Homily of Bishop Kevin on Feast of the Holy Innocents

Holy Innocents: Then and Now

Homily of Bishop Kevin Doran, 28th December 2017

Today we mark the Feast of the Holy Innocents. These are the children who, according to St Matthew, were massacred by order of King Herod, because he was determined to make sure that no child was left alive who might be a future King-in-waiting. This massacre, according to the Gospel, came after the three Wise Men from the East had visited Herod in their search for the King who was to be born. It is interesting that they had travelled so far to find Him, while Herod – though near – saw Him as a threat.

The death of the Holy Innocents was all about political expediency. They had done nothing to deserve it. They are celebrated in the calendar of the Church as martyrs. Even though they didn’t know Christ, they died because, through the circumstances of their birth, they were associated with Him.

This Feast Day has, for many years and for very obvious reasons, been associated here in Ireland with the challenge of protecting unborn children and their mothers. Herod is long gone, but recent developments suggest that political expediency still sees innocent children as disposable for a whole variety of reasons, or indeed for no reason at all.

For forty years, Cura has been there to support women in crisis pregnancy. My hope would be that, as a caring Christian community we could continue to offer practical support and friendship to women for as long as they need it, after their baby is born. I know, for example, that, when a pregnancy has not been planned, women sometimes worry about how they can continue with their education and care for a child at the same time. When support is available, in the family or in the wider community, women feel stronger. They are empowered to choose life not just for the baby, but for their own sake as well. No mother wants to abort her child, but without support, unfortunately, some see only the problem and not the possibility.

It is my intention, in the coming weeks, to initiate a new project in the Diocese of Elphin to offer support to mothers who need it, for whatever reason, both during pregnancy and after the birth of their child. This is not in any sense to replace but to supplement the important work already done by Cura. In order to make this possible, I am asking for the support of all of the people of the Diocese. Some of you will have your own personal experience of crisis pregnancy which would be very valuable both in identifying the needs and in responding to them. Others can offer friendship or professional advice on a pro-bono basis. Funding will obviously be required and I would welcome whatever you can give. Any donations received will be ring-fenced exclusively for the purpose. If you feel that you can help in any way, please contact me as soon as possible.

I propose to call this initiative the Ain Karim Project.

Ain Karim is the place where, according to St Luke’s Gospel (Chapter 1), Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth. It is the joyful meeting place of two “unexpectedly expectant” mothers and their unborn children.