The following is a New Year 2017 reflection by the Bishop of Auckland, Bishop Patrick Dunn.

If I was given a wish for 2017, it would be for that elusive thing called “peace”, which has been conspicuously absent in the past year, both at home and abroad.

In the Middle East and in parts of Eastern Europe, oppression, civil war, religious and cultural intolerance have predominated. There have been the  political uncertainties of Brexit and the results of the USA election, and at home the surprising resignation of our own Prime Minister.

Recent days have seen the UN Security Council passing a resolution condemning Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and our own Government’s principled support of this resolution.

Ronald Reagan once said that peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to resolve conflict by peaceful means.

While recognising Israel’s right to live peacefully in its own country, especially when surrounded by hostile nations, this cannot be at the expense of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

Peace cannot prevail here at home with increasing inequality between rich and poor. I would wish for greater resources from Government to resolve the growing poverty and despair of homeless and struggling families, and to offer hospitality to refugees whose plight is even greater.

There is much that we can all do to bring peace and hope into the lives of those around us.

So often the first greeting that Jesus gave to those he met was “peace be with you”. And Pope St John Paul II once said that “peace of heart is the heart of peace”.

I pray that we may all be encouraged to do our part in the year ahead to be at peace with ourselves and help bring that peace into the lives of our families, friends and colleagues.

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