‘Alternative facts are nothing new’

Bishop of Derry Dr Donal McKeown.

Bishop of Derry Dr Donal McKeown.

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Bishop of Derry, Dr. Donal McKeown, has said a lot more truth telling needs to be undertaken in our society.

The Bishop was speaking as he delivered his Easter Sunday address at St. Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry.

Making referenced the sequence of harrowing world events unfolding over recent days, Bishop McKeown talked about the challenge for Christians to be inspired by the story of Christ’s resurrection to ensure the triumph of hope over despair.

He said: “If you looked at the news headlines over the last few days – Bomb kills dozens of Syrian evacuees, North Korea ready for nuclear attack – you might be forgiven for thinking that Jesus had wasted his time on Good Friday and that Resurrection is at best wishful thinking and at worst culpable self-delusion. It might seem a safer bet to distract yourself from Cross and Resurrection by focusing on football or fantasy films. They mightn’t change the world – but they might numb the sense of helplessness when faced with the apparent madness that marks our society and the struggles between the sometimes bizarre figures that believe they rule the earth. But it is precisely into the midst of despair and shattered dreams that the Resurrection stories speak.”

The Bishop said the question about what truth is and the idea of ‘alternative facts’ were not new. “That began with the half truths of Adam and Eve, blaming each other or the snake and continues in every generation,” he said. “In our own time, we often think that we will be safer if we bury the truth. Everyone does it, from ourselves to governments. Cover the truth with the cold rock of silence and people might forget about the ugly truth that scars the face of society. We have buried many people and many facts – and often hope that time will erase their memory. But Resurrection tells me that you cannot kill the truth and bury it. The truth will be free and it alone will set us free.

“There is a lot of truth-telling to be undergone by our society – and a lot of alternative facts that need to be debunked. The gilded narratives of 100% saintly church or 100% self-sacrificing heroes need to be debunked if we are to cease being prisoners of the past. Only in this way can many people experience the possibility of resurrection. Individual and communal resurrection will not come about merely by changing political leaders or borders. There will be no resurrection for Ireland if we do not get beyond the self-serving narratives and abandon alternative facts. Only by the truth can we be freed.”