Derry Bishop Andrew Forster urges hope amid harsh realities of welfare cuts, homelessness, Brexit and Stormont stasis this New Year

Bishop Andrew Forster
Bishop Andrew Forster

The new Bishop of Derry and Raphoe Andrew Forster has urged his flock not to become dispirited amid the harsh realities of welfare cuts, homelessness, Brexit and political stasis in Stormont.

In his first New Year message Bishop Forster urged the Anglican faithful in the North West to have hope and faith despite these challenges.

"The New Year chimes will scarcely have subsided when we find ourselves confronted by harsh reality. Brexit looms in all its complexity. There will be renewed efforts to cut the Gordian knot at Stormont and restore the political institutions.

"Also in Northern Ireland, the less well-off are threatened by impending changes to the welfare system while, in the Republic, various crises – homelessness, a shortage of social housing and rent costs – defy resolution. Globally, the damage we’re doing to our planet is becoming more and more obvious and more and more frightening.

"In the face of such challenges it would be easy – indeed entirely understandable – to become dispirited; but, as Christians, we are people of faith and people of hope. Jesus said, ‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’ (Matthew 11:29)," he declared.