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Bishop William Murphy asks for Christmas prayer for refugees

Bishop William Murphy leads Christmas Mass at St.

Bishop William Murphy leads Christmas Mass at St. Agnes Cathedral on Friday, Dec. 25, 2015 in Rockville Centre. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Bishop William Murphy asked Christmas Day mass goers at a packed St. Agnes Cathedral to pray for the Middle East, for refugees forced to flee their homes and for an end to violence and terrorism.

“No one should have to flee his or her home. Yet the plight of millions of refugees fleeing persecution and violence is proof the darkness still pervades the world,” Murphy told the parishioners, some of whom were standing at the back of the majestic Rockville Centre church after the cathedral’s pews filled up.

“In the Middle East, violence and terrorism must be brought to an end; rejection and hatred put aside. Long-standing divisions can be overcome when those who support the legitimate rights of Palestinians are equally committed to defending the right of Israel to exist in safety and security.”

Murphy also issued a call, during this election cycle, for candidates to speak with “kindness and understanding for the good of all.”

“How blessed we would be if pressure groups looked out not just for their own interests, but for the common good,” he said.

While he didn’t mention any candidates by name, Murphy also said he would be encouraged to hear presidential hopefuls demonstrate an anti-abortion stance and push for “defending human life, especially in the womb, and caring for all, especially the elderly.”

Standing outside the cathedral after the 11 a.m. mass, a jubilant Murphy posed for pictures and shook hands with parishioners, wishing them a merry Christmas as they left to return to their holiday festivities.

“These are trying times,” Murphy admitted after the service, “but there is a reason for hope. ... The Lord will bless us. He is going to bless all of Long Island.”

At a Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, Cardinal Timothy Dolan welcomed two groups of refugees to the Christmas service. One was a Muslim family from the Ivory Coast; the other, two teenage brothers who had escaped the violent drug cartels of El Salvador, cable news station NY1 reported.

“As we celebrate this night, when Jesus was born, away from home, into a family that would soon flee as refugees from an oppressive king into Egypt, I think you would join me in welcoming those two families,” Dolan said.

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