Irish President makes historic visit to Baha'i Centre
DUBLIN — The President of the Republic of Ireland, Mary McAleese, has praised the universality of the Baha'i teachings and the contribution its members make to the life of their nation.
"You are marked out as people with values that are worth observing, worth learning from, worth looking at, worth imitating and so never be in any doubt of the value you are every single day in this world," President McAleese told a gathering of some 60 Baha'is during her first ever visit to the national Baha'i Centre in the Irish capital.
"Something you probably do not know, and I am sure it is true of many of you, is that in and through your lives, you are extraordinary ambassadors for your Faith," she said in impromptu remarks.
President McAleese, first elected as Ireland's President in 1997, made her special visit to the Baha'i Centre on 30 April to mark the Festival of Ridvan, the anniversary of Baha'u'llah's declaration in 1863 that He is the most recent in a line of divine Messengers that includes Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, Mohammed, Moses, Zoroaster, and others.
The President also expressed concern about the persecution of Baha'is in other countries. She said it was both sad and remarkable that a Faith with such principles would attract, in any shape or form, violence from others.
"And on this evening I think we just keep in our hearts those who are paying such a dear price for their fidelity to that simple human and divine charism that reaches right into the heart of humanity," said President McAleese.
"How fortunate all Irish people are to live in a State where followers of all religions or none are free to practice," she added, according to The Irish Times, which covered her visit.
During the reception, President McAleese was presented with a specially bound edition of the Baha'i book, The Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, in both English and the Irish language.
Brendan McNamara, the Chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the Republic of Ireland, described the President's visit as "a milestone - a very joyous occasion."
"She was very generous and spoke with everybody present," said Mr. McNamara, "particularly taking time to encourage the youth - in whatever they were doing - to make a contribution to the future of Ireland."