Church leaders differ over North’s centenary but commit to common future

Centenary ‘opens up opportunities for greater understanding’, says joint statement

The statement was by Catholic Primate Archbishop Eamon Martin, Church of Ireland Primate Archbishop John McDowell, Presbyterian Moderator Rev Dr David Bruce, President of the Methodist Church Rev Dr Thomas McKnight, and President of the Irish Council of Churches Rev Dr Ivan Patterson. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA

The statement was by Catholic Primate Archbishop Eamon Martin, Church of Ireland Primate Archbishop John McDowell, Presbyterian Moderator Rev Dr David Bruce, President of the Methodist Church Rev Dr Thomas McKnight, and President of the Irish Council of Churches Rev Dr Ivan Patterson. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA

 

Ireland’s church leaders have acknowledged their different perspectives on Northern Ireland’s centenary next year but committed themselves “to building a future together in which historic mistrust and division becomes a thing of the past”.

They recognised “that people will approach the centenary from a variety of perspectives – for some this is a cause for celebration, others will look upon the last century with a sense of loss and separation,” they said in a joint New Year statement.

“For us, as Church Leaders, the centenary opens up opportunities for greater understanding of each other, for further healing and reconciliation between our communities.”

It also provided “the opportunity for us to reflect together on the failings of relationships and use of violence across the whole island which have marred our past and which in some ways continue to cast a shadow on the present.”

On the pandemic they said “events of 2020 have served to remind us of our interconnectedness as human beings” and that “political leaders in both jurisdictions have faced huge challenges. We continue to pray for them and encourage them to work together towards the building of political stability in which the whole community can prosper.”

Clergy, ministers, priests and lay people of faith had responded “with compassion and imagination to the challenges of the pandemic, with online services, pastoral support and provision of opportunities for prayer,” they said.

The new context following Brexit “demands a commitment to working together in constructive ways” they said, and that “as Church Leaders, we continue to encourage the building of relationships across and between these islands.”

The statement was by Catholic Primate Archbishop Eamon Martin, Church of Ireland Primate Archbishop John McDowell, Presbyterian Moderator Rev Dr David Bruce, President of the Methodist Church Rev Dr Thomas McKnight, and President of the Irish Council of Churches Rev Dr Ivan Patterson.