Hostility between Christian faiths ‘source of scandal’ – Archbishop

Catholics and Protestants should ‘combine’ efforts in speaking out on key ethical issues

Catholic Primate Archbishop Eamon Martin emphasised the need for reconciliation between Christian faiths  at the Church of Ireland St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Catholic Primate Archbishop Eamon Martin emphasised the need for reconciliation between Christian faiths at the Church of Ireland St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Catholics and Protestants should “combine” their efforts in speaking out on key ethical issues, Catholic Primate Archbishop Eamon Martin has said.

In a speech emphasising the need for reconciliation between Christian faiths, he said people looking from outside, “particularly on this island, see a history of division and sectarianism, of intolerance, mutual recriminations, and open hostility within the Christian family.” It was “a source of scandal”, he said.

Archbishop Martin was speaking in Armagh on Sunday at the Church of Ireland St Patrick’s Cathedral where he had been invited to speak on “reconciling the Reformation” by Church of Ireland Primate Archbishop Richard Clarke and Cathedral Dean Gregory Dunstan.

He said “the role of religion and faith in Irish society, North and South, has clearly changed dramatically”. This was influenced “by the process of secularisation and evidenced by a steady decline in church attendance and in vocations to ministry. More and more people are now living their lives without any reference to God or to religious belief,” Archbishop Martin said.

He was convinced that “we in the various Christian traditions are called to combine our efforts out of our ‘certain hope’ for the world.

Peace

“We therefore present to public discourse our consistent Christian conviction about the sacredness of all human life and the dignity of the person, about the centrality of the family, about solidarity and the need for a fair distribution of goods in the world, about a society that is marked by peace, justice and care for all, especially the most vulnerable.”

It also meant finding “new ways of presenting our sincerely held perspectives alongside those of other faiths and none in conversations about significant issues and values”. Such engagement was “made all the stronger if we do it together and, where possible, when we have a unified voice on the key ethical issues of our time”.

Referring to the Reformation, he recalled how Pope Francis travelled to the Cathedral of Lund in Sweden on October 31st last year for a joint Catholic-Lutheran prayer service to begin the 500th anniversary year of Luther’s Ninety-five Theses.

Surprising moment

“It was”, the Archbishop said, “an historic, joyful and surprising moment – surprising firstly, to think that the Holy Father had been invited to such a significant Reformation event, and secondly, that he had accepted. In that same spirit, I am deeply grateful for the invitation of Archbishop Richard Clarke and Dean Gregory Dunstan to join you here today.”

Events at Lund last October encouraged “all of us to find ways of ‘reconciling the Reformation’,” he said.

In his own view this could be done through “personal friendship and trust in helping to bridge and reconcile the Reformation”, through “a shared encounter with Christ in the sacred scriptures and in prayer” and by “strengthening our shared Christian witness on the island of Ireland”.

It was “for all Christian believers – in our families and communities, workplaces and recreation – to move from conflict to greater communion, together bringing the joy of the gospel into our troubled world.”