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Welby visits reconciliation projects in Ireland

17 October 2014

PA

Message wall: Archbishop Welby at the peace wall in Cupar Way, in west Belfast 

Message wall: Archbishop Welby at the peace wall in Cupar Way, in west Belfast 

THE Archbishop of Canterbury spent two days earlier this month with Church of Ireland leaders, congregations, and their communities, on both sides of the Border, as part of his worldwide visitation among provinces of the Anglican Communion.

Accompanied by his wife, Caroline, he visited reconciliation projects led by Anglican churches in their communities in Belfast, Armagh, and Dublin.

He was welcomed by the Church of Ireland Primate, Dr Richard Clarke, and other bishops, and visited the historic peace-wall that divides the Protestant Shankill from Roman Catholic Falls, in West Belfast.

Speaking at the wall, Archbishop Welby acknowleged the perseverance needed to keep the momentum going for reconciliation. "It remains constantly in our prayers; prayers for courage and perseverance, for the leaders, courage to do what they know is right, and perseverance to keep on doing it year after year, despite the obstacles," he said.

People striving for peace across the world would be very disappointed, Archbishop Welby said, if the leaders of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and others who were engaged in searching for a solution to the problems of the Province, were to give up; but he believed that they would continue to go forward. Progress, he said, was being watched very carefully by others seeking peace across the world.

Later, he visited the Dock Café, an ecumenical community-building project in the Titanic Quarter that seeks to provide a gathering point for different traditions.

Preaching at Armagh Cathedral, Archbishop Welby warned of the danger of "an incapacity to cope with difference, with diversity, a sense that you win or you lose, but you cannot co-exist. That, again, is something that is made worse by technology, because our differences are brought face to face with us in a way that they never have been before in our history. . .

"And here, in Northern Ireland, that, too, that challenge of the incapacity to live with one another, is something which you have learned, that you go on learning; and, in your resolution of it, have much to teach the world, because in so many provinces of the Anglican Communion which we have visited around the world, over the past 18 months - 32 others, in the places where there is war and struggle - Northern Ireland is seen as a beacon of light and hope, a place which can face deep-set historic division and turn from it."

He went on: "There is no period in the history of the Church in which the life of the Church, and the life of the society in which it is embedded, has been renewed except first with a renewal of prayer and the life of prayerful communities.

Whether you go back to St Benedict and the fall of the Western Roman Empire at the end of the fifth century, or whether you go the 18th century and to the rise of Methodism and those prayerful communities, whether you go to the renewals of faith and Christian life in Northern Ireland in the 19th century, or at other times - at the heart of it is prayer, and prayer together. We are called, first and above all, to be people of prayer, if indeed we call ourselves Christians."

In Dublin, the Archbishop met clergy and city representatives at St Patrick's, the national cathedral for the whole of the Church of Ireland, North and South. There, he was welcomed by the Dean, the Very Revd Victor Stacey, and was shown the cathedral's exhibition "Lives Remembered", which calls attention to the brutality of conflict, and pays tribute to all whose lives have been touched by war and violence.

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