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
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
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
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
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.