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We didn’t do enough for peace in Ireland, says Archbishop of Armagh

29 October 2021

The Archbishop speaks at partition-centenary service in St Patrick’s Cathedral

Alamy

Billy Wilson of City of Armagh High School carries a lantern, symbolising the light of hope, during the service in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh

Billy Wilson of City of Armagh High School carries a lantern, symbolising the light of hope, during the service in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armag...

THE Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd John McDowell, has expressed regret that the Church did not do more to influence the peace process. He was speaking at a service in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, to mark 100 years since the partition of Ireland and the formation of Northern Ireland.

At the service on Thursday of last week, Archbishop McDowell recalled growing up in east Belfast. “Now, as a church leader, I am sorry that as disciples of Jesus Christ, we didn’t do more to become peacemakers, or at least to speak peace into the situation,” he said. “Too often we allowed the attitudes around us to shape our faith, rather than the other way round. That’s certainly what I mean when I say we have too often been captive churches.

“We obsessed about some things: especially borders. One way or another, we’re obsessing about them again, and being distracted from really thinking about what a good society would look like. . . the pandemic and some recent political developments have exposed just how fractured a society we’ve become.”

But he was “hopeful in a new generation”.

The RC Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd Eamon Martin, looked back on events of 1921 “with a deep sense of loss; and also sadness. . . I have to face the difficult truth that perhaps we in the churches could have done more to deepen our understanding of each other and to bring healing and peace to our divided and wounded communities.”

With the other church leaders gathered, he was “hopeful and committed to doing what we can to build a better future for all, a future in which mistrust and division can become things of the past”.

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