On Sunday 19 June, the Annual Down and Connor Diocesan Pilgrimage to Parish of Saul and Ballee took place.
In his Homily at the Mass, Bishop Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down and Connor, said “In the aftermath of the wars of the late nineteenth century and the horrific World Wars of the last century, an impulse of God’s grace steeled Christians, citizens of erstwhile enemy nations, to forge, as Pope Francis put it in his acceptance address on receipt of the Charlemagne Prize last month, ‘something completely new’ in human history.”
He continued, “That ‘something completely new’ was the European project, which became the European Communities and in turn the European Union with their new institutions and their institutional architecture that has forged the new pathway of peace, the consolidation of peace, economic development, workers’ rights and the enhancement of standards of safety, security and well-being in our countries over the past six decades and more.”
Later in the Homily, Bishop Treanor said “As our rendez-vous with history approaches in the form of this coming Thursday’s referendum on the future of the UK within the European Union, many among us feel confused and uncertain. The debate of recent months has avalanched us with competing figures and viewpoints, argued with conviction and passion. To our horror we have witnessed the murder and tragic death in recent days of a young mother, Jo Cox MP, a Member of Parliament. Such an act contradicts totally the aspirations of our new Europe.”
Continuing, he said, “The current debate on the place of the United Kingdom in the EU needs to continue and indeed to open new chapters. In terms of the shape the recent debate has taken, the Northern bishops remarked in their recent statement that : ‘we need to be cautious about arguments that would reduce the wide ranging benefits of EU membership to a single calculation of net economic gain or loss’”.
Bishop Treanor concluded his homily saying, “May our Christian heritage of social thought and reflection rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ, mediated through the mission of St Patrick, inspire us as we reflect on the complexity of the issues before us in our contemporary world as we prepare to vote in this forthcoming historic referendum, decisive for our future and for future generations.”