On Sunday 22 January, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Primate of All Ireland and Arachbishop of Armagh, delivered an address at a service in Saint Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The service on the theme, ‘Celebrating our Reconciling Vision of Hope’, marked the centenary of the Irish Council of Churches and 50 years since the landmark Ballymascanlon peace talks.
During his address, the Primate said, “Although I was only eleven years old in September 1973, somewhere lodged in my boyhood memory are news images of Church leaders gathering for an historic meeting – while others marched in protest. I knew instinctively that something special was happening at Ballymascanlon – it was a beacon of hope in dark times.
He continued, “Today, then, let us re-commit to being the peacemakers, the healers, the reconcilers that our Saviour longed for his followers to be, even though we know that our ongoing pilgrimage towards unity will always involve risk – just as it did for the pioneers of the Inter-Church bodies that we are commemorating today.”
Emphasising the role of the Church could play in a truth recovery process, Archbishop Martin said, “Peace, reconciliation and forgiveness on this island can only be progressed if we bring to light the truths about our troubled past that remain hidden and festering, and engage in respectful conversations across our communities about what we mean by a shared future. It may seem ambitious, but might we in the Churches offer to help develop an agreed truth recovery process to address the legacy of pain and mistrust that continues to hang over us? And might our Churches also work together to create spaces for dialogue at parish, congregation and community level so that all voices can be fully heard about the kind of society and values we want for our children and grandchildren.”
To read the address in full, click here.