The leaders of Ireland’s four main denominations and the president of the Irish Council of Churches have issued a joint statement offering their prayerful support to Northern Ireland’s newly elected representatives in the task of rebuilding trust in the political institutions by placing the common good at the centre of their approach.
Acknowledging the challenges involved for everyone, the Church leaders urged that we all remember how far Northern Ireland had come in the last two decades, as it is important that the achievements of the peace process are protected. The Church leaders also recognised the importance for everyone to recommit to the transformative vision that had heralded the peace process and reflect on the values that had shaped it.
They said, “The vision that inspired our peace process was one where communities could live free from the threat of violence, with all the benefits of a peaceful society. Central to this vision was a commitment to the protection of rights for all, in a context of mutual respect, so that no one would be left behind…. It was understood that peace and reconciliation would require a transformation in our political culture, moving from a mentality of ‘us’ and ‘them’ to a truly inclusive society where diversity is celebrated and all can participate in shaping the future.
“…It was a vision for a full participative democracy where elected representatives would share responsibility for governing on behalf of the whole community, with a commitment to the common good and the protection of the most vulnerable.”
Speaking to wider society, the Church leaders concluded by saying, “Our elected representatives need our support if they are to have the courage to put the most challenging issues at the centre of the current negotiations and take responsibility for finding lasting solutions. As Christians, we recognise the importance of those in positions of political leadership through prayer and action.”
The statement is signed by Archbishop Richard Clarke, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, Bishop John McDowell, President of the Irish Council of Churches, Rev. Bill Mullally, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland and the Rt. Rev Dr Frank Sellar, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.