8 May 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day. On 8 May 1945, countless numbers of people celebrated as nearly six years of the most costly conflict in history came to an end. The leaders of the four main Christian Churches in Ireland have invoked the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi to renew the Christian commitment to peace.
Church Leaders said, “Peace was won, but at a great cost. The world has changed much in the years since. Peace is still a costly, precious and fragile commodity – a reality that perhaps we in this place know better than many others. Reconciliation takes years of work and an appreciation and understanding of the needs and aspirations of others. Only then is it possible for a shared path to be walked together.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has recently urged those at war across the world to lay down their weapons in the face of Covid-19, the common enemy that is now threatening all of humankind. “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war,” he said.
In response Church Leaders said, “As Church Leaders we are reminded of the words of the prophet Isaiah that ‘in the days to come … they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more’ (Isaiah 2:4). Our hope is that the world will see a new dawn once this pandemic is conquered. That people will realise the futile nature of war and how precious the gift of life truly is.”
In the spirit of peace, Church Leaders cited the prayer associated with Saint Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
The Most Revd Eamon Martin
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Dromore & Primate of All Ireland
The Most Revd John McDowell
Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh & Primate of All Ireland
The Rt Revd Dr William Henry
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland
The Rev Sam McGuffin
President of the Methodist Church in Ireland
The Very Revd Dr Ivan Patterson
President of the Irish Council of Churches