Churches urge end to “destructive acts”

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Derry’s religious leaders have joined forces to urge an end to “destructive acts rooted in bitterness.”

The joint Easter statement was issued by Dr. Seamus Hegarty, the Catholic Bishop of Derry, Rt. Rev. Ken Good, the city’s Church of Ireland Bishop, Rev. David Latimer, of First Derry Presbyterian Church, Rev. Robert Buick, Moderator of the Derry and Donegal Presbytery, and Rev. Peter Murray, of Carlisle Road Methodist Church.

In their statement, the religious leaders point to hope as “the strong and confident expectation of a new life.”

“Incredibly, there are those who wish to extinguish hope for this community - the hope of peace,” the joint statement says in a reference to ongoing activity by dissident groups.

“In its place the only offer they have for their neighbour is destructive acts that are rooted in bitterness. As church leaders from the ancient city of Derry-Londonderry, we join our voices with the settled will of the people. We refuse to have our hope for this community extinguished.”

The church leaders also refer to the breaking of the “historic cycle where political difference on this island has been addressed by violence.”

“We are in a process of building peace with our neighbour and are in no doubt that a historic cycle is broken. Death will not have the last word,” the statement goes on.

“The successful breaking of a historic cycle, coupled with the commitment of all parts of this community to live in peace, presents great hope for today and for future generations.

“We represent different religious traditions that agree on many matters and, occasionally, not on others. Our ability and commitment to speak as one about our strong and confident hope for the future is symbolic of the new future for our community.”

The joint statement concludes: “Our strong and confident hope for this community is one where life and hope now triumph over the darkness of the past.

“For those diminishing few whose contribution to our humanity is violence, we remind them of its utter futility in the face of the settled will of the community. It is also futile for their own personal lives and future. They answer not only to justice but also to their conscience and ultimately their Maker.”

Earlier this year, politicians from across the political spectrum in the city affirmed their commitment to a “unity of purpose” to develop the city and region to its fullest potential.