Peace and reconciliation in Ireland depends on tackling troubled past - Archbishop Eamon Martin

Peace, reconciliation and forgiveness on the island of Ireland can only progress if we bring to light the truths about our troubled past that remain hidden and festering, Archbishop Eamon Martin has said.

Respectful conversations across our communities ‘about what we mean by a shared future’ is also vital, the Catholic Primate of All Ireland contended as he suggested the collaborative work of different denominations had a vital role to play.

Archbishop Martin was speaking in Belfast Cathedral at the weekend during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on the theme, ‘Celebrating our Reconciling Vision of Hope’. The service celebrated the centenary of the Irish Council of Churches and 50 years since Ballymascanlon peace talks.

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“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?! he asked, adding: “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.

Dr Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and the Primate of All Ireland. DER3919GS – 008

"Such initiatives are essentially about deep and intentional listening to ‘the other’ who differs from us - and really ‘getting’ where they are coming from. The Churches have no desire to dominate such conversations. We are merely servants, inspired by the words of the prophet Micah in this afternoon’s reading: ‘What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God’ (Micah 6:8).”

Archbishop Martin said reconciliation requires trust. “And trust is perhaps all the more important on this island where people from different traditions have often regarded one another with fear and suspicion. I thank God today for the trust and friendship that has already been built up between us - fellow pilgrims - on the path to unity.

“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.”