The Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Dr. Ken Good, has observed how religious people are no longer the only ones in the ‘faith’ basis with a ‘blind Brexit’ now looming large.
The Derry prelate told the CoI’s annual diocesan synod in An Grianán Hotel on Wednesday that Brexit was ‘unsettling’ local faith leaders and their congregations.
“The UK is scheduled to leave the European Union at 11 p.m. on Friday, March 29 - that’s in 156 days’ time – and yet it’s far from clear what will happen afterwards,” said the Anglican Bishop.
“We don’t know if it will be a hard Brexit or a soft Brexit, perhaps, even, a blind Brexit,” he acknowledged.
Bishop Good said it was a worrying time for the communities of Derry and Donegal who very much overlap the invisible frontier.
Addressing his assembled audience in Burt, he asked: “Will there be a hard border just three miles up the road or will it be a soft border?
“Will Brexit deliver the kind of prosperity its advocates promised or will it prove to be the economic catastrophe its opponents predicted? Five months to go, and nobody really knows.
“It would appear we aren’t the only people in the ‘faith’ business.”
Alongside Brexit the senior clergyman identified homelessness and political paralysis as the three ‘big ticket’ issues about which most individual church members felt ‘powerless’.
He said he feared faith in politics was eroding and divides widening as a result of the ongoing political stasis at Stormont.
“The late Nelson Mandela said, ‘It is so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build.’
“I urge the parties at Stormont to be heroic, to redouble their efforts to have the political institutions restored, and to behave in a manner which restores our faith in the body politic,” he said.
Bishop Good went on to commend the Irish government for its stewardship of the Irish economy over the last several turbulent years, while insisting on an important caveat.
“But a civilised society is judged by the way in which it treats its most vulnerable - the young, the sick, the elderly, the poor and the homeless.
“I urge the government not to forget the least fortunate in our society and specifically - where homelessness is concerned- to meaningfully address the provision of affordable social housing and ensure that there is adequate emergency accommodation available for the homeless,” he told delegates.