CHURCH LEADERS ENCOURAGE POLITICIANS TO SUSTAIN MOMENTUM GENERATED BY HAASS TALKS

Thanks to the leaders of the Church of Ireland, Roman Catholic, Methodist and Presbyterian churches who have been working to release this statement for some days. I was unaware of their endeavour when I posted my blog yesterday.
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Church leaders are encouraging politicians to sustain the momentum and energy generated by the Haass talks.

In a joint statement from the leaders of the Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Methodist Churches together with the Irish Council of Churches they applaud the ‘strenuous and sincere efforts put in by all involved in seeking to find solutions to some of the most contentious issues we face’.

They also recognise the ‘profoundly challenging’ nature of the issues to be addressed but firmly believe that ‘a peaceful and reconciled society is possible’.

The church leaders say that that while the deadline for the Haass negotiations may have passed, the responsibility to work for the common good remains and they encourage the Executive ‘to keep going with the work that has begun so that an acceptable process may be developed’.

The leaders also make clear that the responsibility does not only lie with political leaders but is shared by every individual. ‘As Christians we emphasise the value of building trust, in a spirit of generosity and forgiveness. We encourage every member of our community, church and parishes to be instruments of reconciliation and peace-building’.

The full statement is as follows:

As Church leaders we encourage politicians to sustain the momentum and energy generated by the talks of the Panel of Parties in the Northern Ireland Executive, chaired and facilitated by Dr Richard Haass and his team. Significant work has been completed in recent months and we acknowledge the strenuous and sincere efforts put in by all involved in seeking to find solutions to some of the most contentious issues we face. This is an important time for our society; the momentum for building peace should not be lost. We are aware of the focus and effort that the forthcoming elections will require of our politicians but encourage all within the Executive to keep going with the work that has begun so that an acceptable process may be developed.

We firmly believe that a peaceful and reconciled society is possible. Responsibility for building peace and the development of mutual respect and tolerance in our society does not lie with our political leaders alone, but is shared by every individual. As Christians we emphasise the value of building trust, in a spirit of generosity and forgiveness. We encourage every member of our community, church and parishes to be instruments of reconciliation and peace-building. The Christian call to reconciliation, inspired by the example and sacrifice of Christ, is one that calls us to reach out to others in a spirit of understanding, seeking to be sensitive to their concerns and recognising our need for one another.

We appreciate that the issues addressed in the Haass process are profoundly challenging. While recognising the significance many in our community attribute to issues of culture and identity, we affirm that for all Christians their primary loyalty is to the Lord Jesus Christ and his Kingdom. We continue to offer support to the many who carry deep and genuine hurts from the past and commit ourselves to continually strive together to address issues arising from the need to build a peaceful and reconciled society. We encourage all to do likewise. The deadline for the Haass negotiations may have passed but the responsibility to work for the common good remains.

Cardinal Seán Brady, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh
Most Rev Richard Clarke, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh
Rt Rev Dr Rob Craig, Presbyterian Moderator
Rev Dr Heather Morris, Methodist President
Rev Fr Godfrey O’Donnell, President of the Irish Council of Churches

Spokespersons for the Church Leaders

The Church leaders have nominated the following as spokespersons:
Methodist President, Rev Dr Heather Morris. Contact through Methodist Press Office, Rev Roy Cooper Tel: 077 1094 5104

Bishop John McAreavey (in the absence of Cardinal Brady who is away). Contact through Diocesan Office Tel: 028 3026 2444

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