Signs of Hope: Catholic Primate welcomes new proposals for peace
2 August 2001
The fact that the two Governments have agreed and published a set of proposals, which they believe are fair and balanced, is an important and welcome development. While much progress has been made, difficulties remain, but there are real signs of hope that these difficulties can be overcome. This hope comes from the realisation that the Good Friday Agreement can only succeed if all parts are implemented and if all the Pro-Agreement Parties continue to work together. They depend on each other and each party must demonstrate to the others that it is dependable, willing and able to play its part. Only in this way can the trust, which the whole process requires, continue to be built up and strengthened.
A further ground for hope is that all Pro-Agreement Parties recognise and accept the issue of putting arms beyond use as an indispensable part of the Agreement. I welcome the recognition by all the Pro-Agreement Parties that this issue must be resolved and I hope and pray that it will be resolved soon, once and for all. I urge all who have a contribution to make to the resolution of this crucial and difficult issue to make that contribution now.
I welcome the statement that both Governments remain committed to a new beginning in policing and the determination of the British Government to bring about such a new beginning by implementing the Patten Report. This also provides considerable grounds for hope. The putting in place of a new Police Service, representative of, and acceptable to all sections of our sadly-divided community would bring incalculable benefits to the whole of our society.
I renew the appeal of the Church Leaders for prayers that this and the other related issues will be resolved. Prayer at this critical stage remains vitally important, since real peace is a gift of God.
Peace is also the achievement of human effort. The challenge for all is to continue the effort to build peace patiently and painstakingly. That means being prepared to make the sacrifice needed to win this great prize.
The violence and rioting on the streets of Belfast and elsewhere, in recent weeks are a tragic reminder of the risk of failure. Continuing political uncertainty and a political vacuum provide the opportunity for violent factions to pursue their sinister purposes. It is imperative that the uncertainty be ended and the vacuum filled. The risks of failure are too grave to contemplate.
“Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). These words of Christ invite us to mobilise all the spiritual and moral forces of our society in the search for peace at this time.
Archbishop of Armagh
Ms Brenda Drumm (087 233 7797)