28TH NOVEMBER 2004
CATHOLIC PRIMATE REOPENS GARVAGHY ROAD PARISH CHURCH
Archbishop Brady calls on politicians to grasp current opportunities.
EXTRACT OF HOMILY GIVEN BY
MOST REV SEÁN BRADY, ARCHBISHOP OF ARMAGH,
AT MASS FOR THE RE-OPENING OF
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST CHURCH,
GARVAGHY ROAD, PARISH OF DRUMCREE, PORTADOWN,
3.00 pm, SUNDAY 28th NOVEMBER 2004
“In seeking to resolve our problems there is always the temptation to make
the perfect solution the enemy of the good solution. Yet a good solution
can create the opportunity for better solutions to emerge in time. So I
appeal to all involved in the negotiations to grasp the good opportunity
that now presents itself and to give us reasons to hope for new possibilities
and for a new beginning to our shared future by reaching agreement in the
coming days. For, should these hopes be once more dashed, then the only
winners will be the cynics, and the losers, the people who believed that
locally elected representatives could take responsibility for our local
situation.” – Archbishop Brady
Today the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran traditions all recall the
imagery of the swords being hammered into ploughshares and spears into
pruning hooks. The message is a strong one. I believe it is particularly
timely for all of us here in Northern Ireland for it is both hopeful and
Swords and spears are symbols of war. They are instruments of offensive
attack. They mean death and destruction, maiming and laming, wounding and
disabling. We have had far too much of that already. Hopefully it will
all soon be a thing of the distant past.
Ploughshares and pruning forks on the other hand suggest a totally different
scene. The ploughman turns over, not a new leaf, but a new sod. He tills
the ground. The soil is made ready to receive the seed. Fresh growth
springs forth bringing hope and joy. Pruning hooks lop off dead and
overgrown branches. They make way for new shoots to blossom and bear
For years, the people of Northern Ireland have waited patiently for the
kind of peace envisaged by the prophet Isaiah almost three thousand years
ago. They know well that there is a season for everything, a time for
every occupation under Heaven – time for keeping and a time for throwing
away. Many believe that that season is now here. Hopes are high for a
new dawn – for an era of new relationships. I believe that these new
relationships are possible and that they should be characterised by
generosity and understanding, mutual respect and courage, as well as
forgiveness and patience.
In recent years the people of Northern Ireland have made a remarkable
journey. Some are weary of that journey and believe that nothing more
can be done. Others continue to hope that generosity and new approaches
to old problems can bring a brighter future. My appeal to everyone in our
society is to continue to work in favour of hope. To believe that new
relationships and better times are always possible.
In seeking to resolve our problems there is always the temptation to
make the perfect solution the enemy of the good solution. Yet a good
solution can create the opportunity for better solutions to emerge in
time. So I appeal to all involved in the negotiations to grasp the
good opportunity that now presents itself and to give us reasons to
hope for new possibilities and for a new beginning to our shared future
by reaching agreement in the coming days. For, should these hopes be
once more dashed, then the only winners will be the cynics, and the
losers, the people who believed that locally elected representatives
could take responsibility for our local situation.
The prospect of a situation where people’s and nations will no more
lift up sword against nation, and where there will be no more training
for war, is almost overwhelming. But the reports are that this is
exactly what our politicians are hammering out these days.
The rest of us must not just stand around and do nothing – the minimum
is that we accompany the politicians and their officials with our prayers
and best wishes. Peace is at once a value and a duty. We need to hammer
out and transform, in our own lives, those attitudes of bitterness which
are hostile to peace, and which threaten the dignity and respect due
to everyone as a human person. We need to lop off the old hatred and
suspicion and intolerance so that peace can begin to take root as a
value deeply embedded within the heart of every person. In this way
it can spread to families and to the different groups and associations
within our society until the whole of the community is involved.
Followers of Christ are interested primarily in the peace of Christ.
The peace of Christ is, in the first place, reconciliation with the Father.
But peace is also reconciliation with one’s brothers and sisters. In
the prayer that Jesus taught us, the “Our Father”, the forgiveness that
we ask of God is linked to the forgiveness that we give to our brothers
and sisters. That is the authentic foundation of any real and lasting
Yes, the vision of universal peace given to us by Isaiah, can seem
like something of a dream, but I am convinced that this dream can
come true. In a society where the welfare of every human person is
safeguarded and people try to share freely and trustingly with one
another the riches of their minds and their talents, what once seemed
impossible becomes possible and the civilisation of love itself,
can become a reality.
Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)
NOTES TO EDITORS:
* Archbishop Seán Brady is the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and
Primate of All Ireland.
* St. John the Baptist Church, Gravaghy Road, Parish of Drumcree,
Portadown, was closed for several months whilst undergoing general
maintenance and reordering.
*The Mass for the reopening was attended by local parishioners and
began at 3.00 pm on Sunday afternoon.