I am very pleased that today, to mark the anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, Pope Francis has included a prayer for lasting peace and harmony in Ireland during today’s Regina Coeli Queen of Heaven prayer at Saint Peter’s Bascilica, Rome. The Holy Father has shown great interest in our peace process and is always anxious to be kept up-to-date with developments here. I am confident that his prayerful thoughts today will be welcomed by all people of goodwill.
I remember when he visited Dublin in 2018 Pope Francis encouraged us to persevere in the work of peace and reconciliation. He acknowledged on that occasion the huge efforts that had been made to reach the Agreement and to find a peaceful settlement to end the conflict here which he said had caused such ‘untold pain’ to everyone.
He has often spoken about the importance of reconciliation in the world and about being willing to break down barriers by crossing the road “to the other side” in the spirit of the Good Samaritan.
Just yesterday in his Easter Sunday Urbi et Orbi message ‘to the city and to the world’ he encouraged everyone to pursue the paths of peace and fraternity, and he drew attention to the awful impact of war and violence in so many troubled parts of the world today. I am always struck by the way that Pope Francis draws out the horrific consequences of conflict, especially on families, children, and communities, and how violence drives displacement of peoples, forced migration, social and economic hardship and humanitarian crises.
As we mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/ Good Friday Agreement today, Pope Francis would want us to redouble our efforts at finding solutions to our ongoing problems and to work earnestly at restoring relationships here in order to bring deeper healing and reconciliation on this island, and between these islands.
May God bless Pope Francis and give him health and strength to continue his mission of peace in the world.
- Archbishop Eamon Martin is Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland