ECUMENICAL SERVICE OF THANKSGIVING
FOR THE PROGRESS OF PEACE TALKS IN IRELAND
ST PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL
MOST REVEREND SEAN BRADY, ARCHBISHOP OF ARMAGH
I am very happy to send my warmest greetings to everybody gathered in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne, today for this ecumenical service of thanksgiving to God for the progress made in Northern Ireland towards a permanent and lasting peace.
It is particularly appropriate that today’s ceremony should be held in a cathedral dedicated to the patron saint of Ireland, St Patrick. Here in Armagh, the historic See of St Patrick, our two cathedrals, Catholic and Anglican, are also dedicated to our revered patron. He is part of our shared Christian heritage.
The Good Friday Agreement was unique in the range of parties and governments which participated in the negotiations and ultimately agreed the terms of the final document. Agreement was reached after an enormous commitment of time and energy, of patience and endurance by all the participants.
Your service today has two themes. The first is to remember the sorrow and pain of so many people. It is right that your thoughts should turn first to those who have suffered. Our prayer must be that God will comfort the bereaved and the maimed in their loneliness and distress. The Good Friday Agreement points the way forward from the conflict which has left many people heartbroken in both the nationalist and unionist communities, so many lives wrecked and so many families, Protestant and Catholic, devastated.
The second theme of today’s service is hope, the hope which the future offers to all who seek an end to violence and a way forward to building relationships based on freedom and justice. We give thanks to God that we have come this far while recognising that there is still a long way to go. The electorates in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland have handsomely endorsed the Good Friday Agreement in referenda. There is a perceptible lessening of fear and a deepening of trust between the two traditions, so essential to lasting peace.
I am very conscious that, throughout the whole process leading to the Good Friday Agreement, prayers were offered by many people in Ireland and across the world for the success of the talks. It is a source of immense encouragement that so many people continue to pray for us.
It is, therefore, with sentiments of the deepest gratitude that I send this message to you today. I pray that God grants abundant blessings to you and to each of your families.