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Through Violence towards Peace

An extract from a submission presented to a Forum for Reconciliation and Peace in May 1995

Submission prepared with the authority of the Standing Committee of General Synod of the Church of Ireland by the Archbishop of Armagh, the Archbishop of Dublin and the Honorary Secretaries

A vision of the future - all are called to be peacemakers
Recognising that the majority of the people of Ireland are Christian in their allegiance and religious practice, the Church of Ireland states unequivocally that the current opportunity for peace demands that we all witness to the nature of Christian hope and healing. We are all called, without exception, to be peacemakers and agents of healing. The involvement of each and every Christian in peacemaking is essential to ensure that the cyclical nature of sectarian violence which has been exploited for political purposes and has dominated this island's history, is broken once and for all.

The Church of Ireland has repeatedly stated that peace is not simply the absence of violence. Peacemaking involves the earning of trust, the sharing of visions of hope and a genuine commitment to action. Peacemaking involves trusting people whose past activities give little basis for such confidence. The God whom we honour is, however, a risk taker. We recognise that we are called to respond with love rather than fear, to promote forgiveness and mercy, and to condemn and counter the hatred, evil and bitterness which feed sectarianism.

Throughout the community there are those who have been deeply affected by terrorism, violence and hatred. The Church can but point them towards a God who experienced the violence of Calvary and who, in his experience of loss, invites us to entrust our pain, loss and suffering to his love. We acknowledge that the finest examples of peacemakers are to be found amongst those who have lost their closest loved ones through violence.

   Peacemaking demands dialogue within and between the churches and within and between political parties who agree to differ. The Church of Ireland acknowledges the gift and responsibility of peacemaking which is given to all Christians by the Christ, the Prince of Peace. For sins of commission and omission we once again acknowledge our weakness, frailty and failure. But with renewed vision, this Church says unequivocally that:

  • we must reason together as brothers and sisters in Christ who are determined to respect one another.
  • "the swords must be turned into ploughshares and the spears into pruning hooks"
  • we must "wage war no more"