Monday, November 14, 2005


Among the many good things in the Community Relations Council (CRC) evaluation of the role of church-based peacemaking initiatives in Ireland (Beyond Sectarianism - The Churches and Ten Years of the Peace Process - *.PDF download) is the contribution [excerpt below] from Geraldine Smyth OP, a lecturer at the Irish School of Ecumenics. I first spotted this in the recently revamped Corrymeela magazine - the journal of the extremely worthwhile Corrymeela Community - which now definitely ranks alongside Fortnight and Shared Space as a 'must read'. See also this article, A Time To Heal (faith and politics), and the Centre for Contemporary Christianity in Ireland.

"Violence cannot deliver peace, and the self-defeating mechanisms of the sacral power of cultural religion which keeps sectarianism in place need to be exposed and repudiated. Churches in Ireland must keep scrutinizing their own life... It is imperative that we all discover how we collude in tolerating violence - through segregated religious and social practice, and through clinging to identity-forming symbol structures which feed ancient rivalries through appeals to distorted memories of biblical chosenness as the basis of exclusion of others... Surely the churches have a vital role in shaping alternative, open spaces where ideas are never beyond question and the fresh air of dialogue can circulate, where experimental moves are envisaged and pilot projects undertaken - whether in secular life, through the arts, civic politics, education or community development - or within and between religious communities."

Incidentally, David Stevens, leader of the Corrymeela Community (and before that long-term general secretary of the Irish Council of Churches) has made a comment about religious hatred legislation, which has a particular history in Northern Ireland.

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