The Church of Ireland Primate has said he is “deeply disappointed” that full agreement between the five political parties of Northern Ireland on the Haass proposals has not been reached.
However, in a statement issued on Tuesday, Archbishop Richard Clarke of Armagh said he still hopes for “future rapprochement.”
Archbishop Clarke said the Church of Ireland was “truly grateful to
the huge efforts” put in by Dr Richard Haass, Professor Meghan
O’Sullivan and their team.
He continued, “We continue to pray that their careful groundwork will indeed come to valuable fruition in the future.”
Referring to the biblical concept of forbearance, Archbishop Clarke
said it was not the same as patience, although it is clearly associated
“Forbearance essentially means not demanding everything we believe we
could legitimately or even reasonably demand of another person; it is a
‘holding back’ of ourselves in a spirit of generosity.”
The leader of the Church of Ireland said forbearance describes God’s
dealings with humankind and it is what God therefore demands of us in
our dealings with one another.
“A spirit of forbearance within us all is assuredly a prerequisite to
a good and wholesome future in 2014 for Northern Ireland,” he said.
Recalling Dr Haass’ use of a phrase some days ago when he said that
the time had come “to fish or cut bait”, Archbishop Clarke said the
origins of the phrase in the nineteenth century suggested a third option
– “to fish, cut bait, or leave the boat”.
“Further time cutting bait may be necessary for our political leaders
but none must metaphorically leave the boat,” he underlined.
Calling down God’s blessing on all in the coming year, the Anglican
Primate said the people of Northern Ireland “deserve a renewed and
strenuous collaborative effort for an authentic peace from all those
involved in its political processes.”
Separately, in an article in the Irish Times, Bishop Noel Treanor of
Down and Connor, said that in their meeting with Dr Haass, the
representatives of the Catholic Church acknowledged that there had been
“stagnation in the effort to consolidate peace in recent years.”
“It is clear from the modus and scope of the initiative undertaken by
Richard Haass and his team that this call to creative, constructive and
courageous leadership is not limited to politicians,” Bishop Treanor
He also suggested that there had been “disengagement by many in
churches and other important sources of civil leadership from the
practical work of reconciliation” and this may be due in part to o
churches becoming more consumed with their own pressing internal
“We also expressed concern that the two dominant parties in the North
were inclined to underappreciate the importance of involving churches,
and other key sources of social and bonding capital outside of politics,
in initiatives to sustain a reconciled and humanly flourishing
society,” Bishop Treanor commented in his Rite and Reason article.
He recalled the words of that “great Irish artisan of peace and
visionary of a reconciled Europe”, St Columbanus, who wrote over 1,400
years ago “The knowledge that peace is good is of no benefit to us if we
do not practise it.”
Bishop Treanor said that in the Haass initiative, the people of
Northern Ireland “have glimpsed a new possibility that calls us to
reignite that passion for peace, reconciliation and genuine human
flourishing for all, not just our ‘own’ that is at the very heart of our
call as followers of Jesus.”
Referring to Pope Francis’ message for World Day of Peace on New
Year’s Day, Bishop Treanor said the Pontiff speaks of the “good news
that demands from each one a step forward, a perennial exercise of
empathy, of listening to the suffering and hopes of others, even those
further away from me”.
The Pope, he said, remind us that “people’s legitimate ambitions (for
peace), especially in the case of the young, should not be thwarted or
offended, nor should people be robbed of their hope of realising them”.
“The history of the peace process and the transformation in
relationships between Britain and Ireland enabled by president McAleese
and Queen Elizabeth, to be consolidated by the first state visit of
President Higgins to Britain later in the new year, shows us that
extraordinary things can happen when leaders, at every level, allow
themselves to be led by the highest ideals and most creative hopes of
the society they serve,” the Bishop of Down and Connor said.