March 10, 2009

Irish church leaders call for peace


by David Masters

Church leaders have condemned the murder of two British soldiers in Northern Ireland at the weekend, and have called for peace efforts to be redoubled following the attacks.

The soldiers were shot dead outside the Massereene Barracks in County Antrim as they collected pizzas they were to share, the evening before being deployed in Afghanistan.

Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Real IRA.

Catholic primate, Cardinal Sean Brady; Church of Ireland primate, Archbishop Alan Harper; Methodist president, Rev Alan Ferguson; and Presbyterian moderator, the Rt Rev Dr Donald Patton; came together to issue a joint statement against the attack.

They said: “The brutal murder of two soldiers and injuring of others including civilians at Massereene is a shocking development which is an attack on our whole community.

“It takes us back to events which we thought we had left in the past and is a dangerous attempt to destabilise the peace process which must not be allowed to succeed.”

Rev Alan Harper, Archbishop of Armagh, said the murders were ‘deeply distressing and deplorable’.

In a statement, Archbishop Harper said: “There are forces of evil intent on destabilising our community and returning to days of confrontation such as we knew in the past but have been steadily working to move beyond.

“Efforts must be redoubled to create a respectful and inclusive society that ensures that there is no place in our midst for agents of terror.

“We remember those affected by this incident as we continue to pray for a sustained peace.”

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