Church of Ireland Bishop speaks on mending broken relationships
[Church of Ireland] The Decade of Commemorations presents a vital opportunity for every part of the Church on this island, not only to remember the past, but to create and shape the future. So said the Church of Ireland Bishop of Meath and Kildare, the Rt Revd Patricia Louise Storey, who was the preacher at the Annual 1916 Commemoration Ceremony on Wednesday, 6 May at the Church of the Most Sacred Heart in Arbour Hill, Dublin.
In her address she commended the “courageous and generous decision” to invite “a female, Northern Protestant to speak at a Catholic, Republican commemoration.
Bishop Storey said that reflecting on our history provided a time for mending our broken and wounded relationships. She said, “… if Ireland is about anything, it is about relationships … yet how often we have specialised in welcoming the tourist and the outsider, and deeply wounded one another”.
She added that it was a time for generosity, saying “… (1916) is not a part of my story. But I want, and I need, to try to understand it. I need to walk in your shoes generously. That means listening when I would rather speak; hearing your story when I would rather tell mine; relating to the commemorations of your community when I would rather remember wrongs done to mine”.
She continued “Could we, together, commit to walking in each other’s shoes for a time?Could we vow to be generous when we commemorate? It would take personal sacrifice, especially when you have endured personal loss, but perhaps this is the time to mend, and the time for generosity”.
Reflecting on the many lives lost in Ireland, in 1916 as well as more recently, the Bishop said commemoration was also a time for shaping the future, saying I believe that this era in our country’s history is a time no longer for death, but for resurrection”.
Bishop Storey concluded her address by quoting President Obama’s words “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek”. She asked: “Are you willing to be the change that Ireland is waiting for?”
” If Ireland is about anything, it is about relationships … yet how often we have specialised in welcoming the tourist and the outsider, and deeply wounded one another”. – Bishop Patricia Storey –
What a wonderful way to open the door wider for ecumenical relationships in Ireland! The door has been unlocked in a very special way by the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland – to admit a female bishop of the Protestant(Anglican) Church of Northern Ireland with an invitation for her to preach in the R.C. Church of The Most Sacred Heart, in Dublin.
This augurs a new era of fraternal relationship between our two Churches in Ireland, long fraught with sectarian violence, stemming from the political separatism of Ireland from Britain in our joint history.
Perhaps the biggest surprise – and cause for real rejoicing for us Anglicans – is that this invitation came from a Church that, officially, disagrees with the Anglican understanding of the place of women in sacramental ministry. This. surely, is a historic ‘First’, which may yet pave the way to a greater understanding between the two communities of Catholic and Protestant religious faith in a country long torn by political and religious strife.
This new initiative echoes statements made recently by both the Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Francis, of the need for further exploration into what we hold together in common – as faith communities centred around the Redemption of the World by O.L.J.C.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand