Irish Religious Leaders Ask Prayers for Politicians

Future of the North Nearing Critical Stage

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DUBLIN, Ireland, JULY 24, 2001 ( Special prayers for politicians will be said in parishes and churches of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland this Sunday as the political process reaches a critical stage.

The four church leaders have requested their congregations to remember in their prayers all those who have serious decisions to make, as they consider the response of the two governments to the recent discussions on the political future of Northern Ireland.

Catholic Archbishop Sean Brady, primate of Ireland, said: «I encourage all people of good will to reflect on the critical stage we have reached in the peace process, and to pray that God will guide all who have serious political decisions to make at this time. The long-term future and well-being of us all is at stake. The political progress made to date must be consolidated and built upon. The very fragile peace we enjoy at present must be strengthened.»

Dr. Alastair Dunlop, the Presbyterian moderator, said: «I want to urge people to pray that God will guide all who have serious political decisions to made at this time. Outbreaks of intercommunity violence continue to occur. Lives and property continue to be damaged. The prayers of God´s people for the whole community are a power for good.»

Archbishop Robin Eames, Church of Ireland primate, said: «While prayers are usually said each Sunday in Church of Ireland parishes for elected representatives, I feel we have a clear duty to call on our people to pray that God will guide all those who carry such a heavy responsibility at this time. The violence we are seeing on our streets, where there is such a risk to the lives of the innocent, including little children, must be challenged in God´s name.»

The Reverend Harold Good, president of the Methodist Church, said: «In praying for our political representatives, an end to vicious sectarian violence and a lasting peace, let us commit ourselves to being part of the answer to the prayers we pray.»

Early Monday, suspected Protestant extremists threw a pipe bomb at a Catholic-occupied home southwest of Belfast, the latest in a string of such attempts to intimidate Northern Ireland´s minority community. The blast in Derriaghy, a mostly Protestant suburb, injured nobody but blew open the front door and damaged the roof.

Outlawed anti-Catholic groups opposed to Northern Ireland´s 1998 peace accord this year have thrown more than 100 pipe bombs and other explosives at Catholic homes and property. The attacks have caused no deaths or serious injuries.

On Sunday, Northern Ireland´s leading Protestant politician warned that the troubled province´s landmark Good Friday peace accord may not survive its current crisis.

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said the failure of the Irish Republican Army and Protestant paramilitary groups to disarm could jeopardize frantic efforts to save the 1998 peace deal.

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