29 November 2018, The Tablet

Church leaders from all Ireland meet to discuss Brexit

Church leaders in Ireland called on politicians to “weigh their words carefully” as initial negotiations for the UK to leave the EU drew to a close, writes Sarah Mac Donald.

Representatives of the Catholic, Methodist, Church of Ireland and Presbyterian Churches from the island of Ireland met at the Presbyterian Assembly Buildings in Belfast last week to discuss how to respond to the challenges posed by Brexit.

A joint statement issued after the meeting warned it was important to acknowledge the legitimate aspirations of those who voted to leave the EU and those who voted to remain.

They prayed that inevitable Brexit tensions would not be allowed to undermine the quality of relationships and mutual understanding that enabled them to work together for the common good.

Relationships between the people of Ireland, North and South, and between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, have “improved and deepened immeasurably” over the past 30 years, they said.

This atmosphere of mutual respect had been the positive background against which many significant developments had taken place including ceasefires, political accommodation, increased connectedness and rising prosperity for many.

“Regardless of the outcome of this process, as peoples and communities who share this island, we will remain closely related and will have to both get along together and work together in this changing and somewhat uncertain world that lies ahead,” they pledged.

Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor told the meeting: “Churches share a responsibility with society to recognise and to promote an appreciation of the public good that is the European project.”

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