WASHINGTON (March 16, 1999) -- In a joint statement to commemorate St. Patrick's Day, U.S. Presbyterian and Catholic leaders offered Americans three ways to support peacemakers in Northern Ireland, insisting that "a way forward must be found."
Reverend Clifton Kirkpatrick, the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church USA, and Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, Chairman of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' International Policy Committee, called last year's Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland "the best hope in a generation of resolving thirty years of conflict."
The formation of an Executive for Northern Ireland has been stalled by a dispute over the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons. The original March 10 date for the creation of the Executive, has been postponed until April 2.
"While there is a real impasse as regards the formation of an Executive for Northern Ireland, there is a wider agenda flowing from the Good Friday Agreement which must not be overlooked," the two men said. "It deals with policing, equality, and human rights. It must also be pursued vigorously and energetically."
The two leaders said Americans can support peacemakers in Northern Ireland in several ways:
- "We must make clear that no group that threatens or refuses to disavow violence enjoy our support."
- "We must clearly acknowledge that there are two principal communities and traditions, each deserving of equal dignity and respect, in Northern Ireland."
- "We must continue to contribute to peace in Northern Ireland through the many practical initiatives already undertaken or in prospect."
The Presbyterian Church is the single largest religious denomination in Northern Ireland.
"What is needed is a generous measure of courage, determination, perseverance, and willingness to engage in genuine dialogue for the sake of the common good -- the same qualities that produced the Good Friday Agreement," the two said.
Text of Reverend Kirkpatrick and Archbishop McCarrick's statement.