by Terence Sheehy THE IRISH Government has welcomed Cardinal Hume's call for a new political initiative to bring peace to the North of Ireland.
Speaking in his St Patrick's Day sermon in Westminster Cathedral, the Cardinal said that the present conflict went deep into history and was "political and nationalistic as well as religious". While Churchmen could speak out on spiritual and moral matters, it was for governments and politicians to provide a "practical solution" to the distress of Northern Ireland.
The Irish Ambassador, Mr Noel Dorr, attended Cardinal Hume's Mass on Saturday, and his Embassy afterwards announced that the Irish Government welcomed the Cardinal's new personal initiative.
Speaking with much feeling about the urgency of the situation in the Six Provinces, Cardinal Hume said that if communities in Ireland were to be reconciled, it was for politicians to propose "necessary political initiatives and . . . constitutional and structural changes".
"New political and constitutional arrangements could in theory be devised and set up successfully," he added. "What is lacking, however, is concerted will on all sides, to make it happen. There is too much fear all round, too much clinging by some to power and privilege, too deep a sense in others of injustice and alienation. In such an atmosphere can any political initiative, however inspired, have any chance of success?
"Our contribution as Churches — in Britain as well as in Ireland — must be to help to change that atmosphere, to help build up trust and confidence, to help people forget the past and create a new future out of present initiatives of spiritual renewal and Christian forgiveness."
The Cardinal said that "our faith commits us to forgiveness of our enemies and reconciliation with them", stressing this because "humanly speaking, anyone who looks at the problems of Northern Ireland can be forgiven for feeling frustration and neardespair.
"After years of bloodshed the two communities in the North are as far apart as ever before. Peace movements have flourished and faded. Political initiatives, some bold, some modest, have been proposed, partially implemented and then abandoned in bitterness.
"There is the temptation to stop thinking, to give up the search for a just and peaceful solution, and for one side to focus on security measures and for the other to seek by every possible means to overthrow the present constitution. That is the appalling stalemate into which power politics and human reckoning have led us.
"The resolution of many of our problems today," he said, "whether they be social, Continued on page 8