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The Church and the conflict in Northern Ireland : a case for Corrymeela? : an assessment of an ecumenical organisation working toward peace and reconciliation

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posted on 2023-05-27, 01:09 authored by Cichon, Ted
The conflict in Northern Ireland is one of the longest conflicts in post-war Europe. It is often described as a sectarian conflict between Catholics and Protestants. Certainly, there is no other religious division in the English-speaking world such as that which is witnessed in this British province. Although there is a formidable amount of literature on this subject, there is limited discourse on the relationship between the major confessions and the relationship between the Churches and the conflict. In order to gain an understanding of this relationship, and for the purposes of clarity this study attempts to define the terms 'religion' and 'politics'. Moreover, this study examines the relationship between religion and politics and between Church and State in a variety of experiences. Such an inquiry identifies patterns of ecclesiastical and political behaviour. In order to demonstrate this, a historical-comparative method is employed, accompanied with an investigation of the Irish experience from early times to the contemporary period. Thus, in this instance, it is a case study. However, in the latter part of the twentieth-century, we witnessed efforts at attempting greater church unity. The meeting of the Second Vatican Council, held between 1962 and 1965, was a concerted effort by the Roman Catholic Church to achieve this end. Interestingly, this Council was held before the eruption of the current conflict. Thus, this study also examines the ramifications of Vatican II, particularly in the context of Northern Ireland. Also, in 1965, the Corrymeela Community was founded in Belfast as an ecumenical organisation. Its latter objectives focus on peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland, which also means religious and social healing between the Protestant and Catholic communities. Peace movements and organisations seeking social justice are not altogether new phenomena in Northern Ireland. Nevertheless, it is necessary to examine the variants, which exist in a changed Irish society, since the beginning of the conflict. These variants include phenomena such as demographical changes, European Union membership, secularisation, constitutional amendments, paramilitary criminality and denominational intransigence. Thus, some of these variants can be viewed as 'adversities' that confront the Corrymeela Community. This examination also enables this study to assess the viability and potential of the Corrymeela Community, not only as an ecclesiastical actor, but also its position in the political sphere. In other words, this inquiry also considers the Community's efficacy in a political environment, which has experienced several significant popular developments, such as the Peace Process, and the referendums held in the Republic of Ireland and in the province of Ulster in 1998. At the same time however, the above do not necessarily detract from the Corrymeela Community's efforts of achieving peace and reconciliation.

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Copyright 2001 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.A.)--University of Tasmania, 2001. Includes bibliographical references

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