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Inter Church Group on Faith and Politics Publications

The interchurch Group on Faith and Politics was inaugurated in 1983 (following a motion agreed at the Greenhills Ecumenical Conference, as an ecumenical cross-border group committed to analysing the relation of churches to politics in Ireland and to promote appropriate change. The initial sponsoring institutes were the Corrymeela Community, the Irish School of Ecumenics and the Glencree Centre for Reconciliation. In a period of violence and division, the evolving group comprised individual Christians, recognizing the value of wrestling together - intellectually, practically and pastorally - with the Gospel call to reconciliation, justice and peace, North and South, Irish and British, and among Churches and Christians in their struggle to build new relationships.

How can we be faithful to the God who calls us to forgive our enemies, but who also opposes all injustice? How should Christians deal with the memory of events like the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and the Easter Rising in 1916? On a pastoral level how should clergy conduct ‘political’ funerals? How should we respond to political events like the Anglo-Irish Agreement (1985) or the Good Friday Agreement (1998) with structures of power-sharing and processes to support political reform and parity of esteem and the things that make for peace? Through its regular publications on such burning theological and practical issues the group sought to do theology in the context of the conflict but also to seek for and sustain relationships of respect, mutual understanding, justice and inclusion.

The web-material here charts the collected thematic publications of the Interchurch Group on Faith and Politics over a quarter of a century, and testifies to the reality of informal interchurch dialogue among Christians of different backgrounds. It represents the fruitfulness of their struggles to reach agreement on issues that matter deeply to people and the possibility of reconciling relationship through committed efforts of people living and working in the situation to do critical public and prophetic theology.

The Irish School of Ecumenics is honoured to make these publications available on its website, not least because of the active membership of individual staff members, North and South, and of ISE graduates, throughout the group’s history (it is currently in abeyance). As well as being of historical and documentary interest, these documents will be a useful source to those who wish to reflect seriously on what they can do to bring understanding, reconciliation and justice to Northern Ireland.

In these pages you will find more than morsels of hope. You will find the ideas from which a democratic future can be constructed.

Kevin Boyle, in his “Foreword” to Breaking Down the Enmity: Faith and Politics in the Northern Ireland Conflict, An Interchurch Group on Faith and Politics, Belfast, 1993 (compilation of the first seven published documents), ISBN 0 952118408. (The late Kevin Boyle was at the Director of Human Rights Centre, Essex Univ.).

See also, Graham Spencer, Protestant Identity and Peace in Northern Ireland, Palgrave Connect, London, 2012, in which the author presents perspectives drawn from interviews with active members of the Faith and Politics Group.

Geraldine Smyth, October 2015

A Time to Heal: Perspectives on Reconciliation - 2002

Breaking Down The Enmity: Enmity and Peace - 9 January 1985

Burying Our Dead: Political Funerals in Northern Ireland - 3 April 1992

Choose Life: Introduction to the 1987 Compilation - 12 November 1997

Collective Superiority as a Cause of Conflict: Boasting and Moral Self Righteousness - 24 April 1999

Comment on the Current Situation: Different Readings of the Belfast Agreement - 9 March 2000

Declaration of Faith and Commitment: Christians Respond to Anglo-Irish Agreement - 24 June 1986

Doing on to Others: Parity of Esteem - 16 May 1997

Early Release of Prisoners: Press Release - 24 August 1995

Foreward to 1993 Compilation: Ideas from which a Democratic Future Can Be Formed - 1 June 1993

Forgive Us Our Tresspasses: Healing Political Wounds in Northern Ireland - 14 June 2006

Forgiveness and the Northern Ireland Conflict: Forgiving and Politics - 25 November 1994

Introduction to 1993 Compilation: Review of Documents Published by Group - 4 March 1993

Letter to Belfast Telegraph: Conditions of Peace - 24 November 1993

Letter to Belfast Telegraph: Moving Towards Peace - 30 April 1998

Liberty to Captives: The Early Release of Prisoners - 8 March 1995

Press Release: 1993 Compilation - Preamble to 1985 Agreement - 12 November 1993

Remembrance and Forgetting: Building a Future in Northern Ireland - 13 May 1998

The Things that Make for Peace: Responding to the Ceasefires - 29 September 1995

Towards an Island that Works: Handling Difference, North and South - 14 November 1987

Towards Peace and Stability: The Anglo-Irish Agreement Three Years On - 8 June 1988

Transitions: The Christian Call to Overcome Distrust - 17 November 2001

Understanding the Signs of the Times: After the Anglo-Irish Agreement - 21 April 1986

Victors or Victims? The 300th Anniversary of the Boyne - 12 July 1990



Last updated 6 November 2015 by Irish School of Ecumenics (Email).