Martin McGuinness, a man of faith

Martin McGuinness in the Bogside in 2011 with Father Michael Canny and Reverend David Latimer. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

FAITH was an important part of life for Martin McGuinness, who described himself as a practising Catholic and a "very broad minded Christian".

In an interview last year with Christian radio station Premier he said: "If there is a God out there, there is only one God. I believe that something created this beautiful planet, it's just so extraordinary in the universe that I can come to no other conclusion."

He was born into a a staunch Catholic family from the Bogside of Derry. One of the names given to him during his Christening was Pacelli in honour of Pope Pius XII.

During his time as deputy first minister, Mr McGuinness prayed together with DUP leader and first minister Ian Paisley, and also shared prayer with his friend, Derry Presbyterian minister the Rev David Latimer who in 2011 spoke at the annual Sinn Fein ard fheis.

In January 2015, Mr McGuinness told the BBC that he tried to "be the best Catholic I can be", when asked about Sinn Féin's policy of supporting abortions in certain circumstances.

Mr McGuinness said: "The Catholic Church is made up of people who have different opinions on different issues."

Archbishop Eamon Martin described the former deputy first minister as a "man of prayer" who he said had offered encouragement in his vocation.

Derry priest Fr Michael Canny told The Irish News that the ex-IRA commander continued to practice as a Catholic despite an often turbulent relationship between republicans and the Catholic Church.

Asked whether Mr McGuinness had reflected on the apparent conflicts between his Catholicism and his previous endorsement of violence in any of their conversations, Fr Canny said that was a "discussion I am not entering into" adding: "Martin took it to the grave and I will take it to the grave."

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