Northern Ireland news

Bishop's warning over 1916 centenary commemorations

Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown
Seamus McKinney

A Catholic bishop has issued a warning about how society commemorates next year's anniversaries of the 1916 Rising and the Battle of the Somme.

In a Christmas message, Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown said the way the centenaries are marked would say more about how society sees the future than the facts of historical events.

“The challenge is to learn from the past and not to abuse it, to honour the memory of the people and not to dishonour them for our purposes," he said.

“If we plunder their memory for selfish ends, we demean the best in ourselves. Only the truth will set us free.”

Bishop McKeown said the message of Christmas was that healing in society is possible.

“It says that healing will not come from a God of guts and guns but from a defenceless child. Peace will come, not from the victory of the righteous heroes but from those who love and give. Peace involves the defence of the other and not the success of me."

He added: “Healing our memories means learning to tell a new story about our life thus far so that we can dream of a better future.”

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