State Papers

British government approved of Pope John Paul II's condemnation of violence

Pope John Paul II in Dublin during his visit to Ireland in September 1979. Picture by Pacemaker
Éamon Phoenix

A SPEECH by Pope John Paul II condemning violence in Northern Ireland, was met with approval by the British government.

Details were contained in a ‘restricted’ despatch from an unnamed British Ambassador to the Holy See to the NI Secretary, Peter Brooke, dated January 2, 1992.

"For years the pursuit of violence has undermined attempts to reach a political solution. Can we merely resign ourselves to this running sore which disfigures Europe? No cause can justify the extent to which human rights, respect for legitimate differences and observance of the law are disregarded in this territory. I urge all the parties concerned to reflect before God on their conduct," the Pope said.

Secretary of State Peter Brooke at Stormont. Picture by Pacemaker

Commenting on the words used, the diplomat noted that the Papal condemnation was "less direct than the language used by the Pope on 26 September 1991". However, viewed in perspective, "the Pope’s message to the men of violence remains clear".

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