Northern Ireland

Pope Francis praises Good Friday Agreement citing it example of how ‘significant results can be achieved’

Pope Francis attends his weekly general audience in the Pope Paul VI hall at the Vatican (AP)
Pope Francis praised the Good Friday Agreement in a speech in Rome on Monday (AP)

Pope Francis has praised the Good Friday Agreement in a speech in Rome.

In his annual address to members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, the pontiff spoke about the “path to peace” and cited the agreement as an example of how “significant results can be achieved”.

The meeting, which was held at Benediction Hall in the Vatican City on Monday, saw the Pope tell ambassadors that greater efforts are needed to prevent conflict and war through dialogue, disarmament and respect for human rights.

Speaking to representatives of the 184 countries that have full diplomatic relations with the Vatican, Pope Francis said 2024 could be a “year that we hope to be one of peace, but has instead dawned amid conflicts and divisions”.

He also said there is “a need for greater effort on the part of the international community to defend and implement humanitarian law, which seems to be the only way to ensure the defence of human dignity in situations of warfare”.

In his address, he raised the Good Friday Agreement as an example of how peace can be achieved.

“To be sure, dialogue requires patience, perseverance and an ability to listen, yet when sincere attempts are made to put an end to disagreements, significant results can be achieved,” said Pope Francis.

“One example that comes to mind is the Belfast Agreement, also known as the Good Friday Agreement, signed by the British and Irish governments, whose 25th anniversary was commemorated last year.

“Putting an end to thirty years of violent conflict, it can serve as an example to motivate and encourage authorities to trust in peace processes, whatever the hardships and sacrifices they entail.”

The Good Friday Agreement established a new political system in the north and largely ended conflict and violence.

The 25th anniversary of the signing was marked by a range of events last year, including the Agreement 25 conference at Queen’s University Belfast.

The 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement was marked in April
The 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement was marked in April last year

Last September, church leaders from the island of Ireland also attended a seminar in Rome to mark the 25th anniversary.

The Church Leaders Group, which included leaders from the Church of Ireland, the Methodist and Presbyterian churches in Ireland, the Roman Catholic Church and the Irish Council of Churches, shared their personal reflections on the anniversary during a seminar in the Pontifical Irish College.

They also explored the role that churches and faith-based leaders play in peace-making and reconciliation.

The church leaders also attended an ecumenical service in the Chiesa Evangelical Valdese church in the city’s Piazza Cavour to mark the anniversary milestone.