Northern Ireland news

Archbishop of Canterbury visits Belfast peaceline during 'private pilgrimage'

HOSPITALITY: Clonard Rector Fr Noel Kehoe presents the Archbishop with a gift on a visit to Clonard Monastery

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has walked along a west Belfast peaceline during a private pilgrimage to Northern Ireland with Anglican clergy.

Archbishop Justin Welby and his group also joined in morning prayer led by Fr Noel Kehoe at nearby Clonard Monastery where gifts were exchanged.

Recalling the late Redemptorist priests Fr Alec Reid and Fr Gerry Reyolds, Fr Kehoe said "their legacy (teaches us) that in life, in mission, and especially in peace-building, hospitality creates space for God to work".

He told the pilgrims that the current political crisis in the north is "a failure in hospitality... a going out to meet the other to discover, in friendship, a common good. The open space is narrowing, and leadership is found wanting".

Fr Kehoe asked them "to pray for responsible leadership in politics and pray for courageous leadership in the churches".

Clonard presented an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, while the archbishop had brought a copy of an illustration from a ninth century Irish religious book, the Macdurnan Gospel featuring St Matthew.

The original is in the Church of England collection at Lambeth Palace.

Fr Kehoe said it had been a "private visit", with no publicity, by the Anglican Church's most senior cleric.

"It was a really big honour for Clonard to say they wanted it to be part of it.

"We had different stations (on the peace wall visit) where we stopped on this side and the other side at different times and had a prayer for peace, a prayer for forgiveness, a prayer for forgiveness and a prayer for enemies."

On Wednesday the Archbishop, Bishop Tim Thornton and Canon David Porter also met the chief constable George Hamilton and deputy chief constable Stephen Martin at PSNI headquarters in east Belfast.

The pilgrims visited the RUC Garden of Remembrance while they were there.

Lambeth Palace said it could not provide information about private trips.

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