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Pope Francis and the Rev Dr Norman Hamilton model dialogue in week of political rancour

The Pope thanked Dr Hamilton for his "thoughtful observations". Picture by Hugh Russell
Leading Article

IN a unique and wholly positive development, Pope Francis has written personally to the Rev Dr Norman Hamilton, a former Presbyterian Moderator, after reading an article he contributed to the Faith Matters section of this newspaper.

Dr Hamilton, who played a prominent role in calming the Holy Cross dispute, has long been committed to building strong civic relationships.

It was in this spirit that he shared his considered and constructive commentary on the Pope's latest encyclical, Fratelli Tutti. Its themes include reconciliation and striving for a better society.

The Pope thanked Dr Hamilton for his "thoughtful observations".

Dr Hamilton said he was humbled that his writings had reached the attention of a "world religious leader".

Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin, who drew the article to Pope Francis's attention, described it as "perhaps unprecedented in the context of Northern Ireland and its history".

The episode models the sort of respectful, sincere dialogue that is all too often lacking from public discourse.

This is especially true of the political sphere, as this week's events have demonstrated.

The Pope clearly recognised that Dr Hamilton's intervention was offered in a spirit of "building up God's Kingdom of fraternity, justice and peace".

As we continue through Holy Week towards Good Friday and Easter Sunday, these are ideas worth reflecting upon and pursuing.

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