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Church must preach to Sinn Fein Lord Mayor

I BROADLY support the Presbyterian Church's decision to honour the office of Belfast's Lord Mayor and, therefore, to invite the Sinn Fein Lord Mayor to the opening of the General Assembly.

That said, the church must, however, give a moral lead - distinct, I would suggest, from a political lead - in making clear to Sinn Fein that their current policy of being 'insensitive' to the victims of IRA atrocities is morally wrong.

When the headlines are full of the pain caused by the appointment of a convicted murderer to a senior special adviser post, the church has a duty and a responsibility to speak out: 'You are the salt of the earth, and if the salt loses its saltiness ... '

Some may say that the new Lord Mayor is too insignificant in the Sinn Fein organisation to be preached at. But the community will be watching and a message given will be a message conveyed.

Even a Biblical explanation of the necessity for repentance and reconciliation would be appropriate, but for the church to miss the opportunity, or to ignore its responsibility in holding our politicians and leaders to account, will be an abdication of the church's role. Embarrassment is not what is required, but nor is weakness.

This evening, the spiritual leaders of Presbyterianism in Ireland will be given a unique opportunity to speak for the orphan, the widow and the oppressed - a role given to it by God. Surely this opportunity will not be missed.

ULTONIAN

Portadown, Co Armagh

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