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Church leaders condemn murder of soldiers

Church leaders today branded the weekend murder of two soldiers as a dangerous attempt to destabilise the peace process.

The heads of the four main churches in Ireland - Catholic primate Cardinal Sean Brady, Church of Ireland primate Archbishop Alan Harper, Methodist president Rev Alan Ferguson and Presbyterian moderator the Rt Rev Dr Donald Patton - said the terrorists must not be allowed to succeed.

In a joint statement, the churchmen said: "The brutal murder of two soldiers and injuring of others including civilians at Massereene is a shocking development which is an attack on our whole community.

"It takes us back to events which we thought we had left in the past and is a dangerous attempt to destabilise the peace process which must not be allowed to succeed."

The prayers of all their churches were with the bereaved families and those who had been injured, they said.

They were encouraged by the way the whole community had come together to condemn the murders and affirm their belief in a reconciled future.

"We ask everyone to give full support to the police and to work together with our politicians for a stable and peaceful society with respect for all."

As they spoke out the Church of Ireland Bishop of Connor Alan Abernethy and the Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor, Noel Treanor visited injured survivors of the gun attack in Antrim Hospital.

Earlier the Catholic Bishops' Conference condemned the attack and welcomed what they called the spontaneous prayerful expressions of unity across the community which followed the shooting.

Meeting in the Irish Republic for their Spring conference the bishops said: "Our prayers and thoughts are with the families of the two Army personnel who were so brutally murdered. We commend those injured in the attack to the prayers of all.

"This was a direct and heinous attack on the sanctity of human life and on efforts to build an agreed political way forward in Northern Ireland.

"The people of Ireland have overwhelmingly rejected the use of violence as a means of achieving political ends. Those who propose any other way wreck our future and destroy hope.

They appealed to everyone who had information which might help to bring to justice those involved to give it to the police.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph