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NI church leaders call for world unity to help tackle pandemic

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Presbyterian Moderator Dr William Henry

Presbyterian Moderator Dr William Henry

Stephen Hamilton/Presseye

Presbyterian Moderator Dr William Henry

Church leaders here have compared the worldwide battle against coronavirus to a war with an unseen enemy on the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe - VE Day.

In a joint statement to mark this historic anniversary, Catholic Primate Eamon Martin; Church of Ireland Primate John McDowell; Presbyterian Moderator Dr William Henry; Methodist President Sam McGuffin, and Dr Ivan Patterson, President of the Irish Council of Churches, called for a united fight against the virus.

The statement said: "In recent weeks, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged warring parties across the world to lay down their weapons in support of the bigger battle against Covid-19: the common enemy that is now threatening all of humankind.

"As Church leaders we are reminded of the words of the prophet Isaiah that 'in the days to come … they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more' (Isaiah 2:4).

"Our hope is that the world will see a new dawn once this pandemic is conquered. That people will realise the futile nature of war and how precious the gift of life truly is.

"With God's help may we together work to create and shape a better and more peaceful world where love and respect is at the centre of all our thinking."

The Church leaders spoke of the fragility of peace and that while Europe celebrated it, the loss of life continued elsewhere.

The statement continued: "Peace was won, but at a great cost. The world has changed much in the years since. Peace is still a costly, precious and fragile commodity - a reality that perhaps we in this place know better than many others.

"Reconciliation takes years of work and an appreciation and understanding of the needs and aspirations of others. Only then is it possible for a shared path to be walked together."

The Church leaders asked people to remember those who lost their lives in countries where VE Day had not marked an end to the war.

They said: "On May 8, 1945, countless numbers of people celebrated as nearly six years of war came to an end. Those years had brought immense pain and suffering with millions of lives destroyed.

"The war in Europe may have come to an end but the conflict still raged on in Japan and the rebuilding process now had to begin. We must not forget that VE Day was not a day of rejoicing for everyone. For those who lost loved ones in the conflict it had more sombre undertones as they mourned the death of their nearest and dearest.

Belfast Telegraph