Belfast Telegraph

Overcome your differences for murdered Lyra's sake, retiring Bishop of Derry tells politicians

Bishop Ken Good with wife Mary
Bishop Ken Good with wife Mary
Bishop Ken Good meeting families of Bloody Sunday victims in 2010 with other Protestant church leaders
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

A senior figure in the Church of Ireland has pleaded with politicians to restore the Assembly in the wake of the murder of journalist Lyra McKee.

In his last interview as Bishop of the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe, the Right Reverend Ken Good, who is stepping down today after 17 years in the role, said the political stumbling blocks could be overcome.

"In my 17 years, I have seen a lot of progress in community relations," he added.

"I know there are still issues and there are still pressure points, (but) if you scratch below the surface in a crisis, things can emerge.

"I think peace is more secure, but there are still threats and people who are not happy.

"I have witnessed significant progress in relationships amongst people I know.

"However, we saw with the tragic death of Lyra McKee that there are still people who want to upset all of that, but I don't think they will.

"There was such a backlash against what happened with Lyra.

"It was a dreadful miscalculation in every respect and I think it has given the politicians awareness that they have to do something.

"I could see in the funeral service the rippling applause coming from the back of the church to the front.

"I think the politicians at the front felt a burden and a weight of responsibility that the time had come and something had to happen.

"I am urging them now, in the current round of talks, to make sure something does happen.

"The pressure is on them, our eyes are on them more than ever before, and they need to rise to the challenge."

Bishop Good said the stumbling blocks to the restoration of Stormont, including same-sex marriage legislation and an Irish Language Act, were not insurmountable.

"There have always been issues and there always will be issues," he stressed.

"If it weren't these issues, it would be other issues, but what politics is about is working your way through these issues and having some kind of compromise.

"The churches have their own views on marriage (being) between one man and one woman - the Church of Ireland has that view - but the State can make up its own mind.

"I don't want to tell the politicians what the outcome should be in detail.

"I think they have to work their way through it, but they have our support as they try to do this (through) making compromises."

Bishop Good is to attend an Ascension Day service in the Royal and Prior Comprehensive School in Raphoe today. It will be the second farewell event for him in the diocese this week.

"We had a Songs of Praise event at the Guildhall on Saturday night and my final event will be at Royal and Prior School," he explained.

"Both of these events were chosen deliberately. The Guildhall event I wanted to be cross-community, not just a church event. I chose the school because I wanted it to be where young people are.

"Neither of the two events were held in churches because I wanted them to be where the people are. One was in Derry and one in Donegal.

"People's faith is still very important to them, but I think people have a different view of what commitment is now.

"I think our parents had a very strong commitment and, no matter what else was happening, they would be committed to being in church and worshipping.

"Younger generations don't have that same view, but that's not to say they don't have faith and not to say they aren't committed in other ways.

"We are adjusting in the Church of Ireland, like the other traditional churches, as to how to relate to young people who find traditional patterns almost irrelevant.

"But there are still a lot of people who are genuinely involved and for whom faith is foundational."

Bishop Good, who has become part of the fabric of Derry, said he was sad to be leaving the role behind.

"When I came here, I didn't know the city, the community, the clergy or anybody, but I discovered that people were warm and welcoming," he added.

"I walked up Shipquay Street within my first couple of weeks and was stopped by people who said, 'We are not from your church, but we want to welcome you here'.

"Then I went to the Holy Family Church in Ballymagroarty because Fr Paddy O'Kane had invited me to give a homily on a Sunday morning.

"I couldn't believe the warmth of the people. They applauded before I preached and they applauded after I preached. I stood at the door and they all came and shook hands. They were all so welcoming and generous.

"The people of the city are real and authentic and I have enjoyed that. I have enjoyed the banter, the freshness and the way people relate. I will miss that."

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