Belfast Telegraph

Primate: war abject failure of humanity

By Alf McCreary

War must always represent the abject failure of humanity, the Church of Ireland primate has said.

Archbishop of Armagh Dr Richard Clarke last night made a keynote speech to mark the 100th anniversary of the day Britain declared war against Germany in 1914.

Speaking to a packed congregation in St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast, the Primate said: "War must always represent the abject failure of the human spirit and of humanity itself.

"It can never be other and we should never pretend it is other."

He added: "We can create easily monuments of hatred (it takes no effort at all), or we can painstakingly and even painfully build monuments of beauty, even to a horrifying past. We can allow the ruins of what others have made of our hopes and longings to stand there, bare and broken, as a symbol of our hatred.

"We can build monuments to darkness, and it is only too easy to do.

"We can, and it is by far the most painful option, seek to restore beauty and even restore relationships, and allow light to shine in the darkness."

Dr Clarke underlined that this required "courage faith and patience", but noted that it took almost 50 years for the then leaders of France and Germany – President Charles De Gaulle and Konrad Adeneur – to meet in a rebuilt Rheims where the cathedral had been destroyed in the First World War.

The primate also told the congregation, including the Duke of York, that society "cannot separate the violence, the carnage and the suffering of the innocent – whether in Gaza, Israel, Syria, Ukraine or Iraq – from our memorialising the beginnings of the First World War."

The Dublin-born Archbishop Clarke has spent most of his career in the Republic, but earlier he spent some time as a curate in Holywood, Co Down.

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