Saturday, 7 February 2009

Challenge to overcome prejudice

Patsy McGarry (2nd left) is pictured at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute Christian Unity service with (from left) the Revd Dr Maurice Elliott, Institute Director; Canon Patrick Comerford, Director of Spiritual Formation at the Institute; and Fr Godfrey O’Donnell of the Romanian Orthodox Church.

This week’s edition of the Church of Ireland Gazette (6 February 2009) carries the following half-page report on page 3:

Patsy McGarry tells Theological Institute students to ‘overcome innate prejudice’

By Garrett Casey

The Irish Times religious affairs correspondent, Patsy McGarry, preaching in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute during Christian Unity Week, emphasised the importance of overcoming prejudice. He said that the Octave of Christian Unity “helps concentrate our minds on overcoming what have been our lethal differences.”

Drawing on the Gospel reading which quoted Nathanael as saying of Jesus: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”, Mr McGarry said that “unchecked [prejudice’s] effects are inevitable as gravity and can be crushing of any belief in th goodness of humanity.” He went on to cite examples, such as the Holocaust, Israel’s recent incursions into Gaza, the Penal Laws in Ireland against Roman Catholics in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Roman Catholic Church’s Ne Temere decree and sectarian murders in Northern Ireland.

He continued: “Each of us has to overcome the innate prejudice we have about where good does not come from. That calls for conscious effort. It is why, particularly here in Ireland – and however frustrating the slow pace of progress may be – a week such as this remains so important.

“We must seek out that situation where we can continue to value our separate identities, while also respecting each other’s and while emphasising particularly all that we have in common – which is so much.”

Concluding, Mr McGarry said: “We must consciously follow Philip’s response to Nathanael’s question as to what good ever came out of Nazareth. We must look for the good in the other and keep on doing so, for it is there, as it was in Nazareth; because it too is perennial and not the preserve of any one race or place.”

The Eucharist was celebrated by Canon Patrick Comerford and attended by a large number of ordinands, both full-time and non-stipendiary. Fr Godfrey O’Donnell, of the Romanian Orthodox Church, was present, as were a number of Roman Catholic nuns from a nearby convent.