DUBLIN (CNS) — A bishop in Northern Ireland accused President Barack Obama of a “hackneyed” analysis of the political situation in the region.
Auxiliary Bishop Donal McKeown of Down and Connor said some parts of the president’s June 17 speech in Belfast, Northern Ireland, echoed “the Protestant/Catholic caricature that has actually receded into the background in Northern Ireland.”
Obama was in Northern Ireland June 17-18 with leaders of the Group of Eight nations for a summit aimed at tackling controversial issues including the civil war in Syria and the global financial crisis.
Before the summit got underway, however, Obama addressed 2,000 young people and community leaders at Waterfront Hall and called for a renewed focus on reconciliation, 15 years after the Good Friday peace agreement.
Looking to the future, the president said, “if towns remain divided — if Catholics have their schools and buildings and Protestants have theirs, if we can’t see ourselves in one another and fear or resentment are allowed to harden — that too encourages division and discourages cooperation.”
Bishop McKeown said the 1998 accord “was clear that the core problem in Northern Ireland was a political one. … It is significant that religion did not appear in the agreement on what is primarily a political problem.”
He said that “it is the Catholic schools in Northern Ireland that are now actually among the most racially and linguistically mixed. And, while so many young people are very open to new friendships and opportunities, it needs to be stated that it is adults outside schools who promote mistrust for their own political and personal agendas.”
“A simplistic denominational vocabulary fails to do justice to where we are,” added Bishop McKeown, who chairs the Northern Ireland Commission for Catholic Education.
“We all welcome the president’s presence,” the bishop said, “but would encourage his speechwriters to support a less hackneyed analysis of our situation and prospects.”
The White House had no immediate response.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103