Irish Primate attends Church of Ireland services for first time

History was made this week when Cardinal Seán Brady participated in two major Protestant events for the first time. On Sunday he attended a Church of Ireland General Synod Eucharist service. On Monday, he became the first Catholic primate ever to attend a service of thanksgiving and commemoration at Trinity College, Dublin.

Cardinal Brady told the congregation at the Synod service in St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh: "We live in remarkable times"

"The last millennium saw great divisions in the unity of the Church - the body of Christ. Many now dare to hope, and I am one of them, that this millennium will see the great healing of those wounds.

"The last millennium also saw great divisions and conflict on this island of Ireland and between Ireland and her nearest neighbours. Again, many dare to hope that those conflicts can now be resolved, once and for all."

On Monday, Cardinal Brady preached in Trinity College chapel in Dublin. Trinity has been traditionally a Protestant university. Until the end of the 19th century, Catholics were rarely admitted. It was not until 1970 that the Catholic Church lifted its policy of discouraging Catholics to attend.

Cardinal Brady said the present moment was "a wonderful kairos to play our part in trying to heal, once and for all, the hurts of the past.

"I salute the efforts of those who have already courageously undertaken this task. But we all have our part to play," he said.

The cardinal saluted the courage of the Church of Ireland for their work in addressing the legacy of conflict in a multicultural Ireland.

"The independent review of the whole initiative concluded that the projects on immigration and loyalist communities are at the cutting edge of contemporary diversity and inclusion issues in Ireland today.

"My own limited experience of contact with the loyalists' communities in recent times, would lead me to the same conclusion."

In April, the cardinal met loyalists connected to the paramilitary UDA for face-to-face talks for the first time. Describing the meeting as "highly significant, " he said he was encouraged by an assurance given that there would be "no going back to the past".

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