Taoiseach attends Senator Fox memorial service as Bishop McDowell speaks of ‘extraordinary heartlessness’
Preaching at a service in Christ Church, Aughnamullen, Co. Monaghan, marking the 40th anniversary of the murder of Senator Billy Fox, the Bishop of Clogher, the Rt Revd John McDowell, said that the riches of Senator Fox’s personality had been “stolen by the extraordinary heartlessness of some men who lived in a wilderness of self-righteousness, and who, in that wilderness, exposed themselves to the greatest temptation of all, the temptation to extinguish a life which God had created, a life which he loved with an everlasting love”.
Five members of the Provisional IRA were convicted of involvement in the murder of the 35-year-old Senator on 11th March 1974 at Tircooney, Co. Monaghan, close to the border, a crime which Bishop McDowell described as “inexplicable”.
MAKING A NEW IRELAND
Concluding his sermon at the recent service in Aughnamullen church, Co. Monaghan, marking the 40th anniversary of the murder of Senator Billy Fox (report, page 1), the Bishop of Clogher invited the congregation to join him in praying God to “take away our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh so that in the spirit of Billy Fox we may make a new Ireland”.
The occasion recalled a shocking event during the Troubles but, in looking back to such atrocities, people must also remember the future that lies ahead and not allow rightful feelings of anger to jeopardize that future. There is a fine balance here, between indignation and restraint. Unfettered indignation can lead to bitterness, resentment and division, while being overly restrained can suggest that horrific crimes are of no real consequence, do not really matter and are quickly forgotten.
Clearly, Senator Fox was a politician of passion, one who had a breadth of vision for society and who truly wanted to serve the people and make life better for them. It is in such a spirit of dedication and determination that all the people of Ireland must, together, look to their common future. No one knows what politics holds for the future or what our circumstances on this island will be 40 years from now, but we do know that whatever the circumstances may be, they will be our own doing. As we sow, so shall we reap. The future belongs to all the people of Ireland and, with Christian faith, we must pray that we will build it wisely and build it well.
Different stories dominate the news North and South of the border, but the people of the two jurisdictions do well to consider who their neighbours are, seeing them in their best light and as the friends they can be. To see the good in others, even those with whom one would not always easily associate the word ‘good’, is an important principle of Christian living. Such an outlook has its own redeeming power.
The former Dean of Killaloe, Dr Stephen White, in his introduction to A Time to Build: Essays for Tomorrow’s Church, a 1999 APCK volume marking the new millennium, suggested that “the Church of Ireland needs to raise its eyes and broaden its perspective if it is at once to address its own failings and exercise a truly prophetic and healing ministry in the twenty-first century”. Indeed, the Church cannot reach outwards to others if it is not prepared to look outwards. Nor can the Church fulfil its own potential to contribute to a new and better Ireland if it does not rise above its own preoccupations.
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