Does the Church have any relevant role as we journey through a decade of historic commemorations in Ireland? This is the subject of Moving Beyond The Pale.
The years 1912 to 1922 saw historical events on these islands, the memory of which has burrowed deep into our sense of identity and psyche. Whether we are talking about the fault line of civil war politics, the resonances of the Easter Rising or the sacrifices of The Somme the effects are still felt today. They put something in the DNA of our psyches, sense of identity and how we relate to one another in the here and now.
Like it or not we have begun to live through a decade of commemoration, when momentous events of one hundred years ago shaped our sense of self and relationships on these islands are remembered. Is it an opportunity for something good and constructive? It is if we choose it to be. A generation on this island is growing up that has had no experience of violent conflict. This is something to celebrate, but also to be wary of. It leaves a generation open to the romantic myth of violence – myths that are easily reinforced by calling up the ghosts of a decade long past.
Moving Beyond The Pale asks whether commemorating events of 1912 to 1922 presents an opportunity or a risk. Whichever of these it is then what values should guide us as we look back? It asks whether the Church now has anything useful to bring to historical reflection, as well as looking at the pressures and opportunities that reflection presents to the Church.