Monday, July 31, 2006

Not what you might have expected

Far from marching through catholic housing estates while rioting and calling for all nationalists to be interned, the orangemen and women, and the people who turned out to watch them, enjoyed a peaceful and sunny day out in Maguiresbridge.

But then, the Twelfth of July demonstration in Fermanagh generally is a peaceful and relaxed affair.

The sermon preached to the gathered orangemen, women, and other holidaymakers at "the field" challenged popular stereotypes of the Orange Order, however.

The retired Bishop of Repton, Henry Richmond (a Fermanagh man himself), called for more tolerance and understanding between Roman Catholics and Protestants. He hailed post-Vatican-II changes in Catholic practice, and told the gathering that, although dialogue does not necessarily mean agreeing with those one speaks to, it does require an effort to understand. While differences should be faced, rather than swept under the carpet, there is more that unites Protestants and Catholics than divides them, he said.

Not everyone was as sure as the Bishop that Martin Luther would believe in modern Catholic acceptance of the central doctrine of the Reformation, but they heard an impassioned plea for Protestants and Catholics to work together to increase understanding of where each is coming from.

After the service, food, cups of tea, and some serious rest and relaxation, the bands and lodges were assembled for the long march back through the town.

Probably too quiet a day to make the news...

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