Catholics join prayer service for restoration of NI executive
Catholics have joined Christians of numerous denominations to pray for government to be restored in Northern Ireland.
Thousands packed St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast at the ‘For the Soul of the Nation’ event on 2 September.
Father James O’Reilly from the parish of Antrim joined those praying. He told The Catholic Universe: “I went to pray for the nation, that God would intervene and that abortion should not become legal. It was very much a grassroots movement. It was very powerful.”
If the Northern Ireland Executive is not convened by 21 October, same-sex marriage will be legalised and abortion imposed on Northern Ireland.
Fr. O’Reilly, who is based in the diocese of Down and Connor, said: “As people of faith, we believe that when we pray, God moves. We are praying for a miracle. We pray that Stormont will be up and running on 21 October. We’re praying that these things, same-sex marriage and abortion, won’t become law in Northern Ireland.”
‘For the Soul of the Nation’ was described as a “non-political and interdenominational evening of united prayer.” Organiser David Legge said Christians in Northern Ireland wanted to make a pro-active response.
“There have been petitions, protests and political activities but we felt, as Christians, there was an importance of prayer for God’s intervention,” he said. As well as prayer, the evening consisted of praise and worship music and input from a variety of speakers.
Amendments to the Northern Ireland Bill were passed in July 2019, supported by majorities in the House of Lords and House of Commons, in favour of abortion being imposed on Northern Ireland. This move was widely condemned.
Archbishop Eamon Martin, primate of All Ireland, said: “There is something particularly cynical in taking advantage of the present political crisis to remove the right to life of the most vulnerable of our people-the unborn baby,” he said.
Mr Legge said: “There’s a real feeling among Christians that this is wrong. Many feel the way this has been passed through Parliament has been undemocratic. Our message is to our Stormont government: they must get back together.”
Christian representatives gathered from a variety of streams, such as CARE in Northern Ireland, Christian Medical Fellowship, CVM Ireland and Divine Healing Ministries. Fr. O’Reilly said this contributed to an uplifting atmosphere.
“There was a real sense of unity, coming together across denominations: people who believe abortion is wrong all coming together to seek God’s face. It had one single aim: for God to intervene,” he said.
The campaign against liberalising abortion laws and legalising same-sex marriage continues with two events. A silent protest has been arranged by NI Voiceless on Friday 6 September at 7pm at the gates of Stormont. A ‘March For Their Lives’ event will take place at Custom House Square in Belfast on Saturday 7 September.
Picture: St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast, Wikimedia CommonsTags: Abortion, abortion bill, abortion law, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Belfast, CARE in NI, Catholic Church, Catholic Primate Eamon Martin, Christian, Christians, Church, executive, Ireland, Irish, Irish Catholics, Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland voting, UK, unity