Koyama Hideyuki (Jesuit priest)

(This is a briefing of a lecture given on June 25, 2003, at a gathering in St. Ignatius Church organized by the Melchizedek group)
Johan Galtung, Norwegian peace scholar, has said that, when the bodily or spiritual realities of self-expression of individuals or groups are suppressed beyond their latent capabilities, then violence appears. Galtung calls violence not only the actual use of arms but also uses the expression "structural violence", in cases where violence has deep social links. He makes a distinction between negative peace, the absence of human violence and positive peace, the absence of structural violence. In order to build a peaceful society, there is a need not only of doing away with arms, but also of removing all structural violence. We should investigate the reasons why IRA paramilitaries when they are brought against the wall run to armed conflicts. But will the removal of political, economic, cultural and religious violence, considered to be structural, put an end to the conflicts? The difficulty of ethnic conflicts, like in the case of Palestinians that have experienced injustices, unrecognized by the Israelis, is deeply linked to subjective elements consisting in one-sided experiences of structural violence that the other side refuses to recognize.
No matter the impression given that, for several years, the process of peace in Northern Ireland has remained stagnant, there have been significant developments: Provisional IRA, the main republican paramilitary organization has maintained ceasefire during the past 9 years and the main political party has agreed to look for a peaceful solution to the problematic situation.

The Northern Ireland Conflict
There is not enough space here to explain in detail the historical background of the conflict in Northern Ireland. Let me state that the root of the armed conflict was the English colonization of Ulster, a region in Northern Ireland, in the 17th century. The colonization took place after the religious reform done by the Calvinists, once the Catholic Church of England was given English nationality and became the Church of England. As a result, the colonizers were Protestants and those who had been living in the region were Catholics who for long years were discriminated against and considered to be second-class citizens.
The beginning of the struggle goes back to 1969, when, due to an unjust election system, discriminatory job assignations and poor housing situations, Catholics that could not bear a social status as second-class citizens were stimulated by the Civil Rights movement of American Rev. Martin Luther King. They began a protest movement demanding the abolition of all discrimination that in Northern Ireland developed into a conflict that includes their national identity as being English or Irish.
The conflict exploded but the reasons for its continuation vary according to groups. The Nationalists fight for political and economic reasons. They want a unified Ireland with an economic position and political dependency, but the Unionists are psychologically afraid that the Republic of Ireland in the South will try to swallow them. Religion plays a big role among the Unionists, especially because for Ian Paisley, the religious leader of the extremist Protestant churches and head of their political party and for his followers, the religious reasons have a heavy weight. They consider the fight a collision between Christians and anti Christians and they defend Protestant religion, opposing strongly the mistaken Roman Catholic doctrine. For the Protestant followers of Ian Paisley Religion is number one cause of the conflict, but for others, particularly Catholics, political and economic elements are the main reason. Nevertheless, although religion might not the number one reason, the responsibility of the Catholic Church should not be denied.

Negative effects of the Catholic Church on the Northern Ireland conflict

(1)Alienation of paramilitaries from the Catholic Church
The central message of the Catholic Church was to criticize violence, instead of trying to remove structural violence. As Colm O’Doherty says, the single most obvious note struck in the vast majority of statements issued by the Catholic hierarchy, concerning the violence in Northern Ireland since 1968 is that of condemnation.
What is said is reactive in character and there is little attention to analysis or reflection.

(2)The distance between the Catholic Church in Ireland and Protestants
If one might say that the alienation from the Catholic Church of those people who were forced to appeal to violent means, because of unbearable anger, is one dimension of the reality, the other one is Irish nationalism, in other words, the alienation of the Catholic Church from Protestants, the fact that priests serving Catholic communities became like military chaplains.
In the 19th century, because of the worsening of industrial business Irish middle class people under the leadership of Daniel O'Connell started to fight for the removal of discrimination of England against Catholics. The Catholic Church supported the non-violent fight led by Daniel O'Connell in Ireland to abolish all Catholic discrimination and the Church became the only system with authority to put into practice all over Ireland the liberation movement. As a result, Catholicism had become linked with the political goals of Irish nationalism. Such a combination of Catholicism and Irish nationalism gave birth to an understanding of an exclusive Ireland and Irish people. David Stevens observes that: 'the particular conjunction of Irishness with Catholicism has made the Irishness of Protestants problematic, or at least second class. Protestants in the North resisted and continue to resist' Thus the intrinsic link between Catholicism and Irish nationalism has been said to have led to an appreciation of 'Ireland' or 'Irishness', exclusive of Protestants.
Consequently Catholicism has become perceived as synonymous with Irish nationalism not only because of historical connections but also because of the role the Roman Catholic Church provides within that community. Duncan Morrow and others argue that the churches are communities of people where values are passed on, friends are made, community is experienced and rites of passage are shared. Identity remains most accurately gauged by denomination. Friendship, marriage, residence and school remain stubbornly associated with religious denominations. Ultimately the churches are integral to the identities of whom belongs to 'us' and who belongs to 'them', the division which continues to dominate much of public life in Northern Ireland*3. The Catholic Church becomes the center of communal identity and community life. The Catholic Church usually arbitrates and raises objections with regard to discrimination practices and complaints against English authority.
It must be admitted, however, that at the heart of such helping and pastoral concerns lies a serious danger, that of becoming, or seen as, a tribal chaplain. The images of two tribes has often been used to depict the troubles in Northern Ireland, the native Irish against the colonizers. In such a situation where speaking from within one identity, to embrace those on the other side. Instead of being religious leaders, the Catholic Church has become a tribal spokesperson in their community. Cecilia Clegg and Joseph Liechty of the Irish School of Ecumenics, who have been involved in the 'Moving Beyond Sectarianism' project, talk about a priest standing helplessly across the street while an IRA man pumped bullets into the head of a RUC man fallen at his feet.

Positive contributions of the Catholic Church to conflict management in Northern Ireland
In order that the Catholic Church could accomplish a positive role in the peace process should promote good relationships and dialogue at two levels, with the paramilitaries and with Protestants.

(1) The Redemptorists of Clonard Monastery in Belfast
The most important and difficult task in the Northern Ireland peace process was to stop the violence of IRA and put them in the democratic process, facilitate dialogue among Gerry Adams and John Hume, persuade the Catholic hierarchy, the Irish and British Government that IRA/Sinn Fein is seeking peace sincerely. It is, by now, well-known that the Redemptorists in Clonard Monastery and Frs. Alex Reid and Gerry Reynolds in particular, had a significant part to play in this process. The key element for their work is 'dialogue and relation-building'. Redemptorists treat the IRA as fellow human beings and built relationships with them. They do not simply condemn their actions and delve below their psyche to find out why they resorted to violence.
To most people in contemporary Ireland and U.K., who have become prosperous enough or just want to get on with their lives, the IRA attitudes appear obstinate, selfish, absurd and daftly self-aggrandising. More trenchant critics will feel that because they have used, or at least supported the use of violence, IRA people have forfeited the right to anything so human as a sense of themselves as persons. That view dehumanizes them and they respond with the ultimate dehumanization killing people. Redemptorists understand that lecturing people is counterproductive. While building bridges with the other side, Redemptorists treat the IRA as fellow human beings so that they do not feel less than their rivals. Redemptorists know that the Northern Ireland conflict is not merely a political problem but it is a deeper human problem.
(2) The Jesuits in Portadown
Portadown is a town in County Armagh. Portadown is a symbol of extremist Protestantism and is widely recognized as the most segregated town in Northern Ireland. The Catholics have suffered as second-class citizens. Since 1980, 3-5 Jesuits have lived in the same housing estate as the working class Catholics (Churchill Park) and devoted themselves to the community development of the Catholics and bridge building with the Protestants.

[Community development and empowerment]
When the Jesuits arrived, the Churchill Park estate was a slum. Houses were empty and it was like a drinking club. Jim Bossy, a local leader of Community Center, said: "We moved there as a newly married couple. Many people abused alcohol. We could hear shots being fired. It was very depressing. My wife was almost close to nervous breakdown". Jesuits lived among them and taught them how to organize themselves and to take responsibility by themselves and to have more self-respect.
Jesuits developed a good relationship with Mrs Norma McConville, a member of the Church of Ireland, an officer of the Housing Executive. Portadown as a whole may be relatively prosperous, but 'Catholic' Portadown is anything but prosperous. The area in which Jesuits live in Portadown is quite deprived: about 73% of the people are unemployed. Because of this Jesuits worked alongside local lay people in helping to develop a Cooperative. The Cooperative built a community center in 1993. This was helped by a large grant from the Irish Jesuit Solidarity Fund, which had been set up from the sale of Jesuit land. In the center, on most nights of the week, between 70 and 150 young people are looked after by a team of volunteers. So many need special attention, either with reading, or with confidence building, or training for future employment.
Thus even though there is a small portion of the people who still have a strong victim complex, the majority of the nationalist community have grown in self-confidence and self-esteem through the work of community development. They are now ready to engage in contact with the Protestant people.
Developments within the Protestant community are, however, not as positive as on the Catholic side. There is a small portion of poor Protestant community. Moreover, even though a majority of the Protestants have not suffered from social deprivation and economic inequality as the Catholics, they have been in a insecure psychological state. They have lost power and status to a far greater extent than many Catholics realize. As a result, they are afraid of their whole identity being completely destroyed. The Catholics are a minority in Northern Ireland, but in the whole of Ireland the Protestants are a minority.
Developments within the Protestant community are, however, not as positive as on the Catholic side. There is a small portion of poor Protestant community. Moreover, even though a majority of the Protestants have not suffered from social deprivation and economic inequality as the Catholics, they have been in a insecure psychological state. They have lost power and status to a far greater extent than many Catholics realize. As a result, they are afraid of their whole identity being completely destroyed. The Catholics are a minority in Northern Ireland, but in the whole of Ireland the Protestants are a minority.

Community development work is to be affirmed as part of a developmental process leading to contact. But building bridges has been always difficult in Portadown. Because of lack of contact there are huge amounts of prejudice and misunderstanding. From an early point the British government was to point out that the problem of intercommunal relationships was a part of the problem that lay beyond the scope of the government or legislation. The 1972 discussion paper of William Whitelaw, secretary of state for Northern Ireland, declared that, both political theory and practical expression show that no scheme of government, however carefully drawn, can do more than present an opportunity for progress. It is in the hearts and minds of the people of Northern Ireland, and not just in the aims of Government or the words of Acts of Parliament, that the capacity for working and living together must flourish.
The relationship-building process is precisely the way in which not just the politicians but the people in two divided communities can cooperate. Many things have been attempted. The main ecumenical link has been the interdenominational Clergy Fraternal, a bi-monthly meeting of clergy. Joint visits to the homes of the victims of violence have taken place. A race was organized in the town by a Protestant community and by a Jesuit. The Passion drama was performed. It was cross-denominational, run by male and female, young and old. The history conference was organized. It was a healing of memories exercises. A Jesuit brother has built up relationships with Protestant families. In 1995 a rector of Parish Church (Church of Ireland) was optimistic about the situation of Portadown. Portadown was becoming a model of what people can do at grassroots level. He says: 'if anything will give the politicians courage to create an imaginative settlement of our problems, it must be what they see happening on the ground in local communities. I hope that they will take a look at Portadown'.

[Orange Parades in Portadown]
The issue on which the Jesuits had to spend most of their energy, especially between 1995-1997, was the Orange Parade in Portadown.
The aims of the Orange Order are to promote Protestant ideals and to oppose the ascendancy of Roman Catholicism, which they believe to be in fatal error. The specific question at issue concerns the right of the Orange Order to walk through the predominantly nationalist areas in Portadown.For the nationalists it is basically a matter of equal citizenship. For the loyalists it is mainly a cultural issue: they fear that their cultural tradition may be taken away.
The Jesuits taking sides with the nationalists intensified the conflict. The church needs to keep a neutral position to contribute to the peace process. The church should not be too much involved in a zero sum game.

(3) Ecumenical community and integrated education
In Northern Ireland there are ecumenical communities such as Cornerstone Community, Corrymeela Community where Protestants and Catholics live together. An integrated school, where Protestant and Catholic students study together, started in 1981. In 1998 there were 43 schools and each year it increases in number.
In Northern Ireland people see things differently, depending on which community they come from. For most of the middle class unionists, the problem of the Northern Ireland conflict is the existence of the IRA. They cannot see sufferings which most of the nationalists have gone through. The RUC*9 is the best police force in Europe for most of the unionists, while it is the disgraced police force for Sinn Fein supporters. I introduce the idea of Galtung that the structural violence needs to be got rid of in order to establish positive peace. That idea may be applied in the situations such as Apartheid in South Africa or the rich and the poor in South America where the existence of structural violence is apparent. Ethnic conflicts like in Northern Ireland will not be solved just by liberating poor Catholics from an unjust structure. There are subjective elements involved concerning what are the structural violence (political, economical and cultural).
As Bloomfield says, the roots of the conflict often lie in the subjective relationships between the disputants. Transformation of the conflict is possible only through transformation of the disputant's perceptions of the conflict, and of each other. Feelings and perceptions must be shared and acknowledged, and mutual trust and understanding developed*10. In this context the value of Protestants and Catholics living together is immense. Ecumenical communities and integrated schools have fostered empathy, and a strong yearning for unity ?religious and political. Empathy has enabled them to see things from the other's point of view.

(4) Reconciliation and forgiveness
Reconciliation means the ending of estrangement, the restoration of shalom, of communication and communion, of koinonia between individuals or groups who are no longer talking to each other, who have broken off relations and are at odds with each other.
There must be a place of forgiveness in the whole process of reconciliation as a church ministry. The most talked about case is Gordon Wilson whose twenty-year-old daughter Marie was killed by the IRA in the Enniskillen bomb on November 8th 1987. On the evening when his daughter died in hospital Gordon Wilson gave an interview for the BBC. He described in a tone of quiet anguish his last conversation with Marie as they lay beneath the rubble.
She held my hand tightly, and gripped me as hard as she could. She said, 'Daddy, I love you very much'. Those were her exact words to me, and those were the last words I ever heard say'. Then he went on to say: ' I bear no ill will. I bear no grudge. Dirty sort of talk is not going to bring her back to life .Don't ask me, please, for a purpose. I don't have a purpose. I don't have an answer. But I know there has to be a plan. If I didn't think that, I would commit suicide. It's part of a greater plan, and God is good. And we shall meet again'.
Loyalist paramilitaries admitted later that they were planning retaliation within hours of the Enniskillen bombing but were halted by the broadcast.
Another story is a story of Michael McGoldrick. He is Father of Michael McGoldrick (Junior), who, freshly graduated from Queen's University, who had been working, while studying, as a part-time taxi driver to support his child and his wife, then pregnant with their second child. He was shot dead in a random killing by Loyalist paramilitaries on July 8th 1996, as the conflict caused by the Orange Parade intensified. He talks about his experience. 'Nothing is worse than seeing your own child going into his ground. I said to the TV reporters that I forgave whoever had taken Michael's life, and I still forgive them'.
We cannot force this kind of forgiveness to the people, but because of this spirit of reconciliation the Northern Ireland peace process has made progress.

The Northern Ireland conflict and the Church
The most essential move to take to solve ethnic conflicts is to analyze the possibilities of political, economic and cultural structural violence and to show empathy with the cries of those suffering. Certainly, structural violence has been removed, but, as a result, since only one side has been supported and the struggle against the other group still remains, there is an important task left, that is to see things from the point of view of the other side.
If that could be done, the Christian churches divided in different communities, no matter how strong their sectarianism might become, could stimulate a coexistence with others by spreading a culture of peace that is built on a spirit of forgiveness, generous understanding and respect towards other people, including their paramilitary members and those of other ethnic groups.
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