Peace and Justice (Сorrymela)

1) Outline the background of Corrymeela’s work.

The problems in Ireland began with Catholics wanting to regain their control of Ireland whilst Protestants wished to remain under British rule. The sectarian strife divided the religious denominations in Ireland (Catholics and Protestants). This led to The Troubles (1964-1994) – where many people were killed in the fighting between the two religious sects.

2) What has the community achieved over the years?

Corrymeela, started in 1965, acts as a place of refuge where people can take their families and children away from the strife and violence. It is also a meeting place where people of various faiths, beliefs, cultures and backgrounds are brought together. They work with people to help cease the fighting and conflicts to reunite the people of Ireland, regardless of their faiths.

3) Why was the Ballycastle centre situated in such a remote spot?

Ballycastle was primarily selected for practicality; it was of a suitable size and was for sale. It is also, however, remote from the trouble and violence that takes place in Ireland, so was a good location for a refuge centre.

4) Where did the volunteers come from?

El Salvador, France, Africa, Canada and Ireland

5) Describe some of the symbolism of the Croi.

The Croi is used as a place of informal worship in the Corrymeela community, instead of hosting such sessions in a church. To enter the Croi, whose front window held the words of the prayer of St Francis, so that “peace” was situated on the handle; to enter or leave you had to touch peace. The main room was a circle, reflecting that no one is more important than anyone else and that their worship is all inclusive. On the central table stood a Celtic cross, an open Bible and a Candle whose holder came from Desdon. In the entrance room stood a cross from El Salvador and a horse from Sweden; showing the variety of cultures that visit the community.

6) Explain whether the Croi is meant to be inclusive or exclusive.

Inclusive; the circular room, gifts from various cultures and worship led by the laity (any member of the congregation)

7) Describe briefly John McCourt’s tour of Derry.

John led us round Londonderry and described to us the history of Northern Ireland, about the division of the Catholics and Protestants, specifically that of the local history of Derry; the apprentice boys and their march/the activities on Bloody Sunday.

8) Why was the final part of his talk so powerful?

He pointed out, whilst we looked down on the Bogside, the places where three of his friends had been killed in The Troubles and allowed us to look at the murals drawn on the walls of the buildings to commemorate these times. He then led us down to where the blockade had originally stood and been stormed by British soldiers, to break into the area that the Catholic’s had sectioned off, on Bloody Sunday (the day of an Apprentice Boys march). He then took us to a square where he watched his friend get shot; showing us the bullet holes in the wall and describing, in detail, his personal experience of the events.

9) What did David Quinney-Mee outline as significant factors in El Salvador?

Its an extremely poor, corrupt country with 14 very rich families. The military have a threatening a powerful influence, gun crime is rampant and people often disappear. Oscar Romero considered a hero. Liberation theology.

10) Describe briefly the situation in El Salvador today.

There are two prevailing gangs: MS13 and 18th Street. MS13 originated in Los Angeles and is possibly the largest gang in the world. It started because the Civil War had shown the El

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Salvadorians real violence and horror; witnessing such things as friends being shot dead with machine guns, and those who emigrated to America saw that the most violence there was the occasional stabbing or beating. They then chose to show Americans what real violence was by creating MS13. When the Civil War ended in 1992 they moved back to El Salvador and brought their gang culture with them. The origins of the rivalry with 18th Street isn’t really known, but is believed to have started over something as petty as a fight at a party. They now join the gangs because they have little else as they lose their families to the fights, and so continue to fight for revenge, for something to do and simply because they belong to opposing gangs. There are separate prisons for each gang and they are guarded from the outside, whilst the inside is run by the prisoners like a small town.

11) How are the Churches perceived today in El Salvador?

Archbishop Oscar Romero identified with the poor, and so now the churches are perceived in a more positive light. They aren’t seen as part of the establishment as they once were.

General Considerations

12) Why should Christian’s work for peace? Human need, Gods will

13) Why should Christian’s work for justice?

Gods will: the 10 commandments, the idea that we are stewards of the earth.

Human need: poor quality of life, unfair distribution of wealth, suffering etc.

14) Can peace be achieved without justice?

Perhaps in the short term peace can be achieve, by stopping all fighting. However if this is achieved unjustly it will inevitably lead to a rebellion as people will fight for justice.

15) What does peace mean?

Absence of war. Harmony. Wholeness. Happiness. Tranquillity.

16) What does justice mean?

Fairness. Equality.

17) What well known Christians have worked for peace and justice?

Martin Luther King. Nelson Mandela. Desmond Tutu. Gordon Wilson; 1987 Remembrance Day bomb killed his daughter, so he spoke to the people using his experience.

18) How is John McCourt working for peace and justice as a member of the Corrymeela community?

By speaking out he is spreading a message that highlights the futility of the fighting. By speaking from experience, not hatred, he is able to connect with people who have lost as he has without losing rationality. He acts as a mediator in Northern Ireland.

19) Having visited both Iona and Corrymeela explain the similarities and differences in their work for Peace and Justice.

Iona: more structure (though still open) worship; based on church attendance and singing; bringing together of different cultures/people; more traditional, though still led mainly by the laity; wider, international focus (e.g. poverty, peace & justice worldwide); spiritual.

Corrymeela: more spontaneous; worship led completely by laity; open and inclusive to contributions from all members; peace making; localised focus on conflict and resolution; action; spirituality; less conventional/traditional.

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