The agreement between Northern Ireland's major Catholic and Protestant political parties to end three decades of sectarian violence represents the promise of a stable future and the hope of building a country where differences are respected and peace can flourish, the church leaders said, according to a Catholic Online report.
In a statement released yesterday, Archbishop Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland, president of the Irish bishops' conference and primate of all Ireland, joined with Presbyterian Moderator Rev David Clarke, Church of Ireland Armagh Archbishop Alan Harper and Methodist President Rev Ivan McElhinney to welcome the announcements of the agreement.
"Yesterday's announcements," the four religious leaders said, "represent an important and welcome development in the search for a stable future for Northern Ireland."
They noted that the Irish faith communities "have long encouraged local politicians to work towards a devolved government for Northern Ireland and we trust that this is now to be realised."
"We would encourage all to continue to pray for our whole community and our future together," the Christian leaders said, in the statement released by the Irish Catholic Media Office.
"It is important that everybody continues to build a country where all are valued, difference is respected and peace and harmony can flourish."
At a news conference at Stormont in Belfast, Northern Ireland, 26 March, Rev Paisley and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams sat side by side to confirm that power sharing would begin on 8 May, a historic moment after four decades of what is called "the Troubles" claimed the lives of an estimated 3,700.
While the two long-time adversaries and commanding political figures did not shake hands with each other, their calm joint press conference and their words of conciliation spoke much of how far the peace process had come.
Earlier, Irish President Mary McAleese had quoted Pope Benedict as saying that if Catholic and Protestant political parties in Northern Ireland could form a successful power-sharing government it would be "a very powerful Christian witness" for the Balkans and the Middle East, two other areas where conflicts include a significant religious component, according to the BBC.
Irish church leaders welcome historic accord (Independent Catholic News, 27/3/07)
Historic power-sharing accord brings hope for lasting peace, Ireland church leaders state (Catholic Online, 27/3/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Irish human rights defender Mgr Denis Faul dies (CathNews, 22/6/06)
Ian Paisley compared to St Patrick (CathNews, 7/2/06)
Gerry Adams tells Vatican his side of Ulster peace process (CathNews, 24/6/02)
28 Mar 2007