CORI Northern Ireland
In accord with the stated vision and goals of CORI, the mission statement of CORI Northern Ireland is as follows:
Called to a service modelled on the life and mission of Jesus Christ, we offer services and leadership to religious communities living in Northern Ireland who, through their diverse gifts and charisms, strive to further the development of a new society in Northern Ireland – a society built on principles of justice and reconciliation, non-violence, equality, partnership, mutual trust and welcome.
- We pursue this calling side by side with people of other churches who live in the fidelity of discipleship of Jesus Christ.
- We co-operate with Church authorities, other religious denominations and faiths, and secular organisations, in developing and articulating a shared vision for Northern Ireland.
- We collaborate with Congregation leaders and religious in Northern Ireland in providing information and inspiration leading to action for justice in the areas of peace-building and reconciliation, human rights, social issues and education.
- We assist members in developing a spirituality that underpins and supports the living out of a faith that does justice.
PRESENT CONTEXT: Building the Peace, Creating Community
This year the killing of two unarmed, off-duty soldiers receiving pizza delivery and the shooting of a police officer who was responding to a 999 distress call, created a huge swell of fear and helplessness in Northern Ireland. The spoken and unspoken question on all lips and in all minds was: ‘Is this a return of the Troubles? Were the years since the Good Friday Agreement only an interlude, a pause for respite?’
Then something quite remarkable happened. Across the country, in towns and villages, people of all traditions and religious persuasions assembled to protest in dignified and powerful silence. What had been achieved over the past years could not now be lost. The peace process would not be destroyed by the gun. Church leaders called for the wearing of purple ribbons as a token of loss and resolve. Politicians quite literally stood shoulder to shoulder in an expression of unity. Even paramilitary groups became advocates for peace as they declared, ‘It is over’. And a new era was born.
CORI (NI) has been discerning its role amid these new circumstances. The challenge in this new context is to reflect prayerfully on what God is saying to us today and to wrestle with the following questions:
• What are the identities given us by the past?
• How can we help create a new kind of future that is an authentic alternative to what our people have been given by that past?
• How can we bring ourselves and all our people together in a way that supports us in collectively creating, a new kind of shared future?
The United Nations has designated this year as the International Year of Reconciliation. This has added another dimension to our thinking, reminding us that we are not alone.
We are called to come together in dialogue with others working on cross-community initiatives. We are called to find creative ways to:
• tell a narrative of reality, rather than to reflect peoples’ fears, hurts and grievances;
• create space for the nurturing of trust and sharing at grassroots inter-community level;
• support victims of the Troubles on their journey towards healing;
• offer an ecumenical witness of the love of God for all people;
• extend hospitality that welcomes both ‘the other’ and the newcomer in NI.
A shared future’ vision for Northern Ireland
We believe that a shared community is not just some distant state to strive for. Rather, working together to create a community that works for all is in itself community. Community in this sense is about belonging. Belonging:
• First and foremost means to be related to, to be a part of something. It is the experience of being at home – in the broadest sense of those words.
• Belonging also has to do with being an owner; belonging to a community is to act as a creator and co-owner of that community.
• The word Belonging turned back to front becomes longing to be – i.e. longing to be that which we are not yet. This reflects the gospel concept of the beloved community and the beloved disciple.
CORI is willing to be accountable for our part as religious in creating a strong and connected community in Northern Ireland; CORI desire to help heal the woundedness of this land; CORI is committed to a hospitality that welcomes the stranger and to a generosity offered with no expectation of return.
Religious life as Witness to reconciliation and community
Religious life is a life form in the Church; it’s an ecclesial reality, an organic structure with a particular form and shape. Its place is at the very heart of the Church as the People of God – but not at the centre of the hierarchical structure of the Church. It is recognised as a state of life; permanent, stable and public – and embraced in response to the call and invitation of God. It is freely, deliberately, solemnly, publicly and formally entered into by Profession. What is important is the choice to live differently – to live in a way that is itself a witness to reconciliation and community.
So, as religious we ask: How can religious life be truly a witness to our people of the reign of God in our midst? How can our community living point to the possibility of creating a new sense of community belonging where all have a place and where there is room for dissent? This questioning and search is not a cause for dismay but for awareness that we are called to be with others in visioning and living into a new future.