Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Archbishop Tutu's Plenary Address

Archbishop Tutu spoke this morning of the peace process in Ireland. He commended Senator George Mitchell's role in the negotiations and in the Good Friday agreement. He spoke of the work of something like a truth and reconciliation commission in Northern Ireland and on the BBC bring together victims and perpetrators. One such case he witnessed was between a policeman and an IRA perpetrator. The latter began by describing his upbringing. If I had been brought up the way you describe, said the injured policeman, I would have done just what you did to me. In witnessing such encounters, he said, we are standing on holy ground.

Archbishop Tutu spoke of staying with protestants in Belfast. Coming from a meeting with an IRA spokesperson, he remarked to his host family what a nice man Gerry Adams or Martin McGuiness was. The child of the host family said: he's not a nice man, he's an evil man.

Why oh why, he went on to say, did the peace process take so long? Think of all the suffering that could have been spared, the lives that could have been saved, if Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams had acknowledged each other earlier. This is what we are called to do: to work with those we do not like. In Pakistan President Musharraf is meeting with former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in discussions about power-sharing. Because in the end good triumphs over evil.

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