Cardinal Brady's Firsthand Wisdom for Mideast Talks

Irish Prelate Says Respectful Dialogue Is Key to Peace

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By Mary Shovlain

ROME, NOV. 27, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Sean Brady said that respectful dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian leaders meeting today in Annapolis, Maryland, could lead to something bigger in the Mideast peace process.

Cardinal Brady, archbishop of Armagh, in Northern Ireland, spoke with ZENIT about achieving peace in areas plagued by decades of violence. "The way to peace is through dialogue," he said, noting his own experience. "Sometimes it's difficult to establish that dialogue, but it must not be just any old dialogue, it must be respectful dialogue: people who listen to each other with respect, and in that way, try to build trust.

"Dialogue, building trust, are small steps that eventually lead to bigger steps."

The cardinal affirmed such a dialogue was key for the peace process in his country. He said it was "the way pioneered by Senator George Mitchell, who set the scene for us in Northern Ireland."

Stepping forward

The first result from the Annapolis meeting today was a joint statement read by U.S. President George Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In the statement, the Mideast leaders pledged to resume stalled peace talks aimed at establishing a resolution by the end of next year.

The U.S. bishops declared last Sunday a day of prayer for the success of the meeting, an appeal that Benedict XVI seconded in his address before Sunday's midday Angelus. The Holy Father asked people to "implore the Spirit of God for peace for that region so dear to us and to give wisdom and courage to all the protagonists in this important meeting."

Cardinal Brady said he was "delighted" to hear the Pontiff's request for prayers. "I would urge people everywhere to continue to pray with the Holy Father," he said.

The 68-year-old prelate added: "I mean, one of the first people I met at the consistory was the patriarch of Baghdad, the Chaldean Cardinal Delly, who was telling me about the terrible situation there. I know it from firsthand myself, in the sense that Father Ragheed Ganni was shot there in June and he studied at this college [the Pontifical Irish College].

"So, these situations are tragic; they are terrible, but we mustn't give up. God's plans are plans of peace for everybody. And it's up to us leaders to keep reminding everybody to pray for the peacemakers so they may not lose heart, no matter what the setbacks."

[Kathleen Naab contributed to this article]