Pope Calls for End to Northern Ireland Terrorism
MIDDLETON, Northern Ireland (AP) _ The first nun killed in 21 years of sectarian violence was buried Friday following a message from Pope John Paul II condemning ″the grievous injustice and futility of terrorism.″
Political leaders of Ireland and Northern Ireland joined with family and friends who packed a small country church along the Irish border for the requiem Mass for Sister Catherine Dunne, 37. She was killed Tuesday by an Irish Republican Army bomb.
The mourners included representatives of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, which lost three men in the same attack: William Hanson, 37, Joshua Cyril Willis, 35, and David Sterritt, 34.
The IRA has said the killing of the nun was unintentional. Her car had been near the policemen’s car when the bomb exploded.
A prayer was said for social worker Cathy McCann, 25, who was in the car with Sister Catherine and is recovering from injuries suffered in the explosion.
Dean Francis McLarnon, a Roman Catholic diocesan administrator in Armagh, read a message from the Vatican saying that the pope was ″deeply shocked and saddened″ by the deaths.
John Paul ″implores God’s peace on Northern Ireland, and appeals to the men and women who espouse violence to recognize the grievous injustice and futility of terrorism,″ the message said.
Several hundred people crowded into the old stone church filling the aisles and standing along the walls in the gallery, and dozens more stood outside under umbrellas. Among them were Sister Catherine’s parents, John and Peggy, brothers, Sean and Liam and sister Ann.
Girls from St. Joseph’s training school, where Sister Catherine was deputy director, lined the pathway through the church grounds, many weeping.
Following the Mass, Sister Catherine’s coffin was carried through the fields to the convent of her St. Louis religious order a mile away for burial.
In his homily, McLarnon referred to negotiations now under way in Northern Ireland to bring the main political parties together to seek a political settlement.
″Let’s, today, pray that all who are in a position of influence may refrain from strident posturing, and may earnestly seek for accomodation, for agreement, for reconciliation.″
″If this last atrocity can touch minds and hearts it will perhaps become a turning point,″ he said.
Among those at the funeral were Seamus Mallon, deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labor Party, the main Roman Catholic party in Northern Ireland. Also attending was Ken Maginnis, deputy leader of the Official Unionists, the main Protestant party.
″We’ve had many other tragedies of the same sort,″ Maginnis said after the service. ″And for a short while there appeared to be hope. I don’t think we worked hard enough at it - the community, I’m talking about, not exclusively politicians. I think people have to work a great deal harder.″
Sister Catherine is the 35th victim of political and sectarian violence this year in Northern Ireland. On Friday, less than 15 miles from her grave, police were investigating death No. 36, a man shot to death at Newtonhamilton.
The victim was identified as Paddy Flood, 30, of Londonderry. The IRA said he was killed because he was an informer.
Police refused to comment on the claim.
The mainly Catholic IRA is fighting to topple British rule in Northern Ireland and join the Protestant-dominated province with the Republic of Ireland under a leftist administration.