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Czech Republic: Religious Leaders Concerned About Ireland

Prague, 21 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - The leaders of the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches in the Czech Republic have sent an open letter to the Catholics and Protestants of Northern Ireland. The letter was sent by the Archbishop of Prague and president of the Council of the European Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, and the Synodal head of the protestant Church of the Czech Brethren and president of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in the Czech Republic, Pavel Smetana.

The two church leaders express their pain at the continuing armed conflict among Christians in Ulster and urge them to reconcile and foregive each other so that "they can be worthy of the name Christian."

Cardinal Vlk and Reverend Smetana offer the experience and example of the Czech Catholics and Protestants who are trying to heal the wounds of five centuries of hostility through foregiveness and ecumenical cooperation to achieve unity.

The open letter was sent last week to representatives of the Roman Catholic, Presbyterian and Irish churches.