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Bishop Donal McKeown marks anniversary of Omagh bombing

By Ann Marie Foley - 15 August, 2018

Bishop Donal McKeown

No cause is worth killing for, Bishop Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry stated on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing.

“Any story we try to tell about our conflicts has to weep for the past and never glorify any of it,” he said in his homily at the Sacred Heart Church in Omagh on 14 August 2018.

“But Christians weep with the strange belief that even brutality and stupidity cannot separate us from the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus.”

The bishop said that the bomb in 1998, which killed young and old, also scarred so many others in body and in mind. He explained that those scars, memories and losses will never go away.

“Many people continue to limp through life because of the brutal actions of others. For this town, something changed forever that day,” he said.

He added that the community found ways of remembering their loved ones in “a quiet and dignified way”. He urged those present not to underestimate what they have done and that it has a wider purpose. This involves showing in people’s ways of remembering and honouring that in every conflict it is mostly innocent civilians and not combatants who die.

Speaking of the feast of the Assumption he said that it reminds people that death and violence do not have the last word.

“For we do believe in the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sin, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting,” he concluded.

A car bomb exploded in Omagh on 15 August 1998 killing 29 people, including a woman who was pregnant with twins. More than 200 others were injured.

Today (15 August), prayers are being said in the Church of Ireland St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, at services during the day for all the victims and survivors of this and other acts of terror.

Thirty–one candles, one for each of those who died, including unborn twins, are being lit at the day’s first service at 8.10 a.m. The candles are being placed at the base of the cathedral’s Spire of Hope. Members of the public can visit the cathedral for quiet prayer and light their own candle of remembrance during the day.

The Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev Stephen Forde, said: “I remember the day of the bombing well. We had been in Donegal and were planning to stop in Omagh that afternoon and were driving towards the town. It was some time before we understood why so many ambulances and police vehicles were passing us on the road that day and why we were diverted away from the town.”

He recalled that later that week he was involved in cross-community ecumenical services in Dublin held to remember the victims.

“In marking this anniversary, we acknowledge that this was the worst single atrocity of the Troubles, and in our prayers we remember all lives lost during those years,” he said.

The Cathedral closes at 5 p.m. on Wednesday and there will be no Choral Evensong.

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