Prince Charles becomes first royal to visit Catholic church in Ireland

Prince Charles becomes first royal to visit Catholic church in Ireland February 6, 2011

It didn’t get much attention, but this seems a noteworthy piece of news:

History was made on Friday when Prince Charles became the first member of the Royal Family to enter a Catholic Church in Ireland.

The Prince visited St Malachy’s Church in Belfast,  to see a 3.5 million pound restoration project which has just been completed. He was welcomed by The Most Reverend Dr Noel Treanor, Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor, with The Most Reverend Dr Patrick Walsh, Bishop Emeritus of Down and Connor and Rev Dr Norman Hamilton,  Moderator of the Presbyterian Church and Reverend Father Martin Graham.

St Malachy’s is situated in a very nationalist part of Belfast, which would have been a no-go area until recently. Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson said of the Royal visit:   “I think it should send out the indication that respect, understanding and tolerance is growing in Northern Ireland, and that’s a good message.”

Nationalist politician Alasdair McDonnell, the SDLP MP, said: “I think this is all a sign of the changing times. This church is held dear by a large number of people across this city and the fact that Prince Charles has come to visit is a good thing, a positive sign things have moved on in Belfast.”

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