The Archbishop of Armagh, The Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke spoke at diocesan roadshows in Mullabrack (Markethill) on Tuesday 24th November, Killyman on Wednesday 25th November, and Cookstown on Thursday 26th November. The talks are the final part of a series on prayer and, coincidentally to the recent debate about a proposed short pre-Christmas cinema advert, focus on the significance of the Lord's Prayer.
Archbishop Clarke says that we need to be careful in the use of the Lord's Prayer to avoid becoming careless with it' and using it without due care and attention simply because of our familiarity with it'. He says, We use it in our public liturgies, but for very specific purposes and in very specific places. For example, before we receive Holy Communion, the Lord's Prayer is our corporate and shared action of prayer before "in love and charity with our neighbours" we move humbly forward as individual disciples to receive the sacrament.'
Regarding the debate over the advert, Archbishop Clarke says that while he is not sure if it is an appropriate place for an advertisement of this kind (although he enjoys the cinema) he notes that the cinema proprietors - while suggesting that they will not be drawn into religious or political controversy - are happy to show other advertisements that are certainly "plugging a particular line", socially, politically and culturally.' He continues, There are plenty of other advertisements, in the cinema and on TV, which wilfully demean Christmas and hence the religious sensibilities of believing Christians.'
As a final point, Archbishop Clarke suggests that the controversy has underlined the interesting fact that the Lord's Prayer is a prayer that religious believers of almost any hue, may share in'. He says, It is a Christian prayer in that Christ taught it to us, but there is no reference to the Trinity or to the divinity of our Lord. It is based around the loving fatherhood of God and our relationship with Him and with the world around us. It is genuinely a prayer that those of other religions might pray without disrespect either to Christianity or to their own faith.