Cardinal John J. O'Connor, New York Mayor Edward I. Koch and hundreds of other pilgrims gathered in the stark boglands of western Ireland Friday to begin a campaign of prayer for peace in Northern Ireland.
"I hope to do nothing but be a pilgrim. I hope to do nothing but pray," O'Connor, who heads the New York's Roman Catholic archdiocese, said at the airport. He said he would not get involved in political issues.Koch, however, repeated his belief that the British should "ultimately" get out of Northern Ireland and said the government should release a report on police violence in the province.
Koch joined the pilgrims at the airport following a visit to the Netherlands, where he offended some officials by suggesting drug enforcement efforts were lax.
He embraced O'Connor, who kidded him, "You're all over the papers" - a reference to a photograph of Koch pouring a pint of ale in a Dublin pub.
The pilgrims were drawn to this village by the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock, which commemorates the evening in 1879 when 15 townsfolk said they saw a vision of Mary, the mother of Jesus.