Category Archives: Division

Revitalising the Catholic Church in Ireland: VIII – Division in the Church

Sean O’Conaill © Reality 2004

“Where in the Gospels does the Lord say: ‘Thou shalt be right?'”
Fr Richard Rohr O.F.M.

When I was going through Catholic secondary school in Dublin in the 1950s I was never taught that there could be serious disagreement within our Church. The notion that there could be different schools of thought in an infallible institution never surfaced.

The often-repeated phrase ‘the church teaches’ implied that it could speak with only one voice – on everything.

The intention behind this ‘single voice’ theory of the church was to reinforce for us young people the church’s authority. Our teachers thought back then that if the church was believed to have just one voice – on everything – we would then know exactly what to believe. The church was a rock – and all the atoms in a rock move together, like well-trained soldiers. There was a fear that if we all started thinking for ourselves the rock would crumble into dust.

However, the effect of this kind of education was to send my mind to sleep. If all of the most important questions had already been answered by theologians and philosophers long dead – and those answers were now as fixed and final as the multiplication tables – then what could I ever hope to discover for myself? I went to university in the early 1960s expecting, with no great enthusiasm, to have the dull certitudes of secondary school reinforced.

Instead I found people of my own age arguing over virtually everything – and my mind woke up.

And then I learned that in a great council of the Catholic church taking place at that very time in Rome, there was deep disagreement between conservative and liberal church leaders and theologians. I became totally fascinated by those disagreements, and tended to take the liberal side.

I have never since lost that fascination, and never stopped thinking about the great questions the council raised. Had I gone on supposing that Catholicism was all about everyone thinking the same about everything, I would certainly have abandoned it long ago – because asking questions is obviously what our minds are for. And finding the answers – or at least some of them – for oneself – is by far the most exciting thing anyone can ever do.

I became a liberal then because I believed in freedom, especially the freedom to think my own thoughts. My main subject was history – and I loved the story of my own era – the story of the triumph of freedom and democracy. I was appalled that Catholic church leaders could ever have sided with the cause of an unequal society, ruled by aristocrats who inherited wealth and power. The God who freed the Jews from the Egyptians must surely be the same God who was at that very moment, through Martin Luther King, teaching African Americans to sing  Let My People Go and We Shall Overcome.

So I was deeply disappointed when Irish church leaders, led by Archbishop John Charles McQuaid of Dublin, took a negative view of the council and told us that it should not disturb “the tranquillity of our Christian lives”. For me no pope since John XXIII has come close to matching his confidence that the Holy Spirit is busy renewing the church.

Yet now I find myself arguing vigorously with Christian liberals who go too far towards an accommodation with modern secular ideas, belittling the faith of past eras, and especially the faith of the earliest Christians. My questioning, and the deepest experiences of my life, have led me to the conviction that the fundamental statements made in the creeds are essentially true and need to be upheld: Christian identity and freedom depend upon them.

What is it that divides liberals and conservatives in the church?

The best answer I can come up with goes as follows. Conservatives hold to the notion of an unchanging church – a church that has always been the same. Changing anything means tampering with what we have received – and that is to endanger what God has given us.

Liberals insist the church must change if it is to survive. The worldview of the early Christians included beliefs that have been scientifically disproved (for example that the earth was fixed centrally in the universe, and everything else, including the sun, revolved around it). To hold to that worldview is to invite the ridicule of educated people, the liberals insist – so our Christianity must change to include what science teaches.

How Christians react to the word progress can often tell us which camp they belong to. Liberals have no problem with it, often terming themselves progressives. Conservatives, however, often associate progress with the abandonment of what they wish to retain. It is almost the equivalent of apostasy – the rejection of their faith.

Another key phrase to which liberals and conservatives usually react differently is ‘the modern world’. Conservatives want no accommodation with the modern world, because this too smacks of an abandonment of what the church has always been – a critic of the world. Liberals, on the other hand insist that if it is to survive in the modern world the church must adapt itself to that world – otherwise it will not be taken seriously.

I am now convinced that conservatives are quite right to complain about the modern world – and that liberals are perfectly correct to say we must adapt to it. Let me explain.

When Jesus said I have overcome the world I believe he meant that he had resisted the temptation to be a success as success was defined in that world: in military, political and religious terms. He was not to be just another David who would declare a new independent Jewish kingdom, and precipitate another war with Rome. He was a messiah sent to lead us – all of us – to a peaceful world that lies beyond any we can imagine – because our understanding of success is the acclaim of our own era , and our era – led by the media – will acclaim virtually anything.

To adapt our faith to our own era I believe that we must see the potential that contemporary culture presents for raising questions about the meaning of success today – understood especially as the acquisition of wealth and celebrity.

We must also do what true Christians have always done: challenge contemporary culture by identifying the human flaw of mere mindless conformity – and choose to be different.

We are at a moment in time when true freedom – Gospel freedom – is both possible and needed by the world. It is a moment when the minds of many people are open and searching. We must seize that moment.

One example of seizing the moment lies in the language of secularism itself. For example, many educated people today have been influenced by the ideas of a great psychologist called Abraham Maslow. His work on human motivation suggests that beyond the satisfaction of material human needs, and even the need for success, lies the need for self-actualization – the full realization of one’s personal gifts and potential.

There is absolutely no reason why Christians should not define this need in Christian terms. We need above all to become our true selves – the persons that God wants us to be – making full use of the talents he has given us.

In Christian spirituality, human gifts are not simply the possession of the one who has been gifted: they belong to the community also. To fully realize our gifts, and to become truly free, we must understand the freedom that lies in voluntary service.

And conservatives are right to insist that the church can never change: it must be centred on its founder. Yet liberals are also right to insist that the church must learn to speak to the modern world in a language that it understands – because Jesus would have done that too.

He would not have said “forget self-actualisation and seek salvation instead”. He would instead have asked: Can you truly fulfil all of your gifts without seeking first the greatest of all – the gift of love?

By a remarkable coincidence the word salvation is very close in meaning to the word salutary meaning conducive to health. And the word holy is very close to the word whole . We cannot be whole – self-actualised – or healthy , or saved , until we are centred upon the source of all love and all truth: the being we Christians know as God.

And while conservatives are right to insist that there can be no progress in moving away from the truth, liberals are right to say that we can make progress towards understanding and expressing that truth more clearly.

Stupid Christian evangelism – the kind that talks about being saved as though the meaning of that word had not been almost bankrupted by mere repetition – has done enormous damage to Christianity by failing to connect its convictions with the language, and thought, of our time.

How many saved people have we met who have a clear idea of what they mean by the word? They usually remind us of nothing more clearly than those daft young Chinese fanatics who waved the little red book of Mao Zedong during the cultural revolution in the 1960s.

I spent the first ten days of June 2004 in the close company of someone who has a completely different take on Vatican II – Tom Lennon, founder of United Christian Aid. Just a few years younger than I, he reacted strongly against the liturgical changes introduced after the council, and decided it was part of a vast Masonic conspiracy to overthrow the church.

I am quite convinced, on the other hand, that the theory of a global Masonic anti-Christian conspiracy began with elitist Catholic clerics who opposed democratic ideas – especially the idea of human equality – at the time of the French Revolution. To see Vatican II as part of a Masonic plot is, I believe, deeply mistaken, even perverse.

So I sometimes found Tom uncomfortable company. Yet I deeply respect him for something that we liberals too often lack – a commitment to helping people who do not have the luxury of being able to discuss great questions on the Internet or anywhere else – the poor of Eastern Europe. He founded a charity for that purpose, and gave me the priceless gift of an experience of that work.

Because I have spent time with Tom I now know why he did it. He believes that God is a pure spirit of love who wishes to rebuild the world on that principle. That, for me, is a Vatican II principle – so Tom and I can work together on that shared principle. All our disagreements are secondary to it

That, I believe, is why Jesus made loving, not knowing, the highest priority for all of us. He never told us to be right – to spend our lives amassing so much knowledge that we can tell everyone else where they are wrong.

Life is a pilgrimage that will end only when we die. An essential element of that pilgrimage is the road our minds travel, asking and re-asking the great questions. We must never suppose that we have understood everything, and must be constantly open to the questions and answers of others. To suppose that the point we have now reached is our final position – an exalted platform from which we can now criticize the ideas of everyone else – is to declare our pilgrimage at an end prematurely. There is always something more to learn – so intellectual arrogance is always unwise.

It is time we liberals and conservatives learned to continue our disagreements while we travel together as pilgrims, doing our utmost as we travel to lift the burdens that lie so heavily on others – co-operating for that purpose. It is time to put Christian love above everything else – even the need to be right.

Catholic conservatives and liberals will both be right if we obey the great commandment of the Lord – to love one another. We will all be wrong if we don’t.

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Revitalising the Catholic Church in Ireland: I – Crisis

Sean O’Conaill © Copyright Reality 2004

“Let’s face it – the Catholic Church is on its way out wherever economic progress and universal education take hold. It is a relic of the distant past when uneducated people needed to believe in a superior being up in the sky and priests to do their thinking for them. It has no place in the twenty-first century. In Ireland, where the power of clergy has finally been broken, it will soon be a distant memory.”

This seems to be the shared opinion of most of Ireland’s media pundits these days. Resentful of the power of clergy to dominate the educational system, and even to control politicians as late as the 1980s, Ireland’s mostly anticlerical intellectuals were delighted to see Irish Catholic bishops score a series of devastating own goals in the 1990s. This process continued into the third millennium. In September 2003 Fintan O’Toole declared in the Irish Times that the struggle he and other liberal and leftist intellectuals had waged since the 1960s against the influence of the Irish Catholic hierarchy was virtually over, with victory going to his side of the argument.

Now lay Catholics themselves can list a hatful of critical problems that together seem destined to sideline their church, making it even less influential here than the Church of England next door. Here are ten that seem to me to be of special importance.

First, a series of media scandals has undermined the moral authority of Catholic bishops, the supreme teachers in the Church. The policy of concealment of the sexual abuse of Irish Catholic children by some priests, coupled with the frequent absence of Christian love in the treatment of victims and their families – has shocked the Catholic laity far more deeply than the abuse itself. In the absence of any other explanation by the bishops, laity are forced to conclude that the first priority of Catholic leadership was, in too many cases, to preserve the public image and prestige of clergy generally, rather than to protect the innocence of children and to obey the great command of the Gospels – the law of love. This has shattered the bond of trust that led laity to respect Catholic teaching on, for example, the importance of the family, the dignity of every human being, and sexual matters generally. It’s not clear what the bishop’s crosier symbolises anymore, if it doesn’t mean that children will always come first.

Second, the ability of the Catholic clergy to attract young men into their ranks, already weakening in the early 1990s, has collapsed altogether in the wake of these scandals. This now affects all the religious orders, as well as the diocesan clergy. Moreover, the rapid economic growth of the 1990s has made the career of a celibate priest increasingly less attractive especially when priests themselves complain about poor leadership and too little room for initiative. As clergy have – at least in the experience of everyone now alive – always run the church, how can it survive if there aren’t any?

Third, older clergy often seem ill equipped to explain how Catholic belief is relevant to the needs and questions of lay people today. The Creeds were written over fifteen hundred years ago. What do they mean in a world of mobile phones and universal education? What do they have to do with the problems of raising teenagers whose minds are tuned in to Hollywood, science fiction and the music industry? How do they help in grappling with problems such as addiction, depression and suicide? A generally aging clergy seem more and more out of touch with the minds of rising generations. Too often they don’t either like or understand youth culture, and can’t seem to get through. Too often they complain about the modern world and seem to want to live in the past. That’s often why so many teenagers can’t stick weekly Mass anymore: they find it boring and meaningless.

Fourth, despite the hierarchy’s verbal emphasis on human dignity, lay people are not equally respected in their own church. They are talked at, not listened to. The wisdom and concerns of women especially get no hearing. Parents have not been invited to discuss with clergy the growing problem of influencing young people who are now targeted by culture-changing and alien commercial influences. Most bishops avoid occasions where they will be questioned by lay people, or obliged to listen to them. This makes it impossible for parents to defend Catholic teaching effectively. It seems to prove also that secular culture – where the intelligence of lay people is equally respected – is superior, even in Christian terms.

Fifth, clergy generally are either unhealthily hung up on sex, or unwilling or unable to talk about it. The sexual scandals, and the problems that many priests obviously have with celibacy, have seriously undermined the credibility of the official policy on, for example, birth control – which very few lay people can understand. When teenagers are taught that cohabitation offends God as much as genocide they fall about laughing. This makes many of them wonder about abortion too, and whether their Church is really committed to fighting Aids. The Church has lost its persuasiveness on sexual issues at the very time when clear, balanced sensible teaching is really needed.

Sixth, this clerical hang-up on sex has tended to create a false popular impression that Catholicism has more to do with sexual repression than liberation of the spirit and enlightenment of the mind. This is partly why the growing secular interest in spirituality has led many to suppose that the Bible is a less useful source than oriental mysticism. Furthermore, lay people often get the impression that they are considered spiritually second rate by clerics because they are not celibate. A recent beatification reinforced this impression by emphasizing that the beatified couple had slept separately for decades before death. Such events make Catholicism more the butt of crude TV humour than an object of curiosity and respect. More seriously, they erode the dignity and morale of Catholic parents who have every reason to believe that spirituality and a full sexual relationship are as complementary and compatible now as they were in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

Seventh, the secular world allows lay people to look together freely for solutions to the great problems of today – depression and addiction, for example. It has even empowered young people whom the church has harmed and then tried to forget about. It gives them the freedom to organise and to support one another. The clerical church, on the other hand, seems afraid of freedom, of letting lay people organize freely. Laity anxious to be active in their church far too often find that, if they try to take some initiative, someone will soon tell them the priest or the bishop won’t like it. (To be fair, it is too often another lay person who tells them that.)

Eighth, even where effective priests get lay people working together in parishes discussing the Bible, say, that priest can be changed by the bishop without asking anyone, and his replacement may well decide he doesn’t want that group to continue. It folds up straight away. This makes lay people despair. Parishes need some kind of permanent structure that will give lay people an enduring role and provide continuity in parish life – but there’s no sign of this yet.

Ninth, despite generations of Catholic control of education, Catholic thought has now virtually no prestige in secular Ireland. Worse still, most of those in whom the Church invested its greatest educational efforts – the children of the middle classes – have shown virtually no commitment as adults to social justice. They now support a political culture that privileges themselves at the expense of the poorest underclass in western Europe. Although often nominally Catholic still, most take little part in church life, and are content to complain from the sidelines. Irish Catholic education requires a complete reappraisal on these grounds alone.

Another argument for this is that a Catholic formation that ended for most adults in their teens is inadequate to carry them through life, especially in a rapidly changing culture. Now, as adults, with much more experience of life, they have new questions, and a need to update their ideas. However, Catholic adult education is in very short supply and even where it exists it too often works on the old one-way pattern, with people being handed the Catechism, for example, and told to learn that. Parents can’t be expected simply to parrot answers when young people will ask: “What do [you] really believe?” We need far better adult education, focused upon real problems and involving completely free discussion. There’s no sign of that happening either.

Reconsideration of the Irish church’s entire educational effort is especially important in light of the specific mission given to the laity by Vatican II: to consecrate the world to God . If laity are to understand this mission and begin to carry it out together, they need to be called together to discern and discuss its many implications, and their own role. Many educated and once-committed lay people have lost hope that this will ever happen. Many have also abandoned the church as a consequence.

Tenth, the church generally seems deeply divided between ‘liberals’ who want more change, and ‘conservatives’ who think that change has already gone too far. These differences are so wide it’s sometimes difficult to see how the church can hold together.


No doubt, some of you will disagree with this list of problems, or the way they are described – and others may see other problems I have missed. If so, why not pitch in with your point of view?

I will be approaching these problems not as an expert theologian but as a layman with a lay perspective. What I have to say will be both challenging and in need of challenge, because none of us has a monopoly of wisdom. We inherit a great tradition, but have difficulty in discerning what it is asking of us in a rapidly changing world. The mind and insight and enthusiasm of the whole people of God need somehow to be engaged if we are to rise to the enormous problems that now face us all.

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The Day the World Changed – 11/09/2001

Sean O’Conaill  © Reality 2001

For most of my lifetime I’ve been teaching history and current affairs, and in that lifetime already there have been days of special significance.

The night in 1962 when JFK told us about Soviet missiles on Cuba; that other awful night in 1963 we learned he had been assassinated; the day of the first serious violence in Northern Ireland in August 1969; the day in 1989 the Berlin Wall came down.

Yet none hit me with so much force as Tuesday 11th September 2001 – the day over 3000 people died in deliberate air crashes in New York and Washington. On my screen as I write there is a shot of Flight 175 about to pass through the enormous glazed wall of the World Trade Centre south building. I keep it there as a memento of an era that is about to pass away, a reminder that we are now in a different time. And that we owe to those dying and about to die at that moment – and to those they left behind – a monument that will do justice to their loss.

That image perfectly expresses the vulnerability of the US, at that moment the world’s only superpower.  Its terrifying nuclear missile shield, its strategic bomber force, its air and army and naval bases throughout the world, its nuclear submarines, its dozen floating airports, its huge external and internal intelligence services the CIA and FBI – all had been powerless to protect its most vulnerable citizens as they began their innocent day.


All of which raises a critical question: Is the concept of the superpower itself a dangerous illusion when only one superpower is left to become a target of a terrorism that it cannot directly engage with superpower arms?superpower Is the vastness of its strategic military strength, and the global nature of that power, now an invitation to the murder of its own citizens from within, and to a global religious war?

The concept of the superpower emerged in the period after 1945. Two powers had contributed most to the defeat of the axis powers – the  USA and the USSR. Only one as yet possessed a nuclear capability, but by 1962 this inequality had disappeared and the world stood poised on the brink of nuclear holocaust. The superpowers were already competing also in space, and it was the US decision to build a defensive satellite shield against nuclear missiles that finally broke the USSR’s capability to compete in the late 1980s. The collapse of the soviet empire from 1989 left one superpower only, with an apparently global dominance.

But global dominance – the aspiration of conquerors from Alexander to Hitler – is a dangerous position to be in. In fighting the Cold War US support for Israel was a potent source of alienation of Islamic peoples who sided with the Palestinians who were being squeezed out. Geared for nuclear warfare, or conventional warfare with forces prepared to engage in pitched battles, the US now faced a new and subtle enemy whose strength was anti-western fanaticism and an ability to improvise.

“They have woken a mighty giant,”  President Bush has now assured us, paraphrasing the Japanese Admiral Yamamoto after Pearl Harbour. But Yamamoto had actually said ‘sleeping giant’ – and this seems far more appropriate as a comment on September 11th. There is a sense in which the entire political and military leadership of the US was indeed asleep on that morning, and was then woken out of a complacency of catastrophic proportions.

As all the ingredients for the disaster were already known to be present, future historians will set their students the task of explaining why the disaster was allowed to happen. Fanatical middle eastern suicide bombers had attacked US targets before, and had recently killed hundreds of Israelis and severely damaged a US warship; hundreds of men from middle eastern lands deeply alienated from the US were known to be in the US; US flying schools did not require security clearance for their pupils; US internal air security was known not to prevent the carrying on board of potentially deadly weapons; the flight decks of these aircraft were known to be accessible to armed passengers.

Nothing more was required to allow the most appalling internal disaster ever to befall the US at the hands of its enemies – and these facts all lay before those charged with the defence of US citizens during the years this plan was meticulously prepared.

To argue that no one could foresee this is specious: these terrorists had foreseen it, probably as early as five years before. Specific US politicians and military and security and intelligence personnel had the task of outguessing the nation’s enemies, of thinking the unthinkable in order to prevent it, during that time. They either failed to do so, or were discouraged from pursuing the issue Scapegoating of individuals is pointless: there was a national failure of leadership at the summit, affecting the previous Democratic presidency of Fulbright scholar Bill Clinton as much as that of the Republican George Bush, and Congress also under both administrations. No-one at the summit wanted to think the unthinkable, although that is precisely what terrorists do.

Now that the US is attempting to build an alliance against terrorism it needs to avoid words and actions that must prevent that alliance ever becoming effectual. Words like ‘Crusade’ – for the Islamic world this has the same overtones as ‘Jihad’ for the west. The Crusades were Christian military expeditions against the Islamic rulers of the Holy Lands in the Middle Ages, called initially – and inexcusably – by the Papacy. An estimated 40 – 70,000 Jews and Arabs perished in the rape of Jerusalem by western ‘Christian’ knights in 1099 CE. The fact that George Bush did not apparently know this, and did not employ an adviser who could tell him, shows clearly the absence of a due respect for Islam at the summit of government at this critical moment.

The alliance must also avoid the indiscriminate use of force anywhere in the world. As I write, US military strikes of some kind against Afghanistan seem a possibility – with consequences that could include the alienation of much of the Islamic world from any anti-terrorist alliance. Since the bin Laden argument is that the US is bent upon global domination, unilateralist action by the US against any Islamic nation can only strengthen the bin Ladens and enhance their reputation.

US after 9-11What is needed above all is for the US to rethink its role and posture in the world. Is it bent upon economic and cultural as well as military dominance, or is it the big brother that guards the freedoms and dignity, and cultural identity of others as determinedly as its own?

At a critical moment in the development of the Irish peace process the London government found it useful to say simply that it had no longer any strategic interest in retaining control of Northern Ireland. This allowed most republicans to stack, if not yet to relinquish, their arms and bring us peace of a kind. Something similar is required from the US to clarify its intentions, especially with regard to the Islamic world and Israel. This could also strengthen its relations with the western powers.

When those who devised the US constitution wondered how to express the essential equality of the states that belonged to it, they decided that the US Senate would each have just two members from each state. This reassured those who argued that states with smaller populations would be always outvoted and ignored. The nearest thing we have to a world congress, the UN, gives greater power to the permanent superpower members of the Security Council. It must surely be obvious that when the list of superpowers is reduced to one, the credibility of the UN as an impartial body must be weakened. The time has come to re-examine its constitution – and here also the US must play a crucial role.

Having climbed to the summit of world power, the US has now to decide how that power is to be used within a framework of mutual international respect. Respect is only possible within a framework of equality. Equality was the original program of those who framed the US Declaration of Independence of 1776, and makes a perfectly respectable program now for a new world order. Is the administration of George Bush up to this – or will the US go on defending a supremacy that must remain a target for all the ‘young guns’ that must emerge to challenge it – with heaven knows what consequences for its own citizens, as well as the rest of the world?

What is power?

As I watched the aftermath of this shocking catastrophe in New York I had as a guest in my home a Dutch naval officer, one of a group of eight Christians visiting Coleraine from the Hague. “What is power?” Rudolph Francis asked at one point.

The question is so appropriate. These hijackers had armed themselves with nothing more than information, basic flying skills and knives. The information allowed them to co-ordinate the seizure of four planes that had left three different airports within fifteen minutes of one another. Knives and piloting skills allowed them to turn three of these into flying bombs of great destructive power, aimed at the political and economic capitals of the world’s only superpower. The factor that stunned the US – their willingness to give their lives for this enterprise – has undoubtedly helped to shape the history of the next century. It is equivalent to the assassination by Serbs of the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary in 1914. The consequences of that action included the Great War and the downfall of that empire, with consequences that still reverberate in eastern Europe.

What will be the consequences of September 11th, 2001? One possibility, which must at all costs be avoided, is another ‘clash of civilisations’ between the West and Islam. To avoid it we must all become far more aware of the multitude of different cultures, beliefs and attitudes to be found among the world’s one billion Muslims. Islam is at least as diverse as the Christian world. The fanaticism of the suicide hijackers is fuelled by a perception of the west, led by the US, as a purveyor of a corrupt globalisation, threatening to Islamic faith and culture. The best way for the west to undermine that perception is to rediscover the Gospels, which threaten no-one.

Our own church could begin by acknowledging – in a substantial document – the disastrous error of the Crusades, called initially by Pope Urban II in an address that was not recorded verbatim. One version of it has him asking:

“Can anyone tolerate that we do not even share equally with the Moslems the inhabited Earth?”

As this ‘take’ on the papacy’s attitude to Islam would align it with a possible tide of anti-Islamism today, it is all the more necessary that the church distance itself from this discreditable era of its history. This beautiful Earth is not a western or Christian domain but a dear heritage of all its children. Our Bible – some of which we share with Islam – records that we are one family, from the beginning, and our gospels insist that we are destined to be at peace. Most Islamic scholars share this vision, so the earth need not become a battlefield between any two or more great faiths.

And this vision of a world enjoying a secure diversity is perfectly compatible with the greatest traditions of the USA. To protect its citizens it reconciles in its constitution the principle of the separation of the three different elements of state power, with the other vital principle of national unity against external aggression. It can now lead the world to a permanent peace by placing equal emphasis upon both principles in a genuine new world order. The world’s peoples and faiths can unite as one world against fanatical violence, in defence of the freedom of all to be themselves.

And the idea of a New World Order was, of course first floated by the first President Bush. It is time for us all to begin thinking about what the phrase might mean.

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