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What is the role of faith in our politics?*

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Forty years ago this month, Pope John Paul II came to Ireland. I was just beginning my last year in school at Saint Columb’s College, Derry. It was a tense time. In the three months leading up to the pope’s visit, 36 people were killed in the Troubles – including 16 Catholic and Protestant civilians.
In 1979 I went to see the Pope at Drogheda and subconsciously I think his words on that occasion have possibly framed much of my thinking about this evening’s theme – the role of faith in our politics.
Pope John Paul II was stopping off in Ireland on his way to address the United Nations in New York on the theme of peace, justice and human rights. He came to Drogheda as “… a pilgrim of peace”.

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