A lens of love in Northern Ireland

Many people outside the United Kingdom were probably unaware of the deep significance of the State Visit to the Republic of Ireland by Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip this past spring. The first visit by a British monarch since Ireland declared its freedom from the Crown in 1916 was something that could never have been envisaged during the years of turbulence and violence in Northern Ireland, which continues to be part of the United Kingdom.

Cross-border collaboration in terrorist acts and huge political tensions were common elements of what has become known as the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland. During the more than 40 years this turmoil lasted, there were many false dawns and failed initiatives at all levels. Old historical and religious grudges were held and cited as the legitimate reasons for destructive terrorist actions. It seemed that people would never get beyond the history of hurts and hatred handed down from those before.

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Religion and the responsibility to love
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