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We must change our mindset on conflict

Paul Mullan, in invoking in his dispute with Nelson McCausland (without contextualising) a "rabid anti-Catholicism of 17th century England" (Write Back, November 13), is illustrative of the mindset here in Northern Ireland (probably in all Ireland) that I was getting at as at the root of our trouble in my previous letter (Write Back, November 8).

His "rabid anti-Catholicism" (with its suggestion of a mad dog) needs to be seen in the context of what went before in the England of Queen Mary and her husband, Philip of Spain: they had seen to the burning alive (as a deterrence) of some 300-odd individuals for their religious activities over a period of five years (enough to make anyone go mad).

In Ireland Mary did not return to the status of a Lordship held for the papacy (as it had been held since the days of Pope Adrian IV, although there is some questioning of his involvement, but whether so or not, Ireland was reaffirmed as a papal fiefdom by King John in 1213), with appropriate taxes paid to Rome and some taxes shared between King and Pope until Henry VIII rejected papal authority and elevated Ireland as a Kingdom with himself proclaimed King at a Mass in Christ Church, Dublin.

And we can't stop there, but go back to the Emperor Constantine's convening of the Council of Nicea and mixing Church and Empire, enforcing throughout his domains the Council's conclusions, which he had helped to hasten: substantially, the creed which is recited to this day on Eucharist Sunday in the Roman and Anglican traditions; the Orthodox in recital keep to the earlier wording.

The mindset rooted in these stories, as they have been told in Ireland (and that is usually that they have not been told) of the making and the unmaking of a Western Christian world order (for the East parted from it before it reached its peak) and the similarity of that world to the conflicts in the Islamic world today should be looked at.

This likens it to the "talking cure" in-depth psychology: if the troubling story that is causing the conflict can be brought to the surface, the problem of living dissolves. We can be free to face today's problems.

W A MILLER

Belfast

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