…I want to pick two challenges in our environment in these islands, but generally across Europe and North America. Two challenges which undermine the presuppositions on which we depend as Christians to give us a common language to address the challenges of our society. The first is the challenge of economic idolatry. It has always existed, but the potential of global markets and the impact of technology has reached a level which, as you in this island know better than most, can hide the contingency of life, so that everyone thinks that everything will always get better, and then, as all idols do, topple and betray its worshippers more quickly and severely than at any time in history.
The second challenge, made far more dangerous by the impact of the first, is an incapacity to cope with difference, with diversity, a sense that you win or you lose, but you cannot co-exist. That, again, is something that is made worse by technology because our differences are brought face to face with us in a way that they never have been before in our history. . . And here, in Northern Ireland, that, too, that challenge of the incapacity to live with one another, is something which you have learned, that you go on learning, and in your resolution of it have much to teach the world, because in so many provinces of the Anglican Communion which we have visited around the world over the last 18 months, 32 others, in the places where there is war and struggle, Northern Ireland is seen as a beacon of light and hope, a place which can face deep-set historic division and turn from it. And it is symbolic and significant that Canon David Porter, Director of Reconciliation at Lambeth, and known to many of you, who is here this evening, is from Northern Ireland.