‘A serious moral question to be properly understood’
Catholic human rights discourse in Northern Ireland in the 1980s
in Theories of International Relations and Northern Ireland
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Liberal scholars have historically stressed the role of NGOs, including churches, in world politics. Recently, scholars have also stressed the normative influence of religious actors as agents in international relations. The seventh chapter examines the role of the Catholic Church in the Northern Ireland peace process by analysing the theological basis of Catholic attitudes and beliefs regarding peace and the manifestations of these teachings as applied by bishops in Northern Ireland. The chapter demonstrates that faith creates action and explains how an important religious tradition in Northern Ireland promoted peace by recognizing and responding to the new kind of wars and political conflicts that have emerged in recent decades. As the nature of conflict changed from a state-centred model into one which saw civil wars and ethnic-conflict becoming the norm, so too did Catholic responses; national Churches began to realise that protest and non-violent action was no longer enough to create a more peaceful world. Consequently, the Catholic hierarchy in Northern Ireland sought to achieve peace by working for justice, especially for political prisoners and those who suffered discrimination.

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