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Principal's Address, Heythrop College, 22nd September 2014

Although one likes to begin a new academic year with a sense of stability and openness to what the future will bring, I find that recent events in this country and around the world make it harder to do this than usual.

A whole summer devoted to the debate over Scottish independence has left many of us wondering what will - if not immediately then eventually -  become of this apparently not so United Kingdom, and whether the simple word “British,” which many of us take for granted, is beginning to lose its meaning. Then there is the big health scare with the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa. A crisis has unfolded in the Ukraine. And even more deeply unsettling than all of this has been the rapidly deteriorating situation in the Middle East and in parts of Africa.

In the face of so much conflict, injustice, violence and sheer human suffering, it can be hard to keep hope alive, and to trust that something better awaits us over the horizon.

I don’t know if you were as struck, as I was, by Pope Francis’ recent reflection that the various crises and conflicts which blight the contemporary world amount to a piecemeal Third World War. It is not, perhaps, a pleasant thought. But it is one that should make us sit up and think.


To download a full transcript of the Principal's address, please click here.

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