Spring 2021

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The World in 2021: Spring 2021 | Volume 110

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The above paraphrasing of Kevin O’Rourke’s comment, made in the context of the unfolding process of Brexit in 2018, sets the stage for the Spring 2021 issue of Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review. The massive transformations across social, political, economic and artistic spheres in recent times give the contributors both pause for thought and fodder for reflection.

The potential consequences of events such as Brexit, COVID-19 and the Trump era in the USA have exposed instabilities in prevailing Western perspectives and provoked increases in authoritarian nationalism, xenophobia, individualism and racism across the world.

Kevin O’Rourke takes a broad perspective and considers the impact on the global economy; he suggests a levelling of employment standards and an end to inequality. David Holloway, with a spotlight on post-Trump USA, ponders the fragility of the democratic system even in places where we did not suspect that to be the case. Tomáš Halík considers the emerging links between religious fundamentalism and nationalist, authoritarian, right-wing political movements. Bryan Fanning traces the genesis of Christian democracy in Europe and the birth of the EU. David Ford seeks a wise worldview in the context of Micheal O’Siadhail’s recently-published The Five Quintets. And William Kingston urges innovation in the Irish economic response to the changing terms of globalisation.

Elsewhere Frank Brennan SJ writes about the trial, incarceration, appeal and dismissal of charges against Cardinal George Pell and the marked media hostility surrounding the entire case. And Brendan Walsh considers the contribution of the teaching religious in Ireland between the 1940s and 1970s.

Overall, as divergent viewpoints harden and silos are reinforced by a combination of external circumstance and internal narrative there is a growing recognition, championed by Pope Francis in his recent writings, of the need for an acknowledgment of ‘the other’ and open-minded dialogue within and between countries.


  • ‘Nobody Will Ever Remember It’: An Oral History of the Contribution of the Teaching Religious in Ireland (1)

    Brendan Walsh

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    This article seeks to review the contribution of teaching religious (sisters, priests and brothers) to schooling in Ireland between the 1940s and late 1970s, and principally employs the oral testimony of those who were taught by, and later taught with or as, members of religious congregations.

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  • ‘Returning to Normalcy?’: The United States Now

    David Holloway

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    ‘Returning to normalcy’ is a phrase one hears a lot in the United States today. That is understandable, given the continuing, surging Covid-19 pandemic.

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  • Christian Democracy and the Birth of the European Union

    Bryan Fanning

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    In the aftermath of the Second World War Christian Democracy quickly became a prominent political force in several European countries, though not in Scandinavia or Great Britain.

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  • Industrial Policy in Ireland: Responding to COVID-19

    William Kingston

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    It is clearly inevitable that the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, the events which have so dominated in 2020, will transform Irish economic conditions in a fundamental way.

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  • Seeking a Wiser Worldview in the Twenty-first Century: Micheal O’Siadhail’s The Five Quintets (1)

    David F Ford

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    That is how, within an imagined conversation in the fifth and final canto of the fifth of The Five Quintets, Hannah Arendt addresses the author of the poem, Micheal O’Siadhail.

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  • The Revolution of Mercy and a New Ecumenism

    Tomáš Halík

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    Some time ago, sensational and striking news from the Vatican appeared on the front pages of the world’s leading newspapers.

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  • The World in 2021

    Kevin O’Rourke

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    With the dawning of 2021 some of us are experiencing an emotion that has become unfamiliar recently: optimism.

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  • Where has Cardinal Pell’s Case Brought Us in the Australian Church?

    Frank Brennan SJ

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    Pope John Paul II’s biographer George Weigel, writing the Introduction to Cardinal Pell’s Prison Journal, describes this writer as one who ‘had previously held no brief for Cardinal Pell’ and as ‘one who was a severe critic’.1 I plead guilty to both charges.

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