With Israel's military actions in Gaza this week, Blair has an influential role as an envoy to the Middle East for the Quartet on the Middle East (United States, United Nations, Russia, and the European Union). These four powers have been pressing for a negotiated solution between Israelis and Palestinians and strongly favor a two-state solution.
You appeal to the common values found in different religions. President Bush appeals to the values inherent in human dignity. Is there a difference?
Globalization operates to push people together, to blur distinctions between different nations and cultures. It's helping to create a multi-faith society. That faith becomes a constructive and progressive force to provide globalization with a human face and with some spiritual capital.
Alternatively, globalization could be a reactionary and destructive force that pulls people apart. In a multi-faith society, it is by people understanding each other that we learn to respect each other. By respecting each other, [we] get to peaceful coexistence.
Are you saying the activities of Saddleback's Pastor Warren are an example of faith and globalization?
I'm a great fan of Rick's. He provides a really inspirational example of somebody who can combine a very direct and simple way of explaining things to be prepared to involve themselves in major global issues. He represents an evolution of religious organization in which people are prepared to encounter those of different faiths and try to understand and learn about them.
How would you convince a person of non-faith to be in alliance with you?
People who are anti-faith can see that faith matters. Everyone has an interest in peaceful coexistence. Even if you are not someone of faith, you can see the sensible purpose of bringing people of different faiths into greater understanding of and respect for each other.
Secular political ideology almost destroyed the world in the twentieth century. Extremism is not limited to those of religious belief. The question in the twenty-first century will be: Is there a way that we can build spiritual capital? There's a yearning within humanity for that.
As a Catholic, how do you assess your own church's place in relation to globalization?
We're exploring the degree to which organized religion assists this process or can get in the way of it. The Catholic Church does fantastic work on the ground. The Vatican is now taking up with interfaith initiatives.
But there's always, in all religions, a lot of nervousness about the interfaith idea. People have found their own faith enriched by the faith of someone else. Faith is a guide or thread in the process of globalization. That is what I would call the interaction of faith and globalization.