Bono: The Beliefnet Interview

Continued from page 2

This year might turn out to be even more of a millennium year for us than last year. There's a chance that if we focus on the HIV/AIDS crisis, particularly in Africa--that's the shock to the system that might allow for deeper debt relief.

I've had two meetings with Tony Blair in the last few weeks, and he realizes that he is in power at a time of great importance. This is akin to the bubonic plague or Hiroshima or the Holocaust. I think he is going to, along with your new president, work with the industrialized nations and the African leadership to really have a go at this problem. And debt relief will be part of that package.

Do you have the same level of rapport with the Bush administration as you did with Clinton?

Yes. In fact, if you look at the cover of The New York Times when debt cancellation went through [Congress], the headline was--and for me it was an amusing triumvirate--"The Pope, U2 and George W. Prevail." We worked very hard to get both Republican and Democratic authorship on that package, and I'm confident the Republican leadership will follow through. In the second debate, [Bush] mentioned debt cancellation as one of the ideas he was excited by.

Because debt relief became a religious issue, you were able to meet with many politicians with whom you probably agree on nothing else. What was that like?

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I really have had to swallow my own prejudice at times. Because I was suspicious of the traditional Christian church, I tended to tar them all with the same brush. That was a mistake, because there are righteous people working in a whole rainbow of belief systems--from Hasidic Jews to right-wing Bible Belters to charismatic Catholics.

The idea of turning your music into a tool for evangelism is missing the point. Music is the language of the spirit anyway. Its first function is praise to creation.

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