ABOUT 20 years ago I went to Bhutan to visit an architect friend who was working there. It was quite the most extraordinary trip; as close as I’ll ever get to the society of the early modern period here.

Journalists understand that the identity of a confidential source must be concealed, even at the risk of prison for contempt of court. Fortunately, it rarely happens. It is even less likely that a Catholic priest would ever be called upon to reveal something said to him under the seal of the confessional

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I’VE BEEN TO Jerusalem and I’ve been to Mexico, but until this week, I’d never been to Prescot Street, near the Tower of London.

At the beginning of this month I had a bizarre but illuminating experience. I visited Cape Wrath, which is the extreme north-western tip of the United Kingdom.

Priests are often ordained on or around 29 June because it is the feast day of Sts Peter and Paul. It is incredible to think that two of the most important saints in the Christian calendar share a feast day.

THE FORMER Irish president, Mary McAleese, was, not so long ago, something of a poster girl for modern Catholicism.

The scene: one of the country’s choicest cricket grounds. The setting: a highly seasoned senior civil servant in reflective mood.

An artist I know was recently advised by a woman at his local parish that the new thing these days is “mindfulness”.

Making someone a saint acknowledges that someone good is now with God – and in a position to intercede for the rest of us – but it also says something about the kinds of people the Church holds up for our veneration and imitation.

Something is going wrong in British society, which I would call a “loss of heart”.

Something is happening to the high streets of country towns, and I don’t like it. The shops are closing down.


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