From the editor's desk

With its menacing assertiveness tinged with touchy paranoia, post-Soviet Russia dominates the agenda of Western geopolitics and diplomacy. This problem even extends into the realm of sport. Now it has taken on a theological dimension.

The vocation of the politician is noble, said Aristotle, for its purpose is to work for the happiness of the people. British political life has suddenly and shockingly been brought face to face with this ancient truth by the tragic and violent death of the Member of Parliament for the West Yorkshire constituency of Batley and Spen, Jo Cox.

The American sage H.L. Mencken once observed that “there is always a well-known solution to every human problem – neat, plausible, and wrong.” He could almost have been commenting on the decision to hold a UK referendum on membership of the European Union and the subsequent campaign.

Pope Francis has announced new procedures for the disciplining and dismissal of bishops who failed to protect children from being sexually abused by clergy. Although technically they could have been investigated under existing church legislation, the lack of precision about the offence and the clumsiness and slowness of the process were crying out for reform.

The parallels between current political upheavals in Britain and the United States were wittily pinned down by William Hague, former Tory leader, when he called those fighting to pull Britain out of the European Union “the Trump campaign with better hair”.

Let priests decide on the mass Premium

02 June 2016
French-speaking Catholics are about to face the same aggravation that overtook their English-speaking co-religionists at the end of 2011. That is when the new English translation of the rite of Mass was imposed in place of the translation that had been in use for 40 years.

The fortieth anniversary of Richard Dawkins’ most influential scientific work, The Selfish Gene, has been marked with interviews and profiles that celebrate his fame as a controversialist rather than as a biologist – and his recovery after a recent minor stroke.

Becket’s lesson for today Premium

26 May 2016
It is easy to mock fascination with sacred relics, particularly, in the case of a fragment of St Thomas Becket’s elbow now going the rounds in Britain, when historical events it commemorates strike a discordant note in the modern world.

With a recent past such as that of Europe, the rise of the far Right is profoundly worrying. The presidential election in Austria this week saw the narrow defeat of a candidate who has said that “Islam has no place in Austria”. Austria has had a far-Right fringe to its politics for decades.

The Royal College of Midwives is calling on the Government to recruit more midwives for the NHS, as there are not enough. That is its proper job. The RCM is also demanding a change in the law to decriminalise abortion right up to the moment of birth.

Is the BBC a cherished national institution and major curator of the nation’s cultural assets or just one more mass media provider of information and entertainment, among many? The Government’s White Paper on the future of the BBC’s royal charter was widely expected to take the latter view.

A Europe that deserves to survive Premium

12 May 2016
David Cameron’s rather clumsy presentation of the case for British membership of the European Union was instantly over-simplified into a warning that a British exit could lead to a Third World War. He left himself open to the mockery of the other side because he overstated his case while failing to explain the subtle ways in which British influence in Europe is an aid to continental stability.

If there was one singular message from the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, it was that civilisation needs religion if it is not to lose its way completely. His objective was to explore and enhance the role that Catholicism could play in that relationship. Nowhere did he set that forth more explicitly than in his address to church and civic leaders in Westminster Hall during his state visit to Britain in 2010.

Leaders must stamp out bigotry Premium

05 May 2016
The Labour Party is convulsed by an internal crisis over anti-Semitism – whether it exists in the organisation, and if so, how widespread is it, and what to do about it. What has inflamed the controversy is the slow and rather off-hand reaction of the leadership.

Even the sky was blue, at least for some of the time. Such a sunny tribute to Leicester City Football Club seemed entirely appropriate as the population basked in the glory of the team’s triumph as champions of the Premier League this week.

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