Features

Across the universe Premium

22 June 2017 | by Guy Consolmagno
The month of June marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles’ album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – and also of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Visiting Chicago this month, on my way to buy the Sgt. Pepper reissue, I found myself driving past Fermilab.

Glimpses of Eden Premium

22 June 2017 | by Jonathan Tulloch
The hedges are at their most beautiful. Where they have been properly looked after and allowed to grow, they tumble through the countryside like shaggy, wonderfully unruly, irrepressible puppies.

The shock and horror of last week’s fire in a London tower block illustrate some of the defining features of the modern city, where anonymity and co-dependence exist side by side / By Ben Quash

The Church is often experienced as an unwelcome, even hostile, place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics. One of the most respected voices in the American Church suggests that an emotional and intellectual conversion is needed – on both sides / By James Martin

Next week, Pope Francis will create five new cardinals. The appointments he has made to the electoral college that will decide his successor reveal his vision for the future..

Is it no longer possible for a committed Christian to lead a political party? The resignation of Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron fails to answer the question one way or another / By Nick Spencer

A Catholic priest on the eastern coast of Canada has turned his parish into a powerhouse of renewal and mission. James Mallon explains the secret

Indonesia and Malaysia have been known as role models of Muslim-majority democracies that are moderate and pluralistic. But the politicisation of religion in recent years has led to religious minorities in both countries feeling increasingly threatened / By Benedict Rogers

The tug from below Premium

16 June 2017 | by Maurice Glasman
In an election that saw presumptions reversed and the good kicked out along with the bad, one political analyst regrets the loss of a number of champions of Catholic social teaching

Peter Stanford discovers how the high-profile Catholic commentator Cristina Odone is reinventing herself as the champion of an initiative to create a network of support for parents

Setting themselves apart Premium

15 June 2017 | by Christopher Jamison
A best-selling book entitled The Benedict Option raises fundamental issues about the possibility of living as a Christian in a world increasingly antipathetic to the Church’s values, says a former abbot, who casts doubt on author Rod Dreher’s proposed solution

With the Church in England and Wales celebrating Day for Life on 18 June, a campaigner on life issues considers the current debate about abortion and suggests a way forward...

Life gave me a life Premium

15 June 2017 | by Elena Curti
The Day for Life message stresses the importance of giving practical and emotional support to women who find themselves pregnant and alone, as Alison, 37, explains to Elena Curti

The tug from below Premium

15 June 2017 | by Maurice Glasman
In an election that saw presumptions reversed and the good kicked out along with the bad, one political analyst regrets the loss of a number of champions of Catholic social teaching / By Maurice Glasman

Over and out Premium

15 June 2017 | by Adrian Chiles
Sitting in my dad’s car, spying a cricket match sliding by … somebody was always, but always, running up to bowl

Glimpses of Eden Premium

15 June 2017 | by Jonathan Tulloch
It was still dark when I was woken. The song thrush, perched on the TV aerial, his favourite singing post, was belting out that celebrated, full-throated song.

Rebuffed, humiliated, almost powerless and barely clinging to office. But Mrs May’s problems are only just beginning

Some wines are expensive because their price is artificially inflated by factors extraneous to the product; others are deservedly expensive because of their matchless intrinsic quality and reputation; still others are costly for the quite practical reason that the production process is more labour-intensive than for other wines.

Glimpses of Eden Premium

08 June 2017 | by Jonathan Tulloch
We walked down the shadowed lane. Chiffchaffs called in the birch trees, cockerels crowed from the farms.

I doubt that any Prince of the Church would consider me his child, yet the truth is that in many ways I am irremediably so.

Ireland’s ecclesiastical capital, the ancient city of Armagh, stands sentinel-like above the surrounding borderlands. It is barely 10 miles to the nearest crossing point between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The morning after the London Bridge van and knife terrorist attack – the third such major incident in three months – Theresa May emerged from the door of Downing Street to say that things could not continue as they are, and that “enough is enough”.

Having celebrated a joyous confirmation Mass on the vigil of Pentecost I was awoken from dozing last Saturday evening by a phone call at 10.33 p.m. It was my Mum. “Where are you?” she asked. “At home,” I replied. “Why, what’s wrong” “We were worried that you might be in London,” she said. “There’s been another attack.”

It’s often said derisively of politicians that they need to get out more. But there is a strong case that in this election campaign, leading figures in the Conservative Party would have benefited from spending more nights at home.

It was a strange election campaign. When Theresa May called it, she seemed certain to cruise to a trouble-free landslide with Labour predicted to implode.

Think of Ernest Hemingway and you think of Spain, Africa, Cuba, Florida, 1920s Paris. But Italy? Well yes: Italy, after all, gave him his first encounter with war and death at the Austrian front, an experience he fictionalised as A Farewell to Arms, and again provided him with inspiration after the Second World War, when he wrote Across the River and into the Trees­.

From the Archive Premium

07 June 2017
If anything was needed to convince those living in Scotland that Westminster was out of touch with Scottish affairs, it was the reception of the first reading of Mr Russell Johnston’s Home Rule Bill late last year.

Breakfast means breakfast Premium

01 June 2017 | by Rose Prince
In 2016 there were four and a half million children attending state primary schools in the UK, a number that rises year upon year. The Conservatives say the free breakfast scheme they plan to introduce if they are re-elected next week will cost £60 million per year.

Glimpses of Eden Premium

01 June 2017 | by Jonathan Tulloch
Falling asleep under a parched sky, we woke to a world shimmering with wet. After so many dry months, it was raining at last. After breakfast I headed down the lane.

Listening to the Spirit: Francis' distinctive vision of the Church Premium

31 May 2017 | by Bradford E. Hinze
The number of Catholics who remember that Pope John XXIII opened the Second Vatican Council by praying for a new outpouring of the Spirit in the Church is dwindling.

This time next week Theresa May will head a government with an enhanced majority as former core supporters in key constituencies desert the Left once and for all / By Julia Langdon

It’s the thought that counts Premium

31 May 2017 | by Conor Pope
The Church’s ideas on social justice have been an inspiration for all the major parties, but how much will translate into substance? asks Conor Pope

Beyond the slogans Premium

31 May 2017 | by Philip Booth
When weighing which way to cast your ballot, consider the consciences of individual candidates as well as the party manifestos, says Philip Booth

Twenty-five years after his death, a monk who was a leading figure in the avant-garde art and poetry scene of the 1960s is being celebrated at a London gallery / By Laura Gascoigne

President Trump has chosen to take sides in the sectarian proxy wars between Sunni states and Iran that are killing hundreds of thousands, uprooting millions and are exporting terror overseas. A leading Middle East analyst takes a critical look at the emerging US policy in the region / By David Gardner

From the Archive Premium

31 May 2017
Pier Paolo Pasolini is a dedicated Marxist but so steeped in the traditions of the Church – and so impressed by the message of this gospel – that he has made what is certainly the best film on a scriptural subject and arguably the best religious film ever.

Fantasy writer Neil Gaiman tells the story of attending a gathering of great writers, scholars and thinkers, and wondering if he really belonged in that group. Next to him, another attendee also named Neil voiced similar doubts.

Glimpses of Eden Premium

25 May 2017 | by Jonathan Tulloch
We gazed at the finest view of England, which is how the cliff tops at North Yorkshire’s Sutton Bank are often described.

As the dust settled after this week’s horror, the true Manchester spirit – its rich humanity, its caring and sharing of pain – was plain for all to see, says a daughter of the city / By Joanna Moorhead

The party manifestos for the election on 8 June have now been presented - and they confirm that the electorate is offered a choice unlike any it has faced since 1945 / By Julia Langdon

In 2015, Labour narrowly won the fast-growing university city from the Lib Dems. With Brexit in the forefront of many of its voters’ minds, it is top of the list of Lib Dem target seats / By Elena Curti

Known affectionately as Don Goyo, the man chosen to be El Salvador’s first cardinal embodies the Church of the Poor that Pope Francis is determined to create. He moved out of the bishop’s residence several years ago into a ramshackle presbytery in a run-down part of the capital city / By Clare Dixon

Reluctant democrat Premium

24 May 2017 | by Ulla Gudmundson
A French aristocrat who argued for democracy underpinned by religion, he is most famous for his political dissection of the nascent United States. But if the liberal viscount, who died aged 53 in 1859, now were to return, what would he make of today’s politics either side of the Pond? / By Ulla Gudmundson

Hedgehog Premium

24 May 2017 | by Joy Williams
One day, a hermit brother about to leave for town went to a brother who lived nearby and who had continual compunction. He said to his fervent neighbour, “Please do me the kindness, brother, of taking care of my garden until my return.” The other replied, “Believe me, brother, I will do my best not to neglect it.” After the brother’s departure, he said to himself, Now take care of this garden.

In the great culture war between atheists and the faithful, it is all too easy to miss issues of common interest. One such issue – of the greatest urgency – is the contemporary assault upon truth, and the rise of the 'post-truth' era...

He might have lost his faith but, as the Liverpudlian creator of Cracker and The Street tells Peter Stanford, his stories reflect a deep and sympathetic fascination with Catholicism...

Opinion polls suggest that the Labour Party in Scotland will struggle to win back the Catholic voters it was once able to count on, but who in recent years have switched their allegiance to the SNP. Scotland’s leading historian, Sir Tom Devine, explains the causes of this 'great political earthquake'...

Away from fractious electioneering, some quiet wisdom is on offer from a contemplative order of religious sisters in Sussex / By Sue Gaisford Welcome to Patmos! To avoid confusion: this is not St John’s sun-drenched island, but a large, light, oak-framed building sitting in a remote valley full of wild flowers in rural Sussex. The Visitation Sisters (pictured), whose monastery is only a short walk away, chose the name because here the word of God is discussed and spread.

Mixed message Premium

18 May 2017 | by Paul Donovan
Why is the growing ethnic diversity of the Catholic Church in England and Wales not being reflected among those that are training for the priesthood? / By Paul Donovan Today, Catholics in the dioceses of Westminster, Brentwood and Southwark gather as they do every year in May to celebrate the Migrants Mass. The Church of St Antony of Padua, Forest Gate, where the service is being celebrated this year, will be buzzing with the music and costumes of the many races and cultures that make up the universal Catholic Church.

A large number of the migrants risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean are fleeing the small and secretive African country of Eritrea. Religious believers - and, in particular, Christians – are amongst its most oppressed citizens...

Eyebrows were raised when the prestigious Templeton Prize for progress in religion – previous winners included the Dalai Lama, Jean Vanier and Mother Teresa of Calcutta – was awarded to a relatively obscure American philosopher. A fellow philosopher explains the significance of his work / By John Haldane

Never a failure Premium

18 May 2017 | by Adrian Chiles
Sport is about winners. It says so in all the books, and in most discussions on the subject featuring pundits with nothing more profound to say.

They are two of the most captivating figures in global politics with bold, populist and radically differing visions about how to deal with the crises facing the world...

From its official opening 50 years ago, Liverpool’s Catholic cathedral may have divided its critics but it was quickly taken to the community’s heart. But as a Liverpudlian writer explains, the sense that it is ‘our’ cathedral is not something that should be taken for granted

Uncertainties posed by a possible hard Bexit and the upcoming general election are hardening positions in Stormont, making a new power-sharing agreement between Nationalists and Loyalists in the Northern Ireland Assembly increasingly intractable

Dementia Awareness Week begins tomorrow. Around the country, church initiatives large and small are helping people with this debilitating condition as well as their carers

Napoleon preferred lucky generals to good ones. France’s youngest head of state since Bonaparte will need all the good fortune he can get if he is to succeed with his reform plans

Seeing is believing Premium

11 May 2017 | by Chris Maunder
The experiences of child seers like Angela Volpini, the Italian girl who had visions of the Virgin Mary between the ages of seven and 16 – and went on to become an influential figure in the spirituality movement – belong to Europe’s past

The Juncker mentality Premium

11 May 2017 | by Ivor Roberts
Relations between the UK and the European Commission have reached a new low, and, as a retired diplomat explains, they are unlikely to improve so long as the President of the Commission remains involved in the discussions

Chile heads upmarket Premium

11 May 2017 | by N. O’Phile
Rigorous regulation has been quality wine production’s salvation. Sicilian wine’s seismic shift from nondescript blending fodder for the home market to high quality indigenous varieties exported around the world is ample testimony to the benefits of enforcement.

The visit of Pope Francis to a country fraught with political and religious tension was an audacious attempt to reach out in friendship to the Muslim world

In recent years, the voters of Keighley have always elected an MP of the winning party so, given the latest polls, Labour’s man faces an uphill battle. But there are factors in his favour

A leading commentator on French affairs reflects on the sudden and astonishing rise of the mysterious Monsieur Macron, who becomes the youngest president of the French republic since Napoleon Bonaparte this weekend...

Nuptial nosh Premium

04 May 2017 | by Rose Prince
A wedding deserves to be celebrated with a feast. And whether traditional or unconventional, elegant or riotous, minimal, theatrical, formal or relaxed … every wedding party should reflect the personalities of the couple. Yet in recent years, a wedding has become an excuse for a display of wealth.

One of America’s most talked-about contemporary poets, Patricia Lockwood, tells Peter Stanford about her unlikely childhood as the daughter of a traditionalist Catholic priest..

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