Features

The first cardinal of Burma shares the joys and challenges experienced leading the Church in the newly democratic country...

Pope Francis’ proposal to examine the possibility of women joining the diaconate took people by surprise. But, asks an expert, is it merely a device to fudge an age-old question?

The author of this week’s radical report on prison education talks to Peter Stanford about her ideas

Last week David Cameron was overheard describing Nigeria to the Queen as ‘fantastically corrupt’. A Nigerian businesswoman acknowledges the charge but argues against the hypocrisy that tolerates one rule for the rich West and another for the world’s poorer countries

Christianity in India and the challenges of Hindu extremism Premium

19 May 2016 | by Ulla Gudmundson
Christians and Muslims have been persecuted at the hands of Hindu nationalists associated with the ruling BJP party. But, according to one recent visitor, the tide could be turning

On balance, I’m out Premium

19 May 2016 | by Melanie McDonagh
Although the claims have ranged from threat of world war to the continuation of Hitler’s dream, the serious arguments have significantly raised public awareness. Our columnist has weighed them all, but the question of immigration and border control has finally swayed her

Grammar school Premium

19 May 2016 | by John Morrish
You may have missed the recent micro-controversy concerning Schools Minister Nick Gibb. On BBC Radio 4’s World at One he was asked a grammar question from the Government’s literacy tests for 11-year-olds – and he was caught out.

Where the Spirit moves Premium

12 May 2016 | by Megan Cornwell
This Sunday marks the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, a festival celebrated with particular fervour by Evangelical Churches. As Churches continue to explore each other’s traditions, Evangelicals are turning increasingly to Catholic spirituality to deepen their faith

The stalling of the release of an audit into the financial affairs of the Holy See is another sign of challenges to Pope Francis’ efforts to reorganise the Vatican

Last week’s election results produced mix cheer for the major political parties. However they are but a prelude to next month’s EU referendum

Screwed up Premium

12 May 2016 | by N. O’Phile
The undeniably convenient screw cap is rapidly replacing natural cork as the preferred closure for wine. Almost 70 per cent of all wine sold now has a screw cap. Though in France it is still hard to sell a screw-top wine, here in Great Britain it is getting harder to find natural cork in the mid-price range.

Activist whose protests against the Vietnam War landed him in jail, but who always found ways to channel his outrage into a form of creativity

Following the recent inflammatory comments from Naz Shah and Ken Livingstone, a former Labour Party minister points out that attitudes towards Israel are part of a wider problem across Europe

The verdict of unlawful killing by the inquest into the deaths of 96 football fans at Hillsborough was a watershed moment for everyone in Liverpool. But forgiveness is another matter

‘Truth will make us free’ Premium

05 May 2016
I watched the Hillsborough service, held at St George’s Hall in Liverpool after the inquest finished, on TV with a friend, writes Kevin T. Kelly. Mobility problems meant I was not able to attend.

On the eve of a two-week visit to the UK by Burma’s first cardinal, Richard Cockett talks to him about hopes for peace in the troubled country

Let’s eat in Premium

05 May 2016 | by Rose Prince
The Brexit campaigners say it’s simple: get out of Europe and the British can take charge of their own agriculture. We pay more in subsidies to the EU than we get out; take that money back and distribute it directly to our own farmers.

Don’t trust the Europhiles Premium

28 April 2016 | by Frank Field
In our continuing series presaging the crucial June vote, a former Labour Minister argues the case to leave the European Union more usually associated with Conservative Party ‘outers’

No place like home Premium

28 April 2016 | by Liz Dodd
Soaring rents and house prices are depriving young families of the chance of a stable home and destroying long-established communities as people are forced to move out of the city

Despite being a leading scientist studying data from the Philae space probe, Monica Grady tells Peter Stanford that she is very much grounded in her faith

Love and laughter Premium

28 April 2016 | by Thomas McDermott
An uneducated, almost certainly illiterate mystic played an important role in Dominican spirituality and was one of the first women made a Doctor of the Church

‘Grounded in reality’ Premium

28 April 2016 | by David Oakley
The Pope’s new apostolic exhortation on the family calls for seminaries to include a wider engagement with marriage and family life in the preparation of candidates for the priesthood. The rector of Oscott welcomes these ideas and considers ways in which they can be put into practice

More’s the pity Premium

28 April 2016 | by John Morrish
Stephen Fry, presenter of Fry’s English Delight, a BBC Radio 4 series about the English language, landed himself in trouble recently with his own choice of words. He was on a US chat show talking about “trigger warnings”.

The Joy of Love: In theory and practice Premium

21 April 2016 | by Gerard J. Hughe
The Pope’s recent apostolic exhortation emphasises the need for the Church to be sensitive in the way it applies its teaching on marriage and relationships. A moral theologian finds precedents for this approach in diverse areas – from money lending to homosexuality in animals

Pope Francis’ visit to Lesbos last week was not only a bold humanitarian gesture – it may prove to have been a significant moment in Catholic-Orthodox relations

The dilemmas of conscience and integrity that Shakespeare wrote about are familiar to Christians today, especially to those suffering in the Middle East and Pakistan

Those campaigning for Britain to leave the EU emphasise the loss of sovereignty that membership entails. But the fear of being part of a larger entity is a very English complaint...

Building a just peace Premium

21 April 2016 | by Philippa Hitchen
This month a conference in Rome urged the Church to revise its teaching on just-war theory – the ethical concept that sanctions the use of military force. Under pressure that has been growing for years, a doctrine first developed by Augustine of Hippo may be set to change

Polished perturbation Premium

21 April 2016 | by Guy Consolmagno
The possible existence of Planet Nine, first broached in January, has become a hot topic of speculation. Just last week, one tabloid announced that comets perturbed (pulled out of their orbits) by Planet Nine would soon lead to the demise of life on Earth! (Astronomer Phil Plait ran an amusing rebuttal in the New Scientist.) But is there actually a Planet Nine?

Obituary: Vin McMullen KSG

19 April 2016 | by John Mulholland
Vin McMullen, who died on Palm Sunday, was a truly remarkable man. From the most unpromising start in life he rose to become educator, author, voice for the voiceless and inspiration to many. He also made a crucial contribution to the development of Cafod at a turning point in its history...

Some analysts are saying that it changes nothing. Some are saying it changes everything. Can both views of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on family relationships be right?

This is a different kind of papal teaching. Francis focuses not on church doctrine in the abstract but on how it can be used to help the lives of ordinary believers

Unfinished business Premium

14 April 2016 | by Karen Kilby
The Pope’s latest exhortation is often refreshing in style and content. It will heal some wounds in the Church, but leave others, particularly those of gay people, to fester

New songs for the ‘Old Firm’ Premium

14 April 2016 | by Brian Morton
The once lethal rivalry between Rangers and Celtic football clubs will be recalled tomorrow at a cup tie in Glasgow. But with the success of new laws against sectarian behaviour, how seriously should we take the apparent tribalism between fans today?

The real me Premium

14 April 2016 | by John Morrish
If you were to have asked people a few years ago what sort of life they wanted, they might have said “successful” or “happy”. Today, they say they are seeking an “authentic” life. Some call this the “age of authenticity”. But what does “authentic” mean?

Last week a Northern Irish woman received a three-month suspended sentence after Belfast Crown Court found her guilty of procuring her own abortion. The decision was divisive, leaving pro-choice groups arguing against “antiquated” abortion laws and pro-life campaigners criticising the sentence as too lenient. Here four pro-life groups share their response to the ruling...

A Russian man who claimed that 'God does not exist' during a heated exchange on a social media website is in danger of becoming the first victim of a new law that hints at the rising influence of the Orthodox Church on the Kremlin...

With his document on the family, Pope Francis has let a chink of light into the Church’s window. No longer is it acceptable to 'throw stones' of doctrine at those struggling in their personal lives and things are not just about the rules. What used to be black and white are various shades of grey...

With the people Premium

07 April 2016
Catholic charities are playing an increasingly important role in the life of the Church and, with the decline of local government services, in society at large. This is a key conclusion of a new report by the Theos think tank, which outlines (below) its findings on how charities embody Catholic Social Teaching

Uneven odds Premium

07 April 2016 | by Sean Smith
Today, a staggering £500m will be staked on the Grand National. But behind the harmless notion of the occasional ‘flutter on the horses’ lurks a growing, and addictive, social problem

Stranger than fiction Premium

07 April 2016 | by Daniel O’Leary
Huge claims are being made for artificial intelligence and the development of robots that can think and feel. Some say it will transform our world for good, others for ill. But it should help us appreciate what it means to be human

England’s salvation Premium

07 April 2016 | by N. O’Phile
W.C. Field’s boast that he never drank anything stronger than gin before breakfast catches the faint air of colonial decadence that until recently hung round gin. No other spirit has spawned so many acts of parliament – eight in all. Little wonder its road to respectability has been long and rocky.

Francis' recent meeting with Bishop Bernard Fellay is the latest evidence of a Pope who places personal reconciliation ahead of doctrine, says Christopher Lamb

Obituary: Monsignor Bernard Doyle

31 March 2016 | by Rory Coonan
Long-serving priest and formidable negotiator for Catholic education in England in the twentieth century, honoured by the Pope, and who once led a prime minister through a picket line. His crowing achievement was the development of a new university in Liverpool...

Ahead of a major UN meeting about illegal narcotics, an expert in the field asks why drug-related deaths are up by 30 per cent in England but down by 20 per cent in Wales

Amid the devastation caused by last week’s bombs at Brussels airport, the chaplains sought to comfort victims, travellers and staff. Here they tell their stories

Arguments for and against Britain leaving the European Union have escalated in recent weeks, particularly among Conservative politicians. So why put them to a public vote at all?

A very broad church Premium

31 March 2016 | by Christina Rees
Immortalised in verse by T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding in Cambridgeshire is being developed as a centre for the study of Anglican spirituality. But just what lies at the heart of Anglicanism?

The reckoning of war Premium

31 March 2016 | by Ivor Roberts
Following the conviction last week of Radovan Karadzic for genocide and war crimes, a former British Ambassador to Yugoslavia recalls the Bosnian Serbian leader he knew. Western leaders, he says, should be more outspoken about similar persecutions – this time of Christians – elsewhere

Sweet nothings Premium

31 March 2016 | by Rose Prince
When I was a smoker, I recall that Budget Day always meant an increase in tax on tobacco. But I never stockpiled cigarettes to save money. Perhaps this indicates that no matter how much the price of a fix is increased, the addicted will always absorb it.

The path to Creation Premium

24 March 2016 | by Guy Consolmagno
It has been a month of anniversaries. Exactly 400 years ago Galileo first got into hot water with the Church over the Copernican system.

The mercy of God and the rising and dying of Christ are two of the central mysteries of the Christian faith. A theologian explores how one mystery might illuminate the other

When rebels took up arms to oppose British rule in Ireland 100 years ago, church leaders were caught between fixed church teaching and changing public opinion

The Scottish poet George Mackay Brown drew inspiration first and foremost from his native Orkney Islands. On the twentieth anniversary of his death, his friend and biographer recalls her meetings with him there and the long road that led to his conversion to Catholicism

In his meditation for Easter Sunday, Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, reflects on how the call to ‘Go out, again and again’ to spread the Good News brings holiness to us all

Nestling in the foothills of the Alps is a religious community which, with its charismatic founder, has played a progressive role in the life of the Church since the days of Vatican II

Pilgrimage to hidden gems Premium

23 March 2016 | by Michael Walsh
Some of Rome’s least known churches house a wealth of exquisite, curious and downright bizarre treasures – everything from medieval mosaics to subterranean pagan temples

The Catholic-raised star of the Easter film, Risen, talks to Peter Stanford about struggling with faith

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