- Pilgrimage to nowhere
There has long been an ambivalence about the man who was both the ultimate betrayer and the means by which God’s plan was fulfilled. The author of a new book visits the lonely place where the renegade apostle took his own life
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- Cushley says O’Brien damaged Church’s credibility as new allegations emerge
- German cardinals row over pastoral care of divorced and remarried
- Priests and bishops latest to say English missal translation needs overhaul
- Cardinal mocks FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s claim that FIFA is more influential than religion
- Sepp Blatter has scored an own goal taking on religion Jimmy Burns
- The new Missal has failed Bishop Donald Trautman
- Report into Cardinal O'Brien should be published Elena Curti
Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s resignation from the ‘rights and privileges’ of his office removes him from public life. He has admitted sexual impropriety but questions remain about his management of the diocese
In the light of the O’Brien ruling, Catholics in Austria are asking why the prolonged scandal of a former Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna had such a different outcome
There has long been an ambivalence about the man who was both the ultimate betrayer and the means by which God’s plan was fulfilled. The author of a new book visits the lonely place where the renegade apostle took his own life
Pope St John Paul II once said that Jews are the elder brothers of Christians but this was not always as well understood as it is now. Since this journal’s foundation 175 years ago, there has been a profound shift in relations between the faiths
There is a very simple rule of thumb in the Church: if it has been done before it can be done again, writes Michael Walsh. In all, 22 cardinals have resigned in a history which stretches back at least to the eighth century, during which there have been just over 4,000 men holding the office. And it is an office.
Joan Chittister, in her sixth reflection for Lent, looks behind the dark bitterness of Christ’s Passion to reveal its liberating beauty
There has been a week of events in Leicester to mark the reinterment of Richard III, the last Plantagenet monarch, whose remains were found during an archaeological dig in a car park. The find put the city on the map, but it did something more valuable too
The man in search of St Peter on BBC1 this Easter weekend ‘not as a detective but as an actor’ talks to Matthew Stadlen about his conversion and his Christian faith
To mark our anniversary, we have invited 50 Catholics to choose a person from the past 175 years whose life has been a personal inspiration to them and an example of their faith at its best
Last July I described the science from Nasa’s Dawn spacecraft orbiting asteroid Vesta. Even then, Dawn had already left Vesta’s orbit and started a 30-month journey to Ceres. It arrived into Ceres’ orbit this month.
As Ireland prepares to vote in a referendum on same-sex marriage, sharp differences are emerging within the Church about the tone of the debate. Fundamental issues of family structure, children’s welfare and the rights of gay people are at stake
For centuries, priests and bishops have been intimidated by Italy’s ruthless gangs. Now the Vatican and the state are combining forces to fight the menance of organised crime
The mafiosi in Rebibbia prison, on the periphery of Rome, are totally isolated in individual cells where they will probably remain until after they die, writes John Larsen. They are often middle-aged men. It would be safe to say that almost everyone is relieved that they remain right where they are – in the highest security blocks in the bowels of the prison.
Catholic worship has been transformed in the 175 years since this newspaper was first published in 1840. A leading liturgical scholar explains how both internal and external ideas influenced the changes
The Vatican’s permanent observer at the United Nations has set out the Church’s opposition to the death penalty. Here a moral theologian looks at his statement and the Church’s traditional teaching on the subject
The UK economy is said to be on the mend with unemployment falling and real wages rising again. But nearly a million people rely on food banks – and the numbers are growing
In the fifth of her reflections for Lent, Joan Chittister sees light on the path of telling the truth as you see it, even when you find it a lonely place
Pope Francis’ determination for the Church to go to peripheries was demonstrated in his naming of cardinals from far-flung countries. But he has more surprises in store which will stretch the boundaries of the faith even further
To mark our anniversary, we have invited 50 Catholics to choose a person from the past 175 years whose life has been a personal inspiration to them and an example of their faith at its best
The number of people applying for university has this year topped the record set before tuition fees were introduced for the first time. If fees do not put young people off, do the arguments against them still stand? Liz Dodd put this question to leading figures from Catholic universities
I remember one of my teachers, Margaret McCurley, with particular affection, writes Carmel McConnell. I was at the Sacred Heart Convent in Dagenham, East London, a lively school with pupils from around the world – families drawn by the Ford Motor Company works. I wasn’t the best behaved child, but my behaviour,
During the long summer holidays, boredom can kick in. A Catholic charity runs camps that keep children entertained and enrich their faith at the same time, as Isabel de Bertodano discovered
Reforms heralded as the biggest shake-up to special-needs education in the last 30 years came into effect in September last year. Six months on, Morag Foster asks whether they are living up to expectations
What are Catholic schools for? Sean Whittle, an academic and RE teacher, explains why they need to change the traditional means by which they understand the philosophy or theory of Catholic education
A multidisciplinary team of academics has been awarded £1.8 million by the Templeton Religion Trust to investigate public perceptions of science and religion. Project leader Fern Elsdon-Baker of Newman University,Birmingham, explains how they will spend the money
Theodore Hesburgh, who died on 25 February, is credited with transforming higher education in the United States. Thomas Kruczek, who studied at the University of Notre Dame during Hesburgh’s long presidency, pays tribute to his singular attainments
Better the Devil you know. Devil may care. Go to the Devil. The Devil is in the detail. The Devil finds work for idle hands. Give the Devil his due. What the Devil …? The Devil may be being written out of the Church of England’s christening service, but he still enjoys a busy life in our phrases and idioms.
Jorge Bergoglio’s election took the Vatican into uncharted territory. Continuing our series to mark the second anniversary of Francis’ election, a biographer traces his formative influences and examines how they will define his papacy
On Tuesday, voters in Israel will determine whether the country continues to be run by a right-leaning Government. But with electoral changes favouring his opponents, Benjamin Netanyahu is looking surprisingly vulnerable
The anti-abuse campaigner and Vatican panellist tells Elena Curti how he hopes to make the world a safer place for children
Since this paper first appeared in 1840, women have struggled to find new ways to attest their faith and mission
The founder of L’Arche, Jean Vanier, says he is less surprised at being awarded this year’s £1.1-million Templeton Prize than he is at the global success of his idea for a small community where the mentally disabled live side by side with those who assist them
In the fourth of her reflections for Lent, Joan Chittister reminds us that what matters is not how much success we achieve but how well we have loved.
When L’Arche Preston welcomes six new adults with learning disabilities into its new cluster of shared and single flats with live-in support this summer, the project will double the size of the community. As one of four new projects in development, the Loom will be part of the significant growth and change L’Arche UK has experienced in the last five years, writes Hazel Bradley.
A novel first published in 1997 charted the optimism felt by priests in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, followed by years of disillusionment. Here its author traces that journey and brings it up to date
Terrorist organisations in past decades have had clear aims and objectives. Not so Islamic State, whose apocalyptic vision of a final conflict with the West demands a robust response, says a former diplomat well versed in responding to militant organisations
To mark our anniversary, we have invited 50 Catholics to choose a person from the past 175 years whose life has been a personal inspiration to them and an example of their faith at its best
In the popular imagination, Sicily sums up everything Italian, and, since the Godfather films, most of it is negative.
This coming Friday marks the second anniversary of Francis’ election to the papacy. In the first of a series of articles reflecting on his influence, a senior Catholic commentator considers the Pope’s emphasis on evangelism, witness and mercy
Images of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory loom large in popular culture, but less so in Scripture. The human imagination bridges this gap and creates music, films, games and novels that help us to make sense of our lives
‘Jihadi John’ and the three London schoolgirls who travelled to Syria to join Islamic State were radicalised in Britain. Here, our writer describes his own experience of being lured to the extremist fringes of a religion
Cardinal Vincent Nichols says he is dismayed that immigration has become a defining issue of the general election campaign. But are Catholics making a moral choice if they seek to use their vote to limit the numbers coming to live in Britain?
The Archbishop of San Francisco is involved in a bitter row over his move to oblige staff in the diocese’s schools to adhere to the Church’s moral teaching in all they say and do. Critics accuse him of crushing dissent and intruding into people’s private lives
When this paper first appeared in 1840, the religious orders were considered to be in terminal decline. What followed was a remarkable story of reinvention and revival, although they once again face an uncertain future
Fear is in the air in Turkey’s Syrian Orthodox Church, many of whose members are fleeing their ancient homeland in the face of the Islamist threat. Annabel Shilson-Thomas went to meet them
Spending time at a Benedictine convent is a chance to live to a different rhythm for Katherine Backler
Male rights of passage marking the transition from childhood to maturity are deeply rooted in the biblical tradition. Brian Pinter explores a four-day retreat that sets boys on the path to a soul-centred adulthood
The painted monasteries of Moldavia were built to thank God for battles won to protect the people and lands of Romania in the fifteenth century. Chris Deliso visits these artistic gems and explores their history
A shepherd’s vision of the Virgin Mary in the Andalucian mountains led to the establishment of a commemorative sanctuary. Rachel Collingwood went to the town of Cazalla to watch the festival held every August
Three days into my first visit to the United Arab Emirates, I was standing near a date market with my husband, who was fidgeting with a vending machine, trying to buy a bottle of water. He hadn’t the right coins for the machine. Suddenly a car pulled up onto the kerb, and out of it jumped a woman, offering coins. My husband demurred. “Oh no, I couldn’t possibly …”
On Tuesday, the bishops of England and Wales published a letter to Catholics setting out issues to consider ahead of this year’s general election. It is a far cry from the bold 52-page document produced on the same subject last week by the Church of England
It was ranked alongside Russia, India and China as an emerging global economic powerhouse but now the pillaging of Brazil’s natural resources, corruption at the highest levels and a crippling drought is threatening that status
The 14 Stations of the Cross found on the walls of almost every Catholic church allow us to relive Christ’s final journey wherever we are. The former master of the Dominican Order considers the beauty and significance of this ancient devotion
The publication of Paul VI’s encyclical banning the use of artificial birth control was a pivotal moment in this journal’s history. The stand taken against it by the then editor has reverberated ever since
In the second of her reflections for Lent, Joan Chittister is inspired by the dramatic moment when Christ’s followers saw him clearly for the first time
One of the few writers still willing to explore moral and spiritual questions in fiction talks to Peter Stanford about the religious novel and about his latest work, published this month
African women farmers will benefit from the Lenten Appeal launched by Scotland’s Catholic aid agency, Sciaf. The Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh has just returned from Malawi where he has seen the material and spiritual benefits of the campaign at first hand
My travels this week started in Boston, hit by a record number of massive snowstorms this winter; yet another blizzard trapped me inside the convention hotel all weekend.
The recent consistory in Rome, which saw Pope Francis create 15 new cardinal-electors from every corner of the world, marked another significant moment in his reform of the Church. But it also showed that the change he has in mind goes beyond a shake-up of the Curia
As Catholics celebrate the appointment of Myanmar’s first cardinal, religious violence in the country formerly known as Burma is being fanned for political gain by a desperate government ahead of a general election later this year
Plans are afoot to merge more than 70 parishes in the St Andrews and Edinburgh diocese. There is serious concern among some priests at the ‘top-down’ nature of the proposals
The then assistant editor recalls how this paper covered one of the defining moments in the history of the Church since it was first published in 1840 – the Second Vatican Council
This week, the Duchess of Cambridge pledged support for the UK’s first Children’s Mental Health Week. Catholic schools are often on the front line of this rising tide of depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide
Anthropologists routinely claim that their work has fatally discredited Christianity, along with all other religious belief. Yet many in the field have been Catholics. An academic suggests a solution to this apparent contradiction
The theme of this year’s reflections for Lent by Joan Chittister is “Journey into Light”. She begins by reminding us that Lent is not a place of darkness and abandonment, but a step on the way towards light
There is, to adapt Jerry Lee Lewis, a whole lot of “shaming” going on. In recent months I have spotted “parent-shaming”, “single-shaming”, fat-shaming”, “skinny-shaming” and even “dog-shaming”. And that is to say nothing of the phrase with which it all began: “slut-shaming”.
In a week that saw hopes rise for an end to the conflict in Ukraine following intense Franco-German shuttle diplomacy, a former British ambassador to Kiev argues that the West must stay united in support of Russia’s embattled neighbour
There has traditionally been strong support among Catholics for Labour but the party is in danger of neglecting this important constituency. Remarks critical of nuns as teachers by Labour’s education spokesman could be a sign of the times
Sanctions for bishops who fail to act against abusive priests were the most important recommendation urged last week by the Pope’s commission for child protection. Abuse survivors on the commission want fast action
Last week the Catholic moral theologian Jack Mahoney backed the decision of MPs to permit a procedure that will allow babies to be created using DNA from three people in order to screen out genetic diseases. The Church, and many others, oppose the move
Children who are abused are often too frightened to complain about what has happened. Others who do speak out are not believed. This was not the experience of a senior Religious who is a survivor of childhood abuse. Here he relates his experience and warns against the demonisation of perpetrators.
The Church of England’s decision to admit women bishops appears an insoluble block on the road to church unity. But in the 175 years since this paper first appeared, the door to union has closed several times, only to open again
The depravity of Islamic State has prompted some to recall Pope Benedict’s controversial Regensburg lecture as a prophetic wake-up call. Its real message was very different, and is of even greater relevance today
Messages that lovers will exchange this weekend will express the depth of their devotion. The words we use to describe God’s love must also come straight from the heart
To mark our anniversary, we have invited 50 Catholics to choose the person from the past 175 years whose life has been a personal inspiration to them and an example of their faith at its best
Dioceses across the country are scrambling to provide enough school places to cope with the huge demand. Jeremy Sutcliffe looks at why birth rates have increased and the different ways in which the extra numbers are being accommodated
I first became aware of Eileen Stamper in the hall of our direct-grant school in the north-west of England, with its large olive plaques of Oxbridge exhibitioners, writes Margaret Archer.
Tens of thousands of children across the UK are home schooled. Brian Morton gives a personal account of the dilemmas and anxieties facing parents who choose this option
As the number of monastic head teachers dwindles and questions continue to be raised over the need for independent schools, James Whitehead, the first lay head at Downside, explains why Benedictine schools still flourish in today’s world
Trainee teachers at an American Catholic university are given the chance to hone their skills in poorer areas of the United States, or further afield, which can take them well outside their comfort zones, as three of them recount
Pupils in Middlesbrough have been sleeping rough under cardboard to experience homelessness for themselves, as Paul Wilkinson found out when he spoke to the adults and children involved
The quality of music teaching in primary schools is patchy, writes Isabel de Bertodano, but two programmes in Liverpool are now showing the rest how it should be done
Drawing a cork is a commitment and a once-opened bottle provokes a dilemma, even for the moderate wine bibbers who read (and write) this column. What if you want to drink no more than a glass and are unlikely to be drinking the next day? A half-full bottle, especially if half-decent, is not going to be up to it two days later.
Greek Catholics, along with other Christian minorities in their beleaguered country, are hoping to fare better under the new Government. In particular, they welcome steps to trim the sails of the established Orthodox Church
MPs voted on Tuesday to permit a procedure that will allow babies to be created with DNA from three people, in an attempt to screen out genetic diseases. The Church opposes the move
In the nineteenth century, the rapid growth of religious sisters in England and Wales was chronicled in this publication, as was the decline in the latter part of the twentieth century and beyond. But despite the rise and fall, one academic finds reasons to be hopeful about their future
Just 15 years after emerging from the grip of military dictators, the prospect of being led by a former general appears increasingly attractive to the voters of Africa’s most populous nation as they reel from reports of yet more atrocities committed by Islamic separatists
The BBC has cut the post of commissioning editor for religious television programmes in order to save money. Critics of the move fear it will accelerate the decline in the quality and quantity of faith-related coverage
Church bells rang out in San Salvador this week to celebrate the formal declaration by Pope Francis that Archbishop Oscar Romero died as a martyr. The move paves the way for his beatification this year and his declaration as a saint soon after
To mark our anniversary, we have invited 50 Catholics to choose the person from the past 175 years whose life has been a personal inspiration to them and an example of their faith at its best
IT IS A GIVEN that for a generation, British dairy farmers have produced milk at a near or complete loss; that is, they are paid for their milk less than it costs to produce.
The television version of Hilary Mantel’s novel Wolf Hall is the latest account to challenge St Thomas More’s reputation as a courageous defender of the rights of conscience. Was he, in truth, a liberal icon, a religious fanatic or something in between?
The academic and broadcaster Mona Siddiqui talks to Joanna Moorhead about growing up with Yorkshire Britishness and her family’s Islamic traditions
Celebrating the birth of the author of The Seven Storey Mountain, a Canadian biographer and scholar examines the lasting significance of a writer steeped in the spiritual and intellectual richness of 1960s Catholicism
In the 175 years since this paper first appeared, the Church in England and Wales has been continuously refreshed and renewed by the arrival of Catholics from overseas – from Ireland, the Commonwealth, Europe and the wider world
Mary Ellen Russell’s job changed last week. The executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference (MCC) still works at the same office in Annapolis, the state capital. She has the same job title and her day-to-day routine will be little different.
To mark our anniversary, we have invited 50 Catholics to choose the person from the past 175 years whose life has been a personal inspiration to them and an example of their faith at its best
What exactly is “satire”? And is it supposed to be funny? In origin, it certainly was not. The word “satire” is first recorded in Britain in Alexander Barclay’s The Shyp of Folys of the World, a 1509 translation of Sebastian Brant’s Das Narrenschyff into English verse. The German work, published in 1494, was a fierce attack, in 112 verse chapters, on the evils of the day, especially in the Church.
While most polls show overwhelming support for Pope Francis among Catholics and non-Catholics, in the United States there is a small but determined group that is highly critical of him. The Pope’s encyclical on the environment, which is expected soon, is likely to deepen their rancour
After two terms as the first full-time president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy retired from front-line politics late last year. In a rare interview, he makes a case for a united Europe for security, peace and prosperity
Elaborate preparations to mark the seventieth anniversary on Tuesday of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau highlight how Poland has begun to acknowledge its own anti-Semitic past and to recognise that it has a Jewish question, too
As mainstream Muslim leaders seek to distance Islam from the ‘deviancy’ of the jihadist attacks in Paris, a theologian argues that in an increasingly secular world all religions need to harness reason to belief
America’s national parks owe their existence to John Muir, a conservationist whose ideas about faith and the natural world resonate now more than ever
Of all the contributions made by Catholics to the cultural life of Britain and Ireland in the 175 years since this paper first appeared, a historian suggests that the work of architects such as Pugin and Bentley is among the most striking
As the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity draws to a close, the Archbishop of Birmingham suggests that the provisions which allow Christians not in communion with the Catholic Church to receive the sacraments deserve to be used more effectively
Francis’ visit to Asia’s most populous Catholic country was always going to be on a grand scale. Yet his direct style made Filipinos feel he was speaking to them personally
A Columban missionary has drawn attention to the scandal of the Philippines’ street children
A pilgrimage is often seen as a metaphor for life’s journey, none more so than the trek along the Way of St James to Santiago de Compostela. Arrival at the shrine cheers the heart and gives a glimpse of Heaven
Every year, the University of Arizona’s College of Sciences puts on a public lecture series; this year’s theme is “Life in the Universe”. Given my ability to deliver good entertainment (my ancestors were in vaudeville), I have been asked to present the opening lecture, “What is life?”
Amid a worldwide outpouring of support, millions of defiant French citizens took to the streets last Sunday to protest at the murders by Islamic militants in Paris. It was an assertion of common values held by people of all races and creeds
The cover of the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo features a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad. It has been widely reproduced but such grand gestures put at risk the task of building alliances to achieve real change for the victims of terror
Muslims took an active part in Sunday’s Paris demonstration and many have spoken out to condemn the terrorist murders. But they also complain of widespread discrimination and are fearful of a backlash
Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel, about a man who converts to Islam, was published on the very day of the Charlie Hebdo murders. Some believe the novel holds an uncomfortable lesson for contemporary Catholics
Former Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell, who now heads a government initiative on well-being, tells Peter Stanford how religious faith is a valuable guide to fulfilment
In the 175 years since this paper was first published, Catholic writers have helped shape the literary canon. They include Cardinal Newman, Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene and a busy Birmingham parish priest
Tributes have flowed in from around the world following the untimely death of a lecturer and chaplain at the University of Roehampton in London
It is at this time of year that people like to go “on a diet”. By which they mean a different diet, because, unless they are dead, they are on a diet already.
The 20 new cardinals named by Pope Francis last Sunday vividly illustrate his vision for the future. Gone is the image of a Eurocentric Church with its expectations of automatic preferment. A new and younger world is about to be heard
In an overwhelmingly Catholic country where more than half the population consider themselves to be living in poverty, the presence of Pope Francis offers great hope. But can the country’s conservative hierarchy change?
Exactly 100 years ago, The Tablet reproduced a pastoral letter by the Belgian primate, Cardinal Mercier, that was a rallying call to Belgians not to be cowed by the German occupiers. The author of a forthcoming biography of Mercier considers whether he deserves to be regarded as a war hero
Plundering religious and cultural artefacts is now part of the strategy of Islamic State. The aim is to boost their funds and demoralise the local population
Results from joint courses run by an interfaith community set up on a once barren hilltop in central Israel for Jewish and Arab students could teach their elders a thing or two about peace
Last week, Christopher M. Bellitto argued for a middle way between tradition and progress ahead of the next Synod on the Family in October. But this is neither possible nor desirable, says a distinguished Irish theologian
The life of Elvis Presley is a tragic rags-to-riches story. The singer, who would have been 80 this week, delighted millions with his music but his wealth did not bring fulfilment. He remained a spiritual seeker to the end
The assisted dying campaigner Debbie Purdy died in a hospice in Bradford before Christmas. Her life and death, which comes amid escalating pressure on the Government to legalise assisted dying, has raised wider questions about poor access to palliative care and to hospices
To mark our anniversary, we have invited 50 Catholics to choose the person from the past 175 years whose life has been a personal inspiration to them and an example of their faith at its best.
Alcohol and religious orders have enjoyed a long and productive association. Think of Carthusians and Chartreuse, Benedictines and Benedictine (as well as the less reputable tonic wine), Trappists and strong, dark beer. We owe the distillation of spirits to inquisitive (and doubtless thirsty) Religious who learned it from Moorish sources.
2015 marks the 175th anniversary of The Tablet, which has stayed the course to become one of the few publications in Britain to be in print continuously since 1840. And, as its current editor shows, it has always been proud of its Catholic identity
The first conclave to elect a pope covered by The Tablet was in 1846, after the death of Gregory XVI. Papabili were mentioned, though Mastai-Ferretti, who was to become Pius IX, was not among them. Alas its record for picking future popes scarcely improved over the following 11 elections
A psychological study of the impact of the Boxing Day tsunami, which swept across the Indian Ocean 10 years ago, suggests that the mental health of survivors may be helped by supporting the work of temples, churches and mosques
Big decisions lie ahead for Britain with a general election and the verdict on the Iraq war. Abroad, the situation in Ukraine and Islamic State continue to threaten global stability. And there are significant anniversaries to mark. Here our expert commentators review the prospects ahead
Publishing today is relatively easy, but, as The Tablet’s production editor explains, printing the journal in 1840 was a laborious process
It is clear that the Pope is a reformer. But he cannot be easily categorised as either a progressive or a conservative. A theologian argues that the best way of understanding him might be to look at the work of the great French theologian Yves Congar, who developed principles that steer between the extremes of tradition and progress as well as between conservation and innovation
A Latin American Pope has been instrumental in making peace in the 50-year conflict between the US and Cuba. The announcement that diplomatic relations will resume in the New Year shows the unrivalled reach of Vatican diplomacy
Britain’s ambassador to the Holy See outlines the Vatican’s unique perspective on the international stage
To mark our anniversary, we have invited 50 Catholics to choose the person from the last 175 years whose life has been a personal inspiration to them and an example of their faith at its best.
Let us hope that Christmas has passed without too many cases of food poisoning. Poultry has been getting a bad press of late. Levels of pathogens, microbes that cause infection, appear to be out of control on raw chicken.
In August this year, The Tablet’s editor embarked on a break from the paper to undertake a period of study, but scarcely had her sabbatical started than her plans were overtaken by a shocking diagnosis
As a headmaster, Dom Philip Jebb inspired the loyalty and respect of his pupils but they also sensed that he was possessed of unusual gifts – gifts that kept him one step ahead
Our parks and gardens are full of much-loved flowers from China. We owe their presence to a group of men who devoted their lives, and sometimes sacrificed them, to saving souls but also delighted in discovering a wealth of ornamental plants
Private Bert Hattersley was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. For his nephew, the letters and primitive diary found in the dugout where Bert spent his last night are a poignant memorial of the brief lives snuffed out by the First World War
With thanks to the anonymous writer of “The Cherry Tree Carol”
There is no stopping coinages: new words and phrases appear with dazzling regularity. So how have you fared this year when it comes to keeping abreast of the changing English language? Our annual quiz will tell you whether you’re wordly wise.
Hounded out of their homes by Islamist violence, Iraqi Christians face what many fear may be their final festive season in the land of their fathers as many prepare for exile
On 16 December, the Pakistani Taliban murdered 141 people – 132 of them schoolchildren, many sitting examinations, others simply attending classes. A former British diplomat explains the tensions in the region that led to one of the most horrific terrorist atrocities of recent years
Liverpool’s new archbishop tells Christopher Lamb about his plans for the diocese, his views about the synod and his run-ins with Rome
The world of the Brothers Grimm is a deeply moral one: wrongdoers get their just deserts, promises must be kept and the underdog usually triumphs in the end. That is why their stories are perfect for the Christmas season
At a time when flaws in the governance of the Church have been thrown into sharp relief, even by the Pope himself, a Jesuit and Scripture scholar argues that contemplating the new-born Christ Child offers the best lesson in exercising authority
Angels so prevalent in Christmas cards and decorations are messengers from a God who can often seem remote. As Margaret Atkins reminds us in her final reflection, it was an angelic messenger that brought news which closed the gap between God and his Creation for ever
The city of Brighton and Hove has been called the most godless in Britain, yet it has a demonstrable thirst for spirituality. Its churches are thriving and it is home to an original and beautiful Advent event that draws visitors from far and wide
At this time of year, people come together to sing songs rooted in Britain’s rich vernacular tradition, and are as at home in the local pub or village hall as they are in church
Irish playwright Samuel Beckett, who died on 22 December 25 years ago, was sometimes contemptuous of those who believe but, as one admirer of the author argues, Beckett consistently explored the idea of faith in his work
It has been a busy month for space probes. The Japanese have launched Hayabusa 2 to go to an asteroid and come back with a sample, larger than the few grains of dust that the first Hayabusa returned. Nasa put its Orion capsule into orbit, its first new spacecraft capable of carrying humans in 30 years; some day it may take astronauts back to the Moon.
Although the latest UN Climate Change Conference in Lima this week has been working towards an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a church-supported campaign that urges industry to reject fossil fuels is unrealistic, according to a senior energy engineer
Bishops and police chiefs around the world gathered in London last weekend for a second meeting of the Santa Marta Group, which marks a new era of cooperation between the Church and the statutory authorities to combat human trafficking
In a region once rich in Christian tradition, many churches fear for their very existence as sectarian strife rages in countries such as Iraq and Syria. But there is one interfaith initiative between Muslims, Copts, Catholics and Anglicans that is bucking the trend for religious hatred
Jeb Bush is emerging as a serious contender for the Republican nomination in the 2016 American presidential election. How will his Catholicism, his rapport with Hispanic voters and his moderate views on immigration and education play with the party’s conservative majority?
On Tuesday, the long-awaited Vatican report on women’s religious life in the US is to be released. It follows a three-year apostolic visitation led by a senior American sister who here describes how she set about the task and her hopes for its conclusions
There is hope that the cause for beatification of the social activist Dorothy Day will receive a boost with Pope Francis’ visit to the US next year. He has been presented with copies of her writings and her Archdiocese of New York has hired a lay theologian to work on the project
A stint in a London classroom provoked a theologian and journalist to wonder if the way religion is taught in schools leads children to believe that it is irrelevant to their lives, and consequently whether Britain should follow the American approach and leave it out altogether
John the Baptist is seen as having the singular purpose of pointing people, such as his own followers in this week’s reading of the Gospel, towards Jesus. But, in the third of her seasonal reflections, Margaret Atkins looks beyond the evangelists at the man and his mission
Christmas is known as the Feast of Light because it celebrates the light in all people. As Christians prepare to mark Christ’s birth, they can find ways to become more aware of God’s presence
Can there ever have been a more cheering unintended consequence than the accidental invention of champagne? The world’s preferred wine of celebration came about through a seventeenth-century Benedictine monk’s failed efforts to improve local wine by – wait for it - removing the bubbles.
On a visit to a centre for refugees and asylum seekers in Bristol,it struck a reporter that she had discovered the kind of project that would be close to Pope Francis’ heart and his wish to see ‘a poor Church for the poor’
Our Christmas foods are admired from afar, but for many it is a case of looking not touching. An Emirati woman once told me how, as a child, she had enjoyed Christmas pudding, but then her mother had stopped ordering them from Harrods when she discovered that the British treats contain alcohol.
It was an historic moment for the Catholic and Orthodox Churches when, against a backdrop of the suffering of Christians in Syria and Iraq, Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew recognised the urgent need to speak with one voice
The man who will welcome Pope Francis to the US next year tells Austen Ivereigh that his reputation as one of America’s culture warriors is wide of the mark
Atheists and rationalists often like to call themselves ‘humanists’. But a report published this week argues that the concept is rooted in Christianity and, deprived of its roots, it cannot thrive
There are few front-line politicians whose faith is so closely linked to their public profile as the former Labour Cabinet minister Jim Murphy, who is bidding to become the first Catholic to lead one of four main political parties north of the border
The Feast of St Nicholas is an appropriate moment to think about the exchange of gifts. In the second of her seasonal reflections, Margaret Atkins examines different ways in which the act of giving is understood, and how medieval Christianity was seen as a “bleeding heart”
Exactly 100 years ago, Britain re-established formal diplomatic relations with the Holy See for the first time since the Reformation. The move benefited both sides
Preparations are continuing for Pope Francis’ two-day visit to Sri Lanka in January despite fears that the country’s president is using the trip for propaganda purposes as he stands for re-election
Interventions by Prince Charles in support of persecuted Christians are, according to a senior Anglican adviser who knows his interfaith work well, examples of a commitment to religious freedom born out of his role as heir to the throne
On 3 December 1984 clouds of poisonous gas from a pesticide factory in India killed thousands. A nun who helped the injured recalls that time in conversation with Andrew Johnson
As the first Jesuit Pope, Francis now seems to enjoy cordial relations with his confrères in Rome. But this was not always so. After many interviews with the order in Argentina, a new papal biographer believes he has uncovered the story behind the tensions
This week’s appointment of a new head of the Congregation for Divine Worship will reopen the debate about how the Church makes decisions on the liturgy. Some want to start by revoking the Vatican document that led to the new Missal
People in the West have become used to instant gratification, but the Christian life demands patience and fortitude. In the first of her seasonal reflections, Margaret Atkins looks at this time of waiting and how we can best prepare for it
“THERE’S NO nice way of saying this,” they say – and then they try to find one. Euphemisms are an essential part of losing your job, and none of them helps a bit. There are two ways employment comes to an end: on the one hand, the people go and the jobs disappear with them; on the other, the people go and are promptly replaced by other people.
There are signs that Turkey’s President Erdogan is seeking to appease Western critics with limited gestures to his country’s persecuted Christian minorities. Arriving in Ankara this week, Pope Francis will be able to judge the results for himself
Popular notions of hard-working families forking out for benefit scroungers are well wide of the mark, argues the author of a new book, which shows that virtually everyone at some point in their lives needs government support
Developments in our understanding of how the human mind works pose challenges to scientists and theologians about the role of religion and spirituality in our lives
The United States is being criticised for its treatment of tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors arriving in the country from Central America, 25 years after it and other governments worldwide adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child
Mary and her newborn baby are usually pictured as radiant beings far from the reality of a frightened young woman giving birth in difficult circumstances. Yet as the start of the Church’s year approaches, focusing on the humanity of mother and child makes plain God’s desire for us all
A few minutes’ walk from Manger Square in Bethlehem is an underground chapel that for nearly 2,000 years has been the site of a sanctuary, said to contain rock made miraculous through the spilling of the Virgin Mary’s milk on it. Louise Cowley investigates
For many pilgrims, Portugal means Fátima, but 80 miles down the coast is a series of religious festivals uniting the land and the ocean, and indulging the spirit in an inclusive feast of music and colour, as Edna Pottersman found out when she went to Setúbal
More than 1,000 years of Western and Eastern Christian traditions have come together in a small monastery on the Mediterranean island of Crete to create a rich fusion of religious art and artefacts that are testament to a long and turbulent history, as Chris Deliso explains
A few years before he was to change the face of Christian Europe forever, a German Augustinian friar crossed the continent to plead with the Pope for his order’s independence from Rome. Half a millennium later, Nigel Willmott retraced his journey
The search for a retreat house led Anthony Weaver to the easternmost point of the Italian mainland, where he found a history of siege and martyrdom that has poignant lessons for religious tolerance today
THE PHILAE LANDER from the Rosetta spacecraft of the European Space Agency (Esa) has arrived – and bounced – on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, generating a big splash of planetary science media coverage.
A mini reshuffle has led to the appointment of an English prelate to a senior post within the Secretariat of State. The move reflects a growing trend
This week, Catholic aid agency Cafod announced it will cut around 50 jobs in an effort to save £3m. The move, part of the charity’s long-term strategic review involving its operations around the world, poses major challenges for the organisation and director Chris Bain
The result of next Thursday’s Rochester by-election and the possibility of a second Ukip victory will show the impact of the party’s campaign focus on the issue of immigration. But hostility to ‘newcomers’ is nothing new in politics, and is perpetuated by a series of lies and statistics
Chicago’s new archbishop has been welcomed as a prelate who is cut from the same cloth as Pope Francis. Ahead of his installation next week, he talked to Michael Sean Winters about how he puts real people at the heart of his ministry
Six Jesuit priests were murdered in El Salvador 25 years ago. But what happened to the Catholic university where they taught? One of their friends, who went on to become its vice rector, tells the remarkable story of its survival and rebirth
Moves by Lord Falconer and his supporters in the House of Lords to allow terminally ill people to ask doctors to help them kill themselves came closer to being made law last week, if the press is to be believed. But all is not what it seems, as a prominent Catholic crossbencher explains
In all his work, Gerard (“Gerry”) W. Hughes SJ, who has died at the age of 90, tried to heal what he saw as the damaging “split” in our spirituality. “God is in every human being, in every movement of our devious minds and hearts and in every human tragedy, drawing us out of death into life.”
It’s been a busy few weeks for “trolls”. But then it always is. They’ve been hounding campaigners and rape victims; and they’ve been threatened with a clampdown by the Government. No wonder they have so little time to sit under a bridge and intimidate billy goats.
Soon there will be so few priests in Ireland to say Mass that the very existence of the Church will be in question. The bishops have no Plan B but laypeople are thinking more creatively, according to a founder of the Association of Catholic Priests
The meaning of the poppy has been as divisive as it has been comforting. Its origins as the symbol of remembrance lie in a poem by a military doctor whose feelings about war were complex
Most conscientious objectors were drafted into non-combatant roles in the army but some believed their religious principles forbade even that. Facing torture and death, one group of so-called absolutists helped enshrine through their bravery the right to conscientious objection in law
Recent high-profile appointments suggest that male dominance in the study and teaching of theology may be coming to an end. But special challenges and dilemmas remain
Visions of suffering sinners feature in the spiritual diaries of two nineteenth-century mystics. But, as the translator of one of them discovered, they are also eloquent on the theme of Christ’s redeeming love
The number of Jews emigrating from France to Israel has virtually doubled in the last year. Those who are leaving cite rising anti-Semitism and fears that a generation of French Muslims is being radicalised
The Catholic aid agency Cafod has helped 145,000 people rebuild their lives after a devastating typhoon hit the Philippines a year ago. But now, the agency’s director says, the focus must be on minimising the risk of extreme weather, and that means addressing climate change
This weekend marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the collapse of the Iron Curtain. Today, the optimism that event engendered seems wildly misplaced given the conflicts facing many parts of the world, not least the West’s struggle against militant Islam
Ask anyone to name an Italian wine and Chianti will almost certainly be at the top of their list. Not only is it the best- known, but Chianti has been one of the main driving forces behind the exponential growth in Italian wine quality.
No sooner had Canada joined the American-led air offensive against Islamic State in Iraq than it was targeted in two separate terrorist attacks. Now it faces questions familiar to countries like Britain, long on the front line in the battle against jihadists
Following the Pope’s urging of the Synod Fathers to be open to the promptings of the Spirit, a leading theologian considers how Francis’ theology guided its proceedings
A recent conference explored how the idea of Purgatory could work in contemporary psychotherapy. Much common ground was found, particularly in relation to pride, hope and love
The broadcaster and Church of England vicar tells Abigail Frymann Rouch about his journey from drugs, pop stardom, gay flings and ‘existential despair’ to faith in God
It is hoped that a dozen multinational companies will sign up to a list of key principles as part of an initiative begun by Cardinal Vincent Nichols. Speakers at this week’s Blueprint for Better Business conference issued a call to action aimed at restoring public trust
This is the season when the death of a loved one is felt all the more keenly but the sense of loss is tempered by precious memories that hint at immortality
There will be legions of campaigners cheering Tesco’s woes. It turns out that they were right, and shoppers would abandon the retailing giant. Every analyst studying the current climate in supermarket retailing says the same about the trend
Pope Francis wanted frankness and openness and that is what he got. But there is also the sense that the real debate in the Church about marriage and families is only just starting
Tablet commentator Clifford Longley argued that the time for Catholic Social Teaching has come. Church leaders, MPs and even the Governor of the Bank of England, seem to agree. But, as one observer warns, resistance to change is huge
The best-selling Jesuit who left his mark on a generation of Catholics tells Brendan Walsh of the inspiration for his latest book
In France, Catholics were out in force in demonstrations earlier this month against same-sex marriage and IVF for gay couples. However, church attendance has declined sharply, and it is clear that Catholicism in the country has profoundly changed
When free lunches were introduced for all children between the ages of four and seven, many predicted disaster. However, as Jeremy Sutcliffe found, the experiment has gone surprisingly smoothly
I was not especially interested in history when I entered the sixth form at St Bede’s College, Manchester, in 1960, writes Ian Kershaw. For A level I chose Latin alongside French and settled on history to make up my third subject.
When children experience bereavement school staff can play a major role in helping them to come to terms with their loss, as Nancy Walbank explains
What does it take to make a great head teacher? Martin Tissot explains to Joanna Moorhead that solving bad behaviour is the key to success
A Catholic college in Kansas City is working to ensure the most marginalised can get qualifications. Michael Sean Winters talks to the new president of Donnelly College about Catholic identity and a unique approach to education
A city school in a deprived area meets challenges with imagination and dynamism
The ruins of St Peter’s Seminary, Cardross, a Glaswegian gem of modernist architecture, feature in a showcase of Scottish architecture currently being shown at the Venice Architecture Biennale.
I HAD BEEN invited to Australia to give a science-and-religion talk to an association of Catholic professionals, but by the time I arrived in Brisbane my schedule had expanded into seven presentations, from school groups to university colloquia. Three of those groups asked to hear about Galileo.
This week produced the clearest evidence yet that the Synod Fathers are sharply divided between those who are supporting Pope Francis in his efforts to present a more pastoral vision of the Church and those determined first and foremost to emphasise its moral teaching
At the end of a tumultuous week, we asked an international panel of six Catholics – with a wide range of backgrounds, experience and opinions – to reflect on some of the issues and disagreements that have emerged in Rome
Last year, Pope Francis suggested that half of all marriages are invalid. His reasoning was that Catholics often fail truly to grasp what marriage is, and it is in this context that the Synod Fathers are contemplating easier access to annulments
Political leaders have pledged to bring down the ‘peace walls’ dividing Catholics and Protestants that still scar Belfast, but it is a slow process and some are still fearful of the prospect
Fourteen years ago, the UN Security Council recognised the HIV/Aids pandemic as a global health emergency. Last month, it afforded similar status to ebola in West Africa, where the Church has been using its considerable experience of dealing with HIV/Aids in countering the disease
Pope Paul VI reaffirmed the ban on artificial contraception. But he also championed the Second Vatican Council, which he saw as beginning a dialogue with the secular world
IT IS HARD to think of a good word for something that has the potential to ruin the lives of millions of people as it multiplies and spreads around the planet. Fortunately we already have a good word: it is “virus”.
The ground rules for the Synod on the Family, as laid down by Pope Francis, allow not just debate but collegial decision-making. Francis is in listening mode – an attitude, he insists, that requires humility. At this stage, the road ahead is intriguingly unclear
Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics has been a prominent theme in the run-up to the Synod on the Family. Here, a theologian identifies how the synod might re-imagine the concept of mercy for this group, and theologians in Africa, Latin America and Asia identify their priorities
Celebrations begin next Wednesday to mark the 500th anniversary of the birth of St Teresa of Avila – a loyal daughter of the Church who was unafraid of speaking out against intolerance
Wildlife populations have halved in the last 40 years and it is thought that human activity is to blame. A London Zoological Society study supports the argument that addressing the global loss of species is more urgent even than tackling climate change
Brazil’s presidential elections will go to a second round later this month with two candidates, the current president and a former state governor with a playboy image. While the battle will be fought along the usual party lines, the outcome is unpredictable
After the Scottish referendum, the spotlight falls on the governance of the other elements of the Union. The long-term solution must be an English Parliament, equal to those of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and separate from Westminster
The Liberal Democrats have sounded defiantly optimistic this week at a conference dominated by their record in coalition with the Conservatives. Despite their poor showing in the polls, it is still possible they will again hold the balance of power after next year’s general election
An englishman, described as an aid worker, takes aid to Syria as part of an aid convoy. He wants to ensure the aid goes to children, not murderers. With the aid of a sharp blade and social media, the murderers shock the world.
The Bishop of Arundel and Brighton resigned this week after a Sunday newspaper revealed that he broke his vow of celibacy. His departure is a blow for the diocese and the wider Church
The Conservatives had an inauspicious start to their conference, losing one MP to exultant Ukip and having a minister involved in a sex scandal. The week heralded further problems for David Cameron, as our observer detects in the second of her reports
As the Synod on the Family opens tomorrow, the fifth in our series looks at some of the 253 participants from around the world, and examines the gamble – perhaps a defining moment of his pontificate – Pope Francis has taken in encouraging open dialogue and debate
Whether divorced and remarried Catholics should be allowed to receive Communion will be a key topic at the Synod on the Family. Here, a writer argues for the status quo
I have mentioned my mother often in food writing, but this is the first time since she died that I do so. It is no longer about what she does in a kitchen, but what she did. I have found it extraordinary how, in the last few days, her influence has become stronger.
As the Islamist group Boko Haram is said to be surrounding the city of Maiduguri in the latest stage of its campaign of violence against Christians and Muslims alike, an expert on the country considers why the authorities are powerless to halt its progress
The SNP leader Alex Salmond won the admiration of the Catholic bishops but a respected commentator predicts that the Church’s relationship with his party may now turn sour
The Catholic charity Depaul UK aims to recreate a sense of family life for the thousands of homeless young people who pass through its care. Now, as it marks its twenty-fifth anniversary, the organisation is embarking on an ambitious expansion of its services
The Catholic Church is steadfast in its opposition to same sex unions but in the fourth of our series looking ahead to next month’s Synod on the Family, a theologian claims there is no good reason to confine marriage to heterosexual couples
The Labour Party conference began in the aftermath of the Scottish referendum, amid concerns that Britain may join the US in bombing the Islamic State. Here, in the first of her conference season reports, our observer finds a leader short on ideas to match the gravity of the times
There is nothing like team sport for creating a spirit of harmony and that is just what happened when a cricket XI from the Vatican played another from the Church of England on a beautiful autumn day in Canterbury
Following the canonisation of Josemaría Escrivá, the Opus Dei movement now has a second leading figure on the path to sainthood. To be beatified in Madrid today, he is Alvaro del Portillo who, as a senior member of movement in Britain explains, played key role in defining and defending the lay vocation
A TWO-DAY symposium at the United States Library of Congress, entitled “Preparing for Discovery”, to discuss the possible impact on society of finding life in space, was my destination this month.
The leading proponent of relaxing the ban on Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics tells Christopher Lamb that the Church too often appears rule-bound
In the third of our series looking at issues to be discussed at the forthcoming Synod on the Family, a leading biblical scholar suggests that if bishops were to study carefully the scriptural texts on the family, marriage, children and divorce, they might be in for a shock or two
When a towering player in the tragedy afflicting Northern Ireland died last week, he was mourned more by former enemies than by one-time supporters. A seasoned observer of the conflict says this is a legacy of one of the most remarkable political U-turns of recent times
The latest threat by Islamist extremists to murder a captured British aid worker has thrown into sharp relief the ethical dilemma posed by the British and American Governments’ policy of refusing to pay ransoms for their kidnapped citizens
Tomorrow, Pope Francis makes a one-day visit to Albania, until recently among the most isolated places in Europe. The majority of the country’s citizens are Muslim but it is determined to present itself as a model of interfaith tolerance – in contrast to its troubled past
Increasing numbers of prophetic voices within the Church see evidence of God’s creative dynamism in the process of evolution. As this approach grips the Catholic imagination, it opens up vibrant new possibilities for evangelisation
Some major world cities will ban cars on Monday to highlight the damage caused by our love affair with the automobile. It is, for one avowed non-motorist, a glimpse of God’s default setting of the human pace
Syrian refugee children have lost at least three years of schooling because of the war that is tearing their country apart. Now, as Patrick Nicholson reports, a Caritas programme is helping to bring them back to the classroom
Schools are at the heart of faith outreach work that is taking the ancient town of Hartlepool by storm, as organisers Jeremy Cain and Anne Marie Lavelle explain
A growing number of overseas families, including Catholics, are choosing to educate their children in Britain. The popularity of British boarding schools among foreigners has revived an educational way of life which had been in decline, reports Jeremy Sutcliffe
Education reforms have sidelined religious studies in schools. Peter and Charlotte Vardy ask how the current situation came about, and call on Catholic schools to do more to promote the subject
A unique part-time doctoral programme offers those involved in pastoral care a chance to explore the theories underpinning the practice of their professions, as Zoë Bennett explains
This month, foreign-language teaching has become a compulsory part of the primary school curriculum for the first time. Isabel de Bertodano looks at how schools are adapting to the new government requirements
The other day, I saw an interesting new beer in my local pub and bought a pint. It was extremely expensive, and I wondered why, until I noticed that the label on the tap described it as a “craft” ale.
Miss O’Friel was my A level English teacher at St Dominic’s School on the Falls Road in Belfast, writes Mary McAleese. Civil war was breaking out on our doorstep and not only was I at school in one of the prime flashpoints for the war, I was living in Ardoyne, where tensions remain high to this day.
In the second in our series looking forward to the forthcoming Synod on the Family, the Bishop of Antwerp argues that the Church must take some bold initiatives if it is to restore its credibility
Bishop Bonny writes with great passion and deep concern. He speaks very directly out of his pastoral experience, arguing that there needs to be real collegial discussion of the controversial issues relating to marriage and sexuality.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is to create a new monastic community at his London residence of Lambeth Palace. Like many experiments with innovative models of religious life, it will combine aspects ancient and modern
Enzo Bianchi is the founder of an ecumenical community in Italy who was recently appointed by Pope Francis to play a formal role in the Holy See’s discussions with other Churches. Here, a former member of the Bose community looks at Bianchi’s life and work
Personal engagement is high on the agenda of the woman charged by the Government with turning around the lives of Britain’s most dysfunctional families. A cradle Catholic, she tells Joanna Moorhead of the inspiration of Cardinal Basil Hume and the importance to her of the Church’s social teaching
Next Thursday, Scots will decide whether they want their country to leave the UK. Polls have shown the two sides neck and neck, and the votes of Scotland’s Catholics could make the difference. Here, a Scottish academic looks back at the campaign
‘Crossing the Threshold’ is a project initiated by the bishops of England and Wales that evangelises by the straightforward means of giving people easier access to the established treasures of church life
The Labour MP and pro-life activist espoused causes from equality to an elected House of Lords, and fostered a sense of a Catholic community at Westminster
With less than two weeks to go before Scots vote to decide whether their country should leave the UK, a charity worker and academic explains how Catholic Social Teaching underpins his hopes for the emergence of a new independent Scotland
Police, prosecutors and local officials all failed in their duty to protect 1,400 girls and young women from Asian abusers. Nor are politicians free from blame, admits one of the town’s MPs during the 16 years of denial
This month, East Enders remember the London Dock Strike, which ended 125 years ago. The unlikely figure at the centre of the negotiations between the dock companies and the strikers’ leaders was a frail 81-year-old cardinal
Last weekend, the Pope sent a special blessing to the people of Castel Gandolfo to mark the festival celebrating their Madonna. But the town is suffering because Francis does not stay at his summer residence, and livelihoods are at risk
The first in a series of articles looking at the issues to be discussed at the forthcoming synod argues that what is decided will be less important than how the decisions are made. It will be the key test for Pope Francis’ vision of the Church
As both the militant Palestinian group Hamas and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emerge weakened following the truce in Gaza, a former leading British diplomat in the region assesses the prospects for a lasting peace
Shuffling into a railway arch by one of London’s busiest road intersections is a queue of hungry people. But this is no Vauxhall soup kitchen. Instead the crowd is an eclectic mix. There is a barrister, loudly discussing his latest case, a few people in bike gear, a group who have just emerged from the Tea House Theatre and a young man – my son in fact – who is on a quest to find the best burger in town.
Scots are soon to vote on independence. This week, in the first of two articles examining the implications of the ballot for the two countries, a writer steeped in the cultural and linguistic links between Scotland and England argues that they are indivisible
Iraqi Christians fled their ancestral homes in Mosul and Nineveh in fear of Islamic State. A former diplomat, who has toured their refugee camps in Kurdistan, describes here why he believes the community may yet survive
Is it unreasonable to ask elderly people where they would prefer to die and how? Some individuals think so, judging by the adverse reaction to an initiative from NHS England
Pope Francis has chosen slavery as the theme of the forty-eighth World Day of Peace on 1 January 2015. But campaigners say a British anti-slavery bill is missing a vital element
Catholic and Evangelical Christians will be meeting in Germany next week. Francis is leading the way with a new approach based on empathy and a shared vision of evangelisation
The close collaboration between Bishop Tony Palmer and Pope Francis was ended abruptly earlier this year by the bishop’s sudden death. Back in May he spoke to the Pope’s biographer about their shared goal of unity
ON SUNDAY in a rural Andalusian village, all the shops should be shut. Except there is one stall, set outside a busy local bar, breaking the normally strictly observed trading principles. A woman, probably in her mid-thirties, is selling produce from her garden: boxes of sweet-flavoured grapes, figs, eggs, jams and honey.
The jihadist group now calling itself the Islamic State, which has terrorised religious minorities in Syria and Iraq, has declared its intention to restore the caliphate. Yet the extremists’ aims are remote from those of earlier Islamic rulers
In Kenya earlier this month, a unique gathering met to discuss the Church in Africa and how it can contribute to the future of a continent poised at a critical juncture
The Archbishop of St Louis celebrated a Mass for peace and justice this week after police shot dead an unarmed black teenager in the suburb of Ferguson. The death of Michael Brown and the heavy-handed police response to street protests is a reminder of America’s stark racial divide
The Pope’s overarching message during his visit to Korea was one of reconciliation between North and South – and between the Vatican and the regional superpower, China
Since 1976, Fr John Oh Wooing-jin has built Kkottongnae – the “Flower Village” – into South Korea’s largest social welfare organisation, caring for almost 4,000 homeless people, intellectually and physically disabled folk, alcoholics, elderly people and abandoned babies, writes Noel O’Neill.
Pope Francis has suggested that Benedict XVI has paved the way for future popes to stand down and that he too may one day do so. Here, a Vatican historian says Francis’ view is correct and that those who claim otherwise are not disinterested observers
Darwin’s seminal work is still seen in some quarters as incompatible with Christianity. But Catholic theologians and scientists have come to see it as evidence of God’s creative dynamism
Clinical psychiatrist and writer who transformed Catholics’ understanding and appreciation of the value of marriage
The european Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft arrived at comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on 6 August. Launched more than 10 years ago, it has now taken up an orbit around the Sun that parallels the comet’s path, to keep the comet in its cameras from a distance of only a few tens of kilometres.
The potential pitfalls of commercial surrogacy have emerged in the case of a Down’s syndrome baby born to a Thai woman. Yet there may be circumstances in which the Church’s ethical opposition to surrogate motherhood could be challenged
Reactions to the Vatican’s new guidelines on the appropriate way of offering the sign of peace during Mass suggest that the real significance of the document has been misunderstood
When the cardinals met to elect a new pope in September 1914, Europe was at war. But the grim international situation was not the only factor that would influence the outcome
A decade of work by volunteers is uncovering an Elizabethan Northamptonshire garden rich in Catholic symbolism, which is testament to the beliefs of an English recusant
BITTER EXCHANGES are taking place every day on the subject of the conflict in Gaza. Some have accused the Israelis of genocide. The word has been applied more widely to the conflict in Iraq.
“Nun tears down Jihadi flag after it appeared at gates of Tower Hamlets estate,” wrote one newspaper after Sr Christine Frost, a Faithful Companion of Jesus, arranged for a provocative black Islamic flag to be removed from the gate of the Will Crooks estate in Poplar, east London.
Catholic aid workers, church leaders and medical personnel are on the front line in West Africa battling to control a disease that has already claimed more than 800 lives. But the ebola virus is doing more than killing people; it is spreading fear and suspicion and wiping out whole communities
On Thursday, Pope Francis begins a five-day visit to South Korea, a country with a young and growing Catholic community. He will beatify more than 100 Korean martyrs, a reminder of the persecution of Christians that is continuing in North Korea
As key players continue in Cairo to try to hammer out a more durable ceasefire to the conflict in Gaza following this week’s 72-hour truce brokered by Egypt, a former leading British diplomat in the Middle East analyses the problems both new and old faced by peacemakers
What to do with thousands of lone youngsters making the hazardous journey from Central America to the US is shaping up to be an issue in this autumn’s congressional elections
A thriving international peace movement fell apart at the start of the First World War. However, those who held fast to the principle that war is incompatible with Christianity regrouped and the association that followed proved deeply influential
Two women remember how their conscientious objector grandfathers suffered for their principles
At the beginning of the year I wrote happily about Sainsbury’s expanding range, but after a recent visit to a fairly big store, I was sorry to see that some of the wines that I had recommended had disappeared.
The search for peace between Israel and Palestine is beset by advocates on both sides unable to hear alternative voices
Although the Vatican’s watchdog takes a dim view of doctrinal dissent, it has approved a new document that one leading theologian, who has herself questioned aspects of the Magisterium, describes as a ‘revolutionary’ text for all baptised Catholics
One hundred years ago this week, diplomacy failed and the world descended into war. Outrage at recent events in Gaza and Ukraine may be justified, but although the risks of failure are high we must not abandon diplomatic efforts to find lasting solutions in the world’s trouble spots
In 1914 the British Government was slow to recognise the importance for Catholic soldiers of having a chaplain alongside them. Once the issue was addressed, the courage of the men and their priests was greatly admired
The French Government and the Catholic Church have condemned the anti-Semitic demonstrations which have targeted Jewish shops and synagogues in recent weeks. Here a commentator says the latest protests have had the effect of bringing together once mortal enemies
Fifty years ago next week, Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical letter Ecclesiam Suam, a groundbreaking document that changed the way the Church understood itself. No longer simply wagging a finger at the modern world, the Church began to enter into dialogue with it
The Archbishop of Canterbury has talked about competing the pay-day lender Wonga out of the market. Now the Church of England has begun to put the ambition into practice
A distrust of economic theory and theorists is characteristic of Pope Francis’ thinking. Instead his thoughts on social policy are rooted in the Gospel and his experience of poverty and injustice in his native Argentina
Officially the UK economy may be back to where it was before the financial crash of 2008, but the gap between rich and poor is wider than ever
With the Co-operative Bank working hard to reinvent itself after the worst losses and scandal in its 142-year history, is it wise to abandon it as it attempts to rebuild customer trust, and what are the ethical alternatives?
We are moving house and I will say goodbye to our beehive clay oven. This is a wood-fired oven we got on a whim, thinking myself to be quite the primitive cook that would attempt all sorts of derring-do adventures outdoors.
The destruction of a Malaysian Airlines aircraft by rebels in eastern Ukraine is more than just a loss of innocent lives. The incident and the response to it illustrate the gulf between Russia and the West, and the conflicting views of Vladimir Putin
A senior Anglican priest was the only member of Lord Falconer’s commission to challenge its conclusion that the law should be changed so that terminally ill people can be helped to end their lives. Here, he argues that time is needed for a richer and more nuanced consideration of the issues
A political war of words has begun at the United Nations over the latest conflict between Israel and the Palestinians which has left hundreds dead in Gaza. But behind the rhetoric is a story of human suffering, described here by Caritas’ Jerusalem Gaza coordinator
One of the most important sees in the United States, Chicago, has to be filled, after Cardinal Francis George declared his wish to resign on the grounds of age and ill-health
Joining a drug-dealing gang in Los Angeles usually leads to a lifetime of crime or an early death. One priest’s initiative to break this cycle has had remarkable success but the work is far from complete
Many Great War survivors remained silent for decades, their secret stories emerging only towards the end of their lives
Prolific author, editor and publisher whose energies were devoted to exploring the links between faith and culture
It was a beautiful theory, while it lasted. Most meteorites are well-compressed lumps of primordial dust and little beads of rock. But some are chips of lava, bits of some small asteroid that melted and sorted itself into a small iron core and a crust of frozen basaltic lava.
The Church of England’s synod this week voted to allow women to be ordained as bishops. But what will it mean for Anglicans’ relationship with Rome?
One of England’s most high-profile Catholic colleges, the Jesuit-run Heythrop, is considering joining forces with the new university of St Mary’s, Twickenham. It would be a move brought about by the harsh reality of today’s economic climate
Pope Francis begged forgiveness for the sins committed by the sons and daughters of the Church when he met six survivors of clerical sex abuse last week. One of the group, who himself was molested by two priests, describes the encounter and what he urged the Pope to do
The possibility of married priests appears to be nudging its way on to Rome’s agenda. Here, a leading advocate of change argues that mandatory celibacy should be set aside
At the heart of our relationship with God is the commitment of two people to each other. When couples fall in love, God is moved and the universe quickens on its way. When they answer “I do” to the question about lifelong commitment, it is a moment of divine incarnation
With the announcement of a female bishop possible before the end of the year, we look at the women clergy in the Church of England who might gain a mitre.
As the number of would-be settlers in detention soars to nearly 800, the MP chairing an inquiry into British immigration policy describes how she became convinced it is unfit for purpose
Unharmed by its appearance in the fusty OED or its embrace by the old and the unhip, “lol” marches on, appended to texts, emails, tweets and Facebook comments. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has yet to end its letters with the same valediction, but it is only a matter of time.
Reforms are underway at the Vatican bank after a crisis so deep that it has direct links with the resignation of Benedict XVI
New inquiries into historical abuse, and recent court cases, are exposing people for criminal actions they thought long hidden. This reckoning has a lesson for all of society
This week Pope Francis met victims of sexual abuse. Two each from Britain, Ireland and Germany attended Mass with him and spoke of their trauma. But as the wife of another victim of abuse by a priest explains, the suffering also engulfs loved ones and family members
In last week’s edition of The Tablet, we published several responses to the working document, or instrumentum laboris, that the bishops will use at their synod in Rome in October. Here we highlight the views of the younger generation of Catholics – the people who have come of age in an increasingly secular world dominated by social media and in a Church far less confident about formation
The views of the laity on sex, marriage and the family are reported in the working document, or instrumentum laboris, prepared for the October synod of bishops. But natural law, not the sensus fidelium, is still likely to dominate the discussions
Lord Falconer’s bill promoting assisted dying is to be extensively debated at its second reading on Friday in the House of Lords. But, warns an eminent lawyer and staunch opponent of allowing the terminally ill to seek medical help to end their lives, it is a flawed draft with no safeguards against abuse
VINO NOBILE di Montepulciano (to those who know it) probably carries a certain air of tradition, alongside the superior and better-known Brunello di Montalcino.
The key working document, or instrumentum laboris, that bishops will use at their synod in Rome this October was published last week. Close analysis reveals an institution for which marriage, sex and the family remain problematic, suffering a huge gap between theory and practice
Classical images of the family are under pressure. This is no surprise, and perhaps it was always so. But what this document reflects, with unusual clarity and frankness, is the widening variety of difficulties currently faced by those attempting to recreate that mysterious, almost unattainable ideal of Nazareth.
Lack of knowledge of church teaching “The People of God’s knowledge of conciliar and post-conciliar documents on the Magisterium of the family seems to be rather wanting.”
Media pictures of radicalised young men create a distorted view of Islam, argues a Muslim sociologist, who presents a different portrait of her faith in Britain today
The president of one of the foremost US Catholic universities tells Michael Sean Winters how he is working to create a ‘rich sense of what a Catholic university should be’
Cost-cutting measures are threatening the future of courses inspired by the mission of St Katharine Drexel to help disadvantaged students in the US acquire the basic language skills they need to get through university courses and into work
Washington DC is a city dedicated to the American political machine. But in a corner of it is what might be called the Pope’s business school, dedicated to inculcating in students the virtues of an economic system better known for its amorality and greed
Campaigner for changes in attitudes both inside and outside the Church, educator and writer
NEW GUIDELINES on our sugar intake miss the mark a bit. The insistence in a draft report by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) that we halve the amount of sugar we consume sounds like good sense, but our consumption of sugar is a little more complicated than the number of lumps added to a cup of tea.
Britain’s Ambassador to the Holy See tells Hannah Roberts that improving religious literacy is vital to the relationship between the Foreign Office and the Vatican
Nuns’ leaders in the United States have fallen out with the Vatican over ‘conscious evolution’. A leading exponent of the idea explains it to Christopher Lamb and rejects claims that its advocates are pantheists
A scientific ‘magic bullet’ is promised to erode malaria. Until then victims need other treatments
In the sixteenth century, Jesuit missionaries returning from South America brought home a powder with the power to heal a deadly disease then rampant in Europe
Sister Ilia is director of Catholic Studies at Georgetown University who has recently completed a speaking tour of UK and Ireland. She is a proponent of “conscious evolution” an obscure theory that Cardinal Gerhard Muller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, recently accused the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) of accepting too readily.
Consumers should still trust the Fairtrade label to deliver decent returns to producers in the developing world despite recent research revealing that the poorest agricultural workers receive little benefit, argues one of the champions of the system
Romania may not boast industrial wealth but it has riches galore in a countryside unsullied by the agribusiness of its new European Union partners. But can its traditional farming methods and abundance of flora and fauna long banished from the fields of Britain continue to thrive?
Collaboration, cohesion, fulfilment, learning and listening – these were the basis of Jesuit education identified in a conference in London last week to mark 400 years of Heythrop College
Heythrop college this year celebrates its 400th anniversary. Originally founded in Belgium to educate British Jesuits, it moved to England during the French Reign of Terror, settled in London in 1970 and became part of the University of London in 1971.
After his visit to Rome, the Archbishop of Canterbury tells Christopher Lamb where he finds the most important points of unity between the Catholic and Anglican Churches
The savage advance of Sunni insurgents led by Isis has put the future of Iraq in doubt this week. The fighting threatens the entire region and exposes political weakness and duplicity
The extreme Islamist violence that swept through Iraq this week has its echoes in Nigeria, Kenya and the Maghreb lands of North Africa. It marks the final collapse of Western schemes to divide up the world, and the rebirth of the notion of a Muslim caliphate straddling several continents
Over the next two years the worldwide head of the Society of Jesus, Fr Adolfo Nicolás, will be preparing to step down. As this weekend Heythrop College marks the 400th anniversary of its foundation by the English Jesuits in Louvain, a historian looks at recent trends in the society and surveys the future
The police are no longer focused just on crime but also on dealing with the most vulnerable people in society. But, says the chief constable of Greater Manchester, this is a time of austerity and they cannot do all the public wants of them. This is an opportunity for others to play their part, too
An unnoticed Vatican promotion last month gives the strongest hint of how the Pope plans to press the reform agenda
A summit in London last week challenged assumptions about rape during war. Have religions failed women and been part of the problem? Or can they be part of the solution?
Pope Francis’ recent reconciliation with Patriarch Bartholomew threw the spotlight on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, site of an annual miracle for Orthodox Christians. But getting in to witness it is far from easy, as Louise Cowley recounts
An innovative way of spending Holy Week aims to place the custodianship of the planet at the centre of Christian practice, as eco-sceptic Anthony Weaver found out when he shared a farm in Spain with 23 children and a variety of fowl and fur
Set on the shores of a shimmering lake in the south-west of Macedonia, the Byzantine town of Ohrid occupies a unique place in the development of Slavic Christianity, as Chris Deliso explains
On a small island off the south-west coast of Wales, with a millennium of monastical history, Alban McCoy finds that the rhythm of life reaches beyond time
Veneration of the Divine Mercy is popular in places as far apart as Malawi and Poland, writes Alana Harris, attracting pilgrims seeking prayer and solace
Given his dislike of labels, it is hard to categorise John Challenor, who was a founder member of the Catholic Renewal Movement, later Catholics for a Changing Church (CCC).
IN THE wake of the recent Budget, one phrase was used over and over again on the airwaves. Various Opposition figures told us that the Coalition was a “zombie government”, and the BBC’s commentators joined them. It was as if they’d lost control of their own mental processes.
This month, all eyes are on Brazil playing host to the beautiful game. In the first of two articles, we consider the extremes and contradictions of the country: its wealth and poverty, beauty and degradation, Catholicism and Pentecostalism
Some of the top footballers competing in Brazil are deeply religious men, drawing inspiration from God for their lifestyles both on and off the pitch. Here they talk of their belief in Jesus.
Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill had its first parliamentary reading last week. It allows doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of drugs to terminally ill people with just six months to live who wish to end their lives. Here, a leading campaigner warns of the dangers to all those with special needs
D.H. Lawrence claimed to have rejected the Christianity of his childhood by the time he reached 16, but many of his stories and poems suggest otherwise, with one recent scholar calling him fundamentally a religious writer
Church leaders, theologians and ecumenists from the six continents met in the United States this week and demonstrated that discourse between the different denominations is thriving thanks to an approach developed in Britain
A government inquiry into religious-run mother-and-baby homes may unearth yet more uncomfortable truths
I suppose that rosé can be a refreshing drink for the summer, but I tend to see it as neither one thing or the other; there are light reds (Beaujolais, Bardolino) that you can drink chilled, or why not just go for a tasty white? However, in the interests of balance, and in case you are looking for a decent rosé, I thought that I had better try at least one.
King Juan Carlos’ decision to step down this week shook Spain and provoked anti-monarchy demonstrations. Can his son, Felipe, stabilise and reunite a fragmenting society?
Forgiveness is not listed among the traditional gifts of the Holy Spirit, but, in the first of two articles to mark Pentecost, a Dominican argues that it has become central to Catholicism
Christian spirituality is rooted in the Incarnation and a person’s birth marks the start of a journey towards growing into the very likeness of God. While there are plenty of distractions along the way, Pentecost provides a reminder of who we really are
Having a soft spot for children is as undeniably Italian as eating a gelato while riding a Vespa. But the days of large families are long gone, and with a new record low birth rate announced last week the country is facing a long-term crisis of population decline
“My mother and father were each one of eight or nine brothers and sisters. By contrast, my daughter Rosa has just one daughter. I am the principal carer for my granddaughter Flavia, 12.
Described by some as Assad’s nun but by others as the opposition’s friend, the controversial peacemaker insists to Abigail Frymann that the trust she has won from the warring sides is paying dividends
The genius of Gerard Manley Hopkins went unrecognised during his lifetime. Here, on the weekend of the 125th anniversary of his death, a fellow Jesuit celebrates his mastery of language and vivid imagination
People who would never eat a lobster on welfare grounds will tell you that eating these shellfish is comparable to cannibalism. Like humans, a lobster has an extended childhood, a difficult adolescence, carries its unborn young for nine months and can live to 100 years, according to People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, adding that they suffer when boiled alive.
Pope Francis’ talent for diplomacy was to the fore during his three-day pilgrimage. He secured an agreement for the Palestinian and Israeli presidents to join him in Rome to pray for peace
The Conservative Party was the largest UK delegation in the European Parliament between 2009 and 2014. With Ukip now taking that mantle by number of MEPs, I am concerned that they are unlikely to be as committed – or as successful – since they refuse to take reports, ...
The Vatican has been mediating in a political row that has led to four months of violence in Venezuela. It’s not the first time the Church has played the role of peacemaker in Latin America, and the election of an Argentinian Pope has stimulated fresh interest – from Peru and Colombia to Cuba, even the Falklands (or Malvinas).
Church and State in Pope Francis’ native country have been looking to him to resolve their conflict, which stems from the bishops’ complaints of government corruption, inequality and violence
I should feel elated, having had the great privilege of attending the Mass Pope Francis celebrated in Amman on Saturday. What I feel instead is a kind of heaviness, something of the weight I imagine the Pope to have felt on his three-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
A major new force emerged in British politics this week when Ukip topped the polls in the Euro elections. Now all three main parties have reason to fear for their future at Westminster
Does it matter that the Feast of Pentecost is no longer marked by a day off? Here, a commentator argues that it’s time for the Church to defend the religious roots of the calendar
In what has been described as “10 Commandments for the internet age”, Archbishop Eamon Martin, incoming Archbishop of Armagh, has called upon Catholics to be “positive and joyful” online, and to use “digital smiles”. Hard advice to follow in an internet world full of bitterness, recrimination and nastiness.
The purpose of Francis’ momentous pilgrimage is to cement a historic peace with the Eastern Orthodox Church, but observers will be looking to him to use his influence to ease political and religious tensions in today’s divided Middle East
The journalist who covered John Paul II’s visit to Palestine for The Tablet saw the green shoots of peace wither in the harsh climate of discord. Here he wonders if this time realism might prevail
The Jesuit provincial of East Africa, himself a Nigerian, writes an open letter of criticism to his country’s president about the plight of the girls abducted by Boko Haram
The CEO of the Inspiration Trust tells Jeremy Sutcliffe that it is to her Jesuit education that she owes her phenomenal success in turning around failing schools
Pope Francis will receive an especially warm welcome from Palestinian Christians in the region, and in Bethlehem in particular, where their numbers have declined so dramatically since the start of this century
At 26, Michael Wear is already an old White House hand, used to treading the fine divide between religion and politics. He spoke to The Tablet about Obama, fear – and religious freedom as a hot political potato of the coming years
A Catholic college has withdrawn from sale letters by Jacqueline Kennedy to a priest after it was criticised for violating her privacy. All Hallows in Dublin says it decided not to auction the correspondence after contact with the Kennedy family
IN A RECENT homily, Pope Francis used a colourful image to describe how the Early Church reacted when Gentiles approached the Apostles and asked to be baptised.
The health watchdog Nice warned last weekend of an ‘increased risk of harm’ in understaffed hospitals, a view backed by other recent research. Here, a nurses’ leader argues for investment in an expanded and well-trained workforce to meet the challenges of the future
The former Archbishop of Canterbury is now the chairman of Christian Aid. Rowan Williams talks to Madeleine Bunting about his role at the helm of the charity, how inequality of power must be fought – and why the press are good for the soul
A Catholic primary school, almost all of whose pupils are Muslim, is being transferred to the Church of England, a decision questioned by its chairman of governors, Nicolas Kennedy
The head teacher of a Catholic school is tasked with maintaining its ethos, and there is evidence that heads see this as the most demanding aspect of their work. Here, Adrian Porter explains a new initiative to provide them with one-to-one spiritual support
More and more aid to the poorest countries of the world is being delivered by faith-based charities. Yet the latest in a series of public discussions on the role of belief in the modern world revealed tensions and suspicions about their work, as one of the organisers reports
It’s no bed of roses, says one young priest, while another wonders when there will be time to pray. But all in a recently ordained group agreed in conversation with The Tablet that they were inspired by their calling and the life of grace-filled service it has brought them
THE RESULTS of a recent competition among wine retailers provided what to many observers was the surprising news that supermarket “own label” wines were quite good, and that stores such as Aldi and Lidl could be ranked alongside – if not above – the more established names. All of this will be no surprise to readers of this little column.
As the Australian Government admits its own failures, Mark Brolly considers the success of Catholic schools in giving indigenous peoples the same educational opportunities as the rest of the population
As the London Oratory chalks up 150 years and its neighbour a couple of miles north, the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, celebrates its centenary, Michael Walsh looks at the world from which they grew
Westminster Archdiocese is pioneering free tutoring to help non-native-English-speaking children struggling with homework, and it is working, as Carolyn Morrison explains
Answers to the traditional question of identity are being reforged for today’s secular world, as Catherine Pepinster found out on a visit to St Jerome’s University in Canada
One of England’s biggest Catholic schools has introduced a prayer space to help children cope with the stress of exams.
The questioning of Gerry Adams over the death of Jean McConville put a Jesuit-founded university in the spotlight over its collecting of oral history of the Troubles. That a prestigious college should be embroiled in this row is ironic, given its origins as an educator of the Irish Catholic poor
Recent events in Northern Ireland serve as a reminder that due legal process has too often been sacrificed to stop a return to violence. But that should not mean, says a seasoned observer, abandoning the Good Friday Agreement or jeopardising the post-conflict achievements
Pope Francis told the bishops of Sri Lanka last week that the Church is uniquely placed to bring unity to the troubled country. Meanwhile, an international conference there highlighted how the vision of the Jesuit scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin could heal its wounds, left by decades of civil war
The grilling of Catholic Church representatives at a UN hearing on torture this week highlighted the tensions between the Holy See and its secular liberal critics. Twenty years on from the Cairo conference on population and development, a theologian makes a plea for greater understanding
The freedom to express views is upheld in the West, but according to a human-rights lawyer it is by no means an absolute right, especially where the Israel-Palestine conflict is concerned
Overblown, unwieldy, corrupt and damaging to British interests: these are the charges levelled at the EU as the Euro elections approach. The danger, warns the secretary of the European bishops, is that the rhetoric overshadows what a bold and successful venture the union has been
Come the start of the monsoon season next month, hundreds of fishing trawlers will come to a standstill for 45 days on the shores of the Arabian Sea in the southern Indian state of Kerala. The annual ban on mechanised fishing during the breeding season to conserve fish stocks is a legacy of the Redemptorist priest, Fr Thomas Kocherry, who died of a heart attack last week aged 73.
In his recent Language! 500 Years of the Vulgar Tongue, Jonathon Green, the cynosure of slang studies, lists 1,740 words for sexual intercourse, 1,351 for penis and 1,180 for vagina.
The fatal stabbing of a teacher in front of her pupils at a school in Leeds dominated the headlines for the past week. Corpus Christi College has drawn on its Catholic roots in its immediate response to the tragedy. How can it use them to face the future?
Years of religious tolerance have given way to bitter conflict and ethnic cleansing in the Central African Republic. The Catholic Archbishop of Bangui and the country’s Chief Imam have worked tirelessly to bring about reconciliation but extremist forces are on the march
Catholic philosopher Charles Taylor is one of the foremost thinkers on secularisation in the world today. In the first of three articles on the debate about the place of Christian belief in modern culture, he talked to Catherine Pepinster about the rejected secular experiment in his home province of Quebec and why he is so enthusiastic about contemporary society
The public figures who last month criticised David Cameron for describing Britain as a Christian country were the inheritors of a long tradition of rejection of faith. Here, the author of a new book on non-believers sifts the secularists from the humanists, and the atheists from the anti-theists
The Prime Minister’s assertion that Britain is a Christian country and believers should be more evangelical about their faith has sparked a lengthy debate about the nation. Here, one of the leading critics of Anglican establishment says that David Cameron’s intervention has changed his mind
The million pilgrims who attended the raising to the altars of John XXIII and John Paul II enjoyed euphoric celebrations of sanctity last weekend. But the ceremony was also evidence of Francis’ canniness in trying to steady the barque of St Peter while also steering his own course
Media comment, political debate and public attitudes tend to be negative about old age, but the facts and experience of many reveal a very different picture, says one specialist in the field of social care
With no guaranteed working hours and pay often below the minimum wage, care workers are often seen as the Cinderella service of the welfare state. The situation is just as bad for the elderly people who rely on them
When announcing a shortage of a narcotic food like chocolate, there is a risk of causing a run. Have you, I wonder, already got up to dash to the supermarket and buy up every bar in sight? Or are you a bit like me: fond of an after-dinner fondant but otherwise not that addicted, so not especially aggrieved that demand is currently outstripping supply?
Prime Minister David Cameron caused a stir last week with his comments about the importance of Christianity in British society. Here, the Chancellor of the Exchequer pays tribute to the role cathedrals play in communities and explains why he has set up a special fund to assist in financing their restoration
or Britain’s cathedrals, the marking of the centenary of the First World War has turned out to be a Godsend, writes James Macintyre.
From the Good News of Easter Day, everything is born anew. What once seemed dead bursts into life as spring enfolds us. A crocus in the mud can transform our understanding of God – this evolving planet is his body and our true home
For the Jewish people it is entirely fitting that the two popes should be honoured together by being canonised at the same time, for both transformed the relationship between Catholics and their ‘older brothers’, the Jews
This weekend Jean Vanier will see two friends raised to the altars. The founder of L’Arche talks to Brendan Walsh about the peasant shrewdness of Angelo Roncalli, the confidence of Karol Wojtyla – and Pope Francis’ revolution of tenderness
The Catholic sculptor Arthur Fleischmann was unique in executing busts of four popes, among them John XXIII and John Paul II. Here, his widow explains how the work came about and recalls the couple’s encounters with two future saints
The history of popes who have been canonised is full of inconsistencies. Here a church historian looks at the very few popes who perhaps deserved to be honoured in this way and the many more who almost certainly did not
Making John XXIII and John Paul II saints on the same day brings together two very different men representing two very different strands of Catholicism. It also highlights how diversity can enrich, not damage, the Church, says a leading theologian
In his long career, the Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster met John Paul II on a number of occasions, before and after his election as pope, and once attended a Mass celebrated by Angelo Roncalli. Here, in a personal memoir, he recalls his experiences with the two men
At the very moment when the Catholic Church in America is becoming more Latino, it is also losing Hispanics. An authoritative new study concludes that greater effort is needed to prevent them drifting away from their faith
Support shown by Russia’s Orthodox Church for President Putin’s annexation of Crimea has seriously damaged its relationship with other Churches in Ukraine. Historical enmities have been revived as the region’s Christians fear a new era of persecution may be about to unfold
A reforming Pope has been at the helm for over a year but change seems too slow in coming for the liking of some. Yet renewal could unfold as gradually as the Good News of Christ’s Resurrection among his disciples
Accounts in the gospels of Jesus’ Resurrection have been pored over endlessly by scholars but the Easter story means much more in the light of lived experience, argues a leading theologian, viewing it as the practical key to understanding in three contemporary contexts
To inflict our bad temper, frustrations and unhappiness selfishly on others at work or at home is not merely unchristian and deeply uncharitable but is a denial of Jesus amounting to a refusal to believe his love, argues a leading Catholic spiritual author
What draws people to Catholicism? It’s a question that is keenly debated. Here, a one-time atheist who is being received into the Church at the Easter Vigil recounts how the path of his life led him to the Gospel
Poets often celebrate this time of year, but some also lament its vigour, particularly if it clashes with their own dark mood. Whether their verses be about renewal, beauty or over-abundant energy, nature’s vernal regeneration is a rich source of inspiration
The light that gradually fills the darkened church at the Easter Vigil is the light that illuminates the world, Luke Bell explains
Debate is deeply polarised within the Catholic Church of England and Wales over the Government’s flagship policy to encourage schools to become academies. Some dioceses have embraced the idea while others fear that academies deprive other schools of state funds
Hundreds of people from Latin America are robbed, raped or killed every year in their attempt to cross the United States border in search of a better life. In the last safe house in Mexico, a courageous priest does all he can to prepare migrants for the perilous journey north
The Apostleship of the Sea’s centre at the UK’s biggest cargo port is in ruins after it was engulfed by a giant tidal surge last winter. But the charity’s vital work of welcoming sailors from some of the world’s poorest countries continues
Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to intercede on behalf of people who have been condemned to death after being convicted of violating Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Prosecutions are escalating, with vulnerable Christians among the accused
Theologians drawn from the wide variety of rooms of the global Christian mansion met earlier this month to try to break down the barriers that have divided them for centuries. All agreed their mission has been eased by the words and deeds of Pope Francis
A leading Catholic charity boasts more than 100 supporters who, by undertaking to write to their MPs about issues concerning international development, form a highly effective lobbying group, as the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Friends of Cafod explains
There was a charming, thoughtful piece about ageing in The New Yorker recently, by 93-year-old sports writer and essayist Roger Angell.
The Metropolitan Police commissioner this week attended a Vatican conference on human trafficking chaired by Cardinal Vincent Nichols. Here, the commissioner sets out his hopes for London to become a centre of good practice for the prevention of the crime and the care of victims
The exclusion of divorced and remarried Catholics from Communion has distressed many of them and been at the centre of recent debate about their pastoral care. Here, in the week commemorating the Last Supper, a leading Aquinan theologian looks at the theology of St Thomas and his understanding of God’s forgiveness which always impels people towards Communion
Like Auschwitz or the killing fields of Cambodia, today’s memorials in Rwanda to the almost unimaginable horrors of the genocide there 20 years ago are testimony to those who died – a reminder of an unintelligible evil we must confront
Vocal minorities get more attention in the media than they deserve by drowning out religious moderates. The most recent event in a series of public debates examined this thorny problem
In his sixth reflection for Lent, Luke Bell links the story of Christ’s Passion with God’s compassion for humankind, a message that resonates especially in Holy Week
Charges have been stayed against a prime suspect in one of the IRA’s most notorious atrocities in England following the disclosure of a letter from the authorities promising that he would not be prosecuted for the crime. Here, an authority on human rights looks at the background
Veronica offered comfort to Jesus when she wiped his face on the path to Calvary. Her gesture is a reminder of the huge benefit that the laying on of a gentle hand can bring not only to those suffering great pain but also to those who are lonely or afraid
He is the Good Thief crucified on the right hand of the Son of Man with a cameo role in St Luke’s gospel, but the brief exchange he has with Jesus speaks volumes and reminds us yet again that it is the alienated who often come closest to Christ
More and more supermarkets seem to be producing wines that don’t claim to be more than simply red or white, often labelled as the equivalent of “house wine”. Last month, I mentioned the red and white from Asda that are marked simply Italia rosso and Italia bianco and are really very good value.
Heed the words of Pope Francis on today’s slave trade, implores a sister of Loreto. Her extensive experience of helping its victims will be on hand for senior priests and police chiefs at an international conference on human trafficking led by Cardinal Vincent Nichols in Rome next week
My life changed after the death of my parents; they died when I was still a teenager. My younger brother and I were entrusted to the care of our paternal uncles.
The Queen’s visit to Pope Francis this week forms part of a wider picture of growing friendship between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church. It also, says the dean of Westminster, highlights the Queen’s own deep Christian faith
When Jesus restored his friend Lazarus to life, the miracle signified much more than bodily resurrection, as Luke Bell explains in his fifth reflection for Lent
When cardinals from around the world gathered in Rome in February for the consistory, they heard a lengthy exposition from Cardinal Walter Kasper, reproduced in part here, on the importance of the family – and of mercy when all is not well
“Conscious uncoupling” – two words you would have thought were straight of out of the Railway Operator Guide for Dummies – have now entered the marital breakdown lexicon, writes Mark Molden. They have been made famous by their use in the recent announcement that movie actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin are to separate.
On Tuesday the Irish President, Michael D. Higgins, begins a four-day state visit to the UK, the first since the founding of the Irish state 92 years ago. Here, a seasoned diplomatic observer reflects on how far both countries have come to reach this high point in their relations
WHEN NEWS of the merger between the world’s two largest banana producers reached my ears, I looked at my hands. A cupped hungry hand is comparable to the shorter, curled bananas from small farms on islands in the Caribbean. The long, large bananas grown on mainland South America speak of giant plantations run by great corporations.
Recent criticism by Cardinal Vincent Nichols of the Government’s welfare reform heralded to many a new low in relations between the Catholic Church and the Conservative Party. Here, a Tory MP and former Minister lays out the steps Church and politicians should take to narrow the gap of understanding
Modern Jewish scholarship of the New Testament is concerned with how Christ’s teachings are nurtured by Judaism and stem from it. According to one expert in the field, this can serve to further understanding between the two religions
An Anglican father, married into a Jewish family and bringing up his children in the faith of his wife, Michael Williams describes his pride and apprehension as he prepares for his role in his son’s bar mitzvah – the traditional coming of age ceremony when boys become men
The new Archbishop of Liverpool will be installed on the Feast of St Joseph the Worker at the city’s Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King. He told Christopher Lamb about his passion for social justice and concerns about the Government’s welfare reforms
An odd set of coincidences in May 1976 made me, a journalist newly sent by The Guardian to Belfast, a regular supper-table visitor at St Dominic’s Priory, on Haverstock Hill, north London, writes Anne McHardy.
In this Sunday’s second reading, St Paul asks the Ephesians to be “like children of light”. In his fourth reflection for Lent, Luke Bell examines how the transformative qualities of natural light reveal something of God himself
Pope Francis’ appointment of four women to the Holy See’s commission on child protection makes concrete his intention to give females positions of responsibility in the Church. Here a former ambassador to the Holy See, who is Lutheran, reflects on how ‘feminine genius’ can further Francis’ mission
THE INTERNET is constantly throwing up little campaigns, put together by a handful of activists using Twitter, Facebook and all the rest. The “Ban Bossy” campaign, which has spread from the maelstrom of social media into newspapers and television, is different.
In the first of two interviews this week with clergymen who have made outstanding contributions to the Church and the wider world, Jonathan Luxmoore talks to the winner of this year’s Templeton award, the Czech Fr Tomás Halík, who was active in the clandestine Church of the Communist area
Anti-war protester Fr Martin Newell talks to Jonathan Tulloch about how his activism, which has landed him six jail terms, is as integral to his faith as working with the poor
Water is the element that can be present in all the others and so is a potent symbol for God. In his third reflection for Lent, Luke Bell looks at water both as metaphor and as a life-giving force
The annexation of the Crimean peninsula by Russia has outraged the West, but practically it can do little. President Vladimir Putin may be tempted to claim more of the former Soviet empire – but then he would have to contend with Nato
The veteran Labour politician, who died last week, made no bones about the debt he owed to and the inspiration he drew from Christianity, recalls a former parliamentary colleague who, with his wife, became close friends with the man who braved the lion’s den of modern politics
The cause of religious liberty is upheld in the West alongside human rights. But in the most recent Westminster Faith Debate, two academics argued that the two concepts are not necessarily synonymous
Isaac Newton thought that planetary orbits in our solar system were kept stable by God’s direct intervention
A recent study has shown that 15-year-olds in English schools lag three years behind their peers in Shanghai in maths. But Jeremy Sutcliffe argues that attainment in this vital subject is improving and that Catholic schools are among those doing best
It is astonishing how a single teacher can transform the vision and life chances of a whole generation of schoolchildren, writes Jon Cruddas.
Last October, students at the Universities of Manchester Catholic Chaplaincy launched a food bank. Here the chaplain, Tim Byron, explains the effect this has on their education and formation
When you educate a man, you educate a person – but when you educate a woman, you educate a family, a generation, even a whole nation, argues Nigerian-born priest Alvan I. Amadi
Last year 27,000 students in England left university without completing their courses. Isabel de Bertodano explores the reasons and what more can be done to help young people determine whether university is for them
A school whose head has come out fighting after Ofsted branded it ‘inadequate’
Days before his election as Pope a year ago, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was given a book by a fellow cardinal and an old friend. The theme of the book was mercy, which has for Francis from the moment of his first Angelus address become the touchstone of his radical and reforming papacy
Without repeatedly emphasising the influence of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Francis has closely followed its teachings in what he has said and done thus far in his papacy, particularly in seven common themes identified by one leading theologian and fellow Jesuit
Pope Francis has given fresh impetus to interfaith dialogue with the other great monotheistic faiths through his warmth and clarity. In his first year, he has extended the work of Vatican II on relations with Judaism and Islam – but unresolved tensions remain
He has long been viewed as an anti-Catholic writer, but closer reading of the work of Irish dramatist Seán O’Casey, who died 50 years ago, reveals a man who reviled clericalism but warmed to the humanity of the Church and the teachings of its founder
The Church has been re-energised by Pope Francis. That is why, says Bishop Tom Burns, he and his confrères of England and Wales must be open with the results of the questionnaire on family life
Last week, the former US President Bill Clinton urged the people of Northern Ireland to look beyond the sporadic violence threatening their province and complete the peace process. Here, a correspondent reports on a range of quiet initiatives taking the capital, Belfast, into the future
The Sisters of Mercy were pioneers of nursing care from the Crimean War to Australia. Their crowning achievement, the Mater Hospital in Dublin, was founded in 1861 to treat the poor, but today faces ethical as well as financial challenges
For the Christian, getting married or entering the religious life leads to an understanding that life is no longer one’s own. As Luke Bell writes in his second Lent reflection, those who readily give up ownership of the self gain everything
Muslims and Jews are rigorously defending the right to kill animals without stunning them first, following a call from the organisation representing Britain’s vets for all halal and kosher meat to be clearly labelled. It’s a debate that has aroused passions on both sides
Mr Putin, the Russian President, has no doubt about what happened in Kiev. It was, he said, an “anti-constitutional coup”. But to the pro-Western demonstrators who forced the removal of Ukraine’s President Yanukovych, it wasn’t a “coup” at all: it was a “revolution”.
On Thursday Pope Francis will have completed a year as Bishop of Rome, a year in which he has begun to transform the Church. But be in no doubt, argues our Rome correspondent, of just how wide and how deep go his aims for change
The current successor to Peter is certainly a breath of fresh air, but is Pope Francis really up for a radical reform of the Catholic Church? A Christian historian admires his approach and ideals but is not yet convinced of the outcome
One of the marks of the Bergoglio pontificate is his popularity with the world’s media. When he stepped on to the balcony after his election, a star emerged. His gift, says a seasoned ITN newsreader, is his authenticity. But such early successes are nothing compared to the challenge ahead
One of the greatest crises that the Church was facing when Pope Francis was elected a year ago was its creaking form of governance. The new pontiff has made its reform one of his priorities. The key question is: how far is he willing to go in limiting his own powers?
Lent is a time to recover an undivided heart: a heart open to joy, to life, to love. It is a time for struggle against division: the division that is the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The escalating crisis in Ukraine has focused attention on a country torn by ethnic tensions and a violent history, which has also been largely ignored by the West.
Politicians have spent years arguing about welfare – and all the time the public’s support for it has waned. Here, experts on poverty and social security argue that only abandoning a means-tested system and re-creating a contributory one will work
As the world has become more globalised, so the imperative for the Churches to come together appears to have diminished. Speakers at a recent debate about the future of worldwide Christianity considered this apparent paradox
Revelations about the involvement of two senior Labour figures in an organisation that had links with a paedophile group have elicited very different responses from the politicians concerned. One has delivered a fulsome apology;
I began last month’s piece with praise for Sainsbury’s more imaginative choice, and will continue in that vein for a moment. Now it has added a lovely Gaillac perlé to the list, at £7.99.
Brian B. Pinter joins a pilgrimage along a new route that traces St Ignatius Loyola’s journey through his native Spain
Photography can help us look into the heart of Creation, as Janet and Peter Frymann found out when they took part in an unusual spiritual retreat in the warmth of southern Spain
Why do we go on pilgrimage? Peter Newsham makes a persuasive case for the holy journey in the modern age by considering the enduring power of two of the greatest Catholic shrines
Still the heart and soul of Orthodox Christian monasticism after 1,000 years, Mount Athos in Greece provides an ideal retreat for contemplation, writes Chris Deliso
Michael Johnstone volunteered with a mission among the forlorn and destitute in Jamaica, and found their work to be devotion in action
As Ukrainians prepare for polls in May to elect a new leader following the toppling of Viktor Yanukovych by pro-European protesters, a correspondent in Kiev describes how he witnessed the brutal folly of a petty criminal turned president bring about his own downfall
Religion is not the catalyst of the problem in Ukraine, but it is a key factor in how the battle has been, and continues to be, waged, writes Andrew Thomas Kania.
When the then Archbishop Vincent Nichols spoke of the disgrace of the impact that welfare reforms are having on the poorest citizens, he touched a nerve.
Marriage Care is a charity is at the forefront of the efforts to stem the rise in family breakdown. Its chief executive, Mark Molden, tells Christopher Lamb he combines a determination to halt the trend with an understanding of the pressures on couples
Today is the feast of David, the saint patron of Wales, and to mark it a three-day festival begins at the remote rural cathedral that bears his shrine. While the site was stripped and looted during the Reformation, it has now undergone a major revival
This is a tale of two flooded farms – the first being one of many whose land is submerged on the Somerset Levels in England’s West Country, the second being in the Po Valley, in northern Italy.
Scarcely a week passes when a story of a terminally ill person seeking the ‘right to die’ hits the headlines in Britain. But now Belgium is poised to allow physician-assisted suicide for children of all ages and the debate around the world has reached a new intensity
Archbishop Vincent Nichols knows he will have to ‘learn the ropes’ after getting a red hat today. He talks to Catherine Pepinster about some of the issues that will be close to his heart
Ukip once more proved it is a force to be reckoned with by pushing the Conservatives into third place in a by-election last week. It is credited with shifting the political ground rightwards, but can it reap prizes of its own in the bigger challenges to come?
Once it was seen as the party’s inheritance from Winston Churchill. Now human rights are the Conservative Party’s bête noire and likely to feature in its next election manifesto as part of a populist stance against European interference
Last week, this writer, a Jesuit priest and psychotherapist, warned that the handling of the clerical sex abuse crisis has been marred by too much focus on theology at the expense of understanding the human psyche. Here, he examines how violators should be rooted out
Conflict between different religious groups cannot be held solely responsible for the upheavals in the Middle East. Participants in the first Westminster Faith Debate of 2014 teased out key factors behind the headlines
“What good is God?” is the title of this year’s Bannan Institute programme at Santa Clara University, the Jesuit school in California’s Silicon Valley. This month it invited me to ask: why does science need God?
A new book about confession finds that the split between church teaching and practice on sexual morality is a major cause of the decline of the sacrament. But the fall-off, says its author, may also be linked to traumatising experiences in childhood
Once an avowed atheist, the award-winning poet Michael Symmons Roberts is now a Catholic. But as he picks up another prize for his latest collection, he tells Sue Gaisford that his work is still a constant dialogue between faith and doubt
Last month’s release of Blessed John Paul’s notebooks has been hailed as a media sensation by their Polish publisher, but behind the hype is his former secretary’s drive to raise funds for grandiose schemes to promote his master’s legacy
In the face of devastating criticism by a UN committee over its record of handling clerical sex abuse, the Church has veered from angry rebuttal to gentle correction. Yet there has never been a greater need for an unambiguous Catholic champion of the rights of the child
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests – known widely by its acronym, Snap – is one of the most vocal critics of the Church’s record on child abuse, but momentarily last week one of its members was visibly moved by a priest’s words, writes Elena Curti.
It was appropriate that the Holy See, and not the Vatican City, was treated as representing the entire Catholic Church when its representatives testified before the UN committee. Its ancient status is unique, though still frequently misunderstood, as an expert on diplomacy explains
The UN committee’s critique has refocused attention on the preparation of priests for the ministry. In the first of two articles, a priest-psychotherapist argues that the handling of the abuse crisis has been inhibited by a concentration on theology rather than an understanding of the human psyche
Amid Britain’s ever-growing prison population, the role of the chaplain remains vital, providing solidarity and friendship to inmates. Here, a former MP and government Minister released from jail last week recalls the simple humanity offered to him at a time of loneliness and loss
Anyone reading the broadsheets these days won’t have long to wait before they trip over the word “discourse”. The Guardian is full of stuff about “the climate discourse”; The Telegraph talks about “popular discourse” in Syria;
Catholic schools have long been criticised for failing to focus on poorer children. If this is the case, there is a way they can get extra government money for these pupils, as Jeremy Sutcliffe explains
Years of economic crises have left schools struggling to keep up standards with fewer teachers and crumbling infrastructure. Just how do they cope? With ever-greater dependence on support from parents, says Silvia Guzzetti in Italy
Catholic schools, like other maintained schools in England, are experiencing a shortage of school governors. Helen Pye reports on initiatives to improve recruitment and training
Even though Catholic school governors are crucial in promoting the Church’s mission, they are often ill-prepared for the task, argues educationalist Judith Russi
Close to half the number of universities offer language degrees than was the case 15 years ago. Angela Gallagher-Brett describes a programme aimed at halting the decline
I decided to do a Spanish degree because of the opportunities it opens up, writes Mattie Whitehead. Not only does speaking another language help you learn about new countries and new cultures,
More and more boarding schools are embracing the benefits of co-education. But what happens when romance blossoms between pupils? Isabel de Bertodano reports
His death last year went unnoticed but Hamish Swanston was one of the most colourful figures in Anglophone Catholicism. Church historian Eamon Duffy recalls a truly original thinker
The recent heavy rainfall has turned villages in the Somerset Levels into islands, with flooded rivers threatening homes and livelihoods. At the heart of these close-knit communities, the Anglican church at Muchelney has become ...
This year’s Winter Olympics held in a Black Sea resort are putting Russia’s record on human rights and corruption centre stage. Yet wanting though that record is, the Games will be the making of a more enlightened country, argues an experienced Moscow correspondent
The capital of Massachusetts was once synonymous with American Catholicism. That all changed with the sex-abuse crisis when disillusioned Catholics stayed away from Mass, outraged by scandal and cover-up. Now, it seems, the Church has undergone a remarkable renaissance in the city
With leading public figures discussing major ethical and religious issues of the day, the Westminster Faith Debates have been a sell-out success. As their third series begins, the man behind them tells James Macintyre why, as a non-believer, he thinks they matter so much
The coins of her realm still mention the title bestowed on Henry VIII by Leo X in 1521, before he broke with Rome: Fidei Defensor, or Defender of the Faith. Indeed, Elizabeth II, throughout her reign, has always defended Christianity.
Sainsbury's seems to have finally caught up with some of the other supermarkets in its discovery of Italian white wines, and on the shelves are a nice pecorino and a fiano, the former just under £7, the latter just over £5.
Cardinal-designate Gerhard Müller has insisted that remarried divorced Catholics should not receive Communion. A fellow cardinal accused him of thinking in black and white – like, he said, all German theology professors. Here, an academic in the field examines the charge
Swiss theologian Hans Küng was for decades critical of what he perceived as the authoritarian stance of the papacy and the Roman Curia. But in his new book he finds grounds for optimism in Pope Francis.
Just what might one of the world’s great atheist scientists and philosophers have in common with the Church? Quite a lot, as became clear when Noam Chomsky addressed a Vatican foundation that aims to promote dialogue between science and religion
Ireland has reversed its decision to cut ties with the Holy See by announcing the reopening of its embassy. There is no return, though, to a relationship of servility, says an Irish foreign affairs specialist ...
This week’s statistics showing that the UK economy grew by 1.9 per cent in 2013 are the latest indicator that a return to prosperity is under way. Our commentator, however, believes that the economic improvement is occurring in spite of, rather than because of, the Government’s policy
Setting about the annual marmalade making, there is a moment to consider sugar’s credible benefit. We forget about life before the refrigerator and freezer, when the only means of preserving fruit to obtain a supply of vitamin C in winter
Their churches are increasing in number and popularity in Britain, particularly among African migrants living in urban areas. If Catholic parishioners leave the pews to join Pentecostal services, should their priest regret it? Or adapt to be more like them?
The Catholic Church’s handling of child sex abuse was put under the spotlight last week at a hearing of the United Nations committee overseeing the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Afterwards, the Vatican’s representative to the UN in Geneva spoke to The Tablet
Modern technology and social networking have fuelled a compulsive ‘fear of missing out’ among many people, especially the young. Only when we discover that our real strength comes from within not without will we be truly free
As the Castro era draws to a close in the Caribbean republic, the signs are that the Catholic Church is thriving, that old hostilities between it and the state are being repaired and that the long-desired changes to society are beginning to take place
Many churches are in a unique position to help new businesses and charities with office space, expertise and networking opportunities, all within an ethical context. The founder of one groundbreaking initiative centred on Portsmouth’s cathedral shows how it can be done
One year ago this February, a 20-metre chunk of space rock hit the Earth over Chelyabinsk, Siberia. Shining brighter than the Sun, its fall was recorded by video cameras more than 400 miles away.
With last weekend’s list of the 19 men chosen to receive the red hat, Pope Francis made it clear that his reforms will encompass the College of Cardinals as well as the Curia. His choices, and the public letter he sent them, spell out that he wants his new men to embrace simplicity and humility
On 22 February, Pope Francis will confer the cardinal’s biretta on the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, marking the high point in an ecclesiastical journey that has seen him at the centre of the Church in England and Wales since the mid-1980s, writes Christopher Lamb.
A leading American Catholic philanthropist has claimed that Pope Francis’ remarks in his recent apostolic exhortation about unbridled capitalism is discouraging big donors from giving to the Church. Others say they breathe new life into the home of institutionalised charity
There are many reasons to be hopeful about the direction of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue but it is threatened by tensions emerging within the Orthodox Church. As the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity gets under way today, a leading ecumenist gives his assessment
A Comboni sister in the Holy Land has won praise around the world for her work with African asylum seekers. She has heard horrific stories about their treatment at the hands of kidnappers and traffickers but says that the experience has brought her closer to God
The thirteenth assembly of Latin America’s base communities last week found delegates in good heart, particularly as for the first time these mainly Catholic groups, rooted in the Second Vatican Council’s spirit of renewal, received a message of support from the Pope
When I used to train young reporters to write news stories, I advised them to employ “language such as men do use”, in Ben Jonson’s famous formula. Headlines, though, are different.
On Monday, the Vatican will host a brainstorming workshop on Syria, part of the Pope’s efforts to end the civil war in that country. Here a former diplomat and a moral theologian assess the extent of his influence and the Church’s peacemaking role
At the time of the Pope’s day of prayer for Syria on 7 September, most Catholic theologians who specialise in the ethics of war and peace, including Just War proponents and not only pacifists, regarded the US bombing of Syrian targets as morally unjustified, writes Tobias L. Winright
The life of the typical parish priest can be an isolated one. Some have pointed to the tragedy of the cleric who lay dead in his car in a supermarket car park for three days after Christmas as evidence that they are becoming increasingly alone. Here we test the theory
Three great polemicists – G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc and Maurice Baring – were active during the 1914-18 war. In various roles they were both influential and controversial, and in some cases prophetic, as a descendant of two of them recalls
With Britain in the vanguard, and the Vatican highlighting the plight of victims, progress is being made in the fight against slavery-like working conditions. But for two key British campaigners, there is only one person who can lead a truly global fight to free modern-day slaves: Pope Francis
Most people still only know about leprosy from Bible stories and mistakenly believe it has been eradicated. In fact, the disease is on the increase and is present in 120 countries.
Social work is, at best, suspicious of talk of spirituality, fearing proselytising; while, in the health service, the chaplaincy has, in some ways, absolved staff of concern for the spiritual needs of patients.
I hope that you found something good to pour at Christmas and New Year. It seems that prosecco has now overtaken Champagne sales in this country, and there did seem a lot of it about.
‘Most were driven by a sense of comradeship and community, values often ignored nowadays’
‘Few football nations have potentially more riding on the outcome of the World Cup’
‘If we weigh this blood and the tears, on which side will the scales fall?
‘Unpicking the threads of a three-century-old union would be acrimonious and disruptive for many’
‘So far, despite some Second World War ghosts, the will to stay together has proved stronger than the urge to move apart’
He was the room-mate of Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier and as integral as them to the founding of the Society of Jesus. But it’s taken nearly 400 years longer for him to be canonised – at the behest of a Jesuit pope
‘Can Francis of Rome … answer the summons of Christ to rebuild his Church?’
‘He was a tireless worker at the business of honing poems until they shone’
‘The Supreme Court decisions will impact on the life of the Church … for decades to come’
The year 2013 was when the carnivore came under the microscope. For once, the question was not the morals of eating meat at all, but which meat, and how?
In a shanty town of Buenos Aires works a priest who, like Pope Francis, follows Christ in his devotion to those who live on the edges of society. Padre Pepe, as he is known, remains close to his former archbishop and lives his vision of a poor Church for the poor
The masterpiece on the cover of this, from the workshop of Albrecht Dürer, shows a mother absorbed in love for her child. Yet, as Rosemary Crumlin writes, around them lurk symbols of the sorrow to come
Altruism and nostalgia continue to feature in some of the advertising campaigns of Britain’s biggest retailers at this time of comfort and joy. But something obvious is missing – and that’s down to some little-known rules and Adland’s own inhibitions
For many, God is elusive if not ineffable, yet there is a way that may draw us nearer to him. The creative arts mark out human civilisation and in their nurture they provide a path to a higher spiritual plane that can connect to the mystery of his presence
On Christmas Eve last year Alan Greaves said goodbye to his wife, Maureen, and his daughter and grandchildren, and left home for his local church. He would never return. Minutes later he was savagely attacked by two young men, and he died two days later in hospital.
A mother’s devotion to her newborn, as overwhelming as it is selfless, tells us much about our relationship with God. For Sally Read, these joys and trials capture the true spirit of the Feast of the Nativity
Our ordinary lives are touched by the divine far more than we know. Yet at certain moments the realisation breaks through vividly and perhaps dramatically, and we know for certain that God is here
Cabinet minister, the last Governor of Hong Kong, chancellor of Oxford University and chairman of the BBC Trust – it’s a golden career.
Following a recent visit to communities shattered by last month’s typhoon in the Philippines, the shadow International Development Secretary argues that help must be long-term ...
Pope Francis’ recent apostolic exhortation is a call to the faithful to put the most deprived at the heart of the faith community. Here, the Archbishop of Westminster describes how his diocese has made a priority of those who experience a want of spiritual as well as physical nourishment
The second of two articles in the lives of Palestinians on the West Bank looks at projects that are helping women break out of their traditional domestic roles and become breadwinners and decision-makers
Tomorrow is the Fourth Sunday in Advent. As we anticipate Christ’s coming, Richard Leonard SJ recalls his experience as a ‘birthing partner’ and the amazing graces that followed
In the cities of Europe and North America it is a problem on the rise with solutions that are piecemeal at best. Now a group of charities, inspired by the vision of St Vincent de Paul ...
The first of two articles marking the hundredth anniversary of the birth of women whose careers defined their arts in the twentieth century looks at Elizabeth David, ...
The film star Vivien Leigh, who would have celebrated her hundredth birthday next March, became close friends with the young actor Trader Faulkner through their shared experience of Catholicism
The visitors to the Bethlehem stable where the Christ Child lay came from the opposite ends of the social spectrum, but they were in some respects very similar to each other, says a theologian – and also similar to us
He decided to risk a fire. A few stunted bushes grew at the bottom of the ravine. Blundering into the night, for the first time in his life his hands plucked up wood without reading its grain and heft. He barely felt the thorns.
the first of December had barely arrived when I got our first request of the season for an interview about the star of Bethlehem.
New peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians have focused on security arrangements. Yet, as the first of our series reveals, for ordinary Palestinians in the occupied territories, human rights should top the agenda
Against the backdrop of a week of events to mark the death of South Africa’s first democratically elected president, culminating tomorrow with a state funeral to be held in his home village, one of the country’s Catholic bishops looks back at his achievements and what still remains to be done
As well as the secular and religious rituals marking the death of Nelson Mandela, a third group of African symbols emphasise the continuity of life rather than the finality of death and will induct Madiba into a category of “ancestorship” revered and venerated as founders of the nation
Measures recently rolled out to cap benefits and impose sanctions against those deemed unwilling to work are squeezing incomes and causing hardship, according to the head of a Catholic charity, who says her clients have become increasingly fearful for the future
Tomorrow is Gaudete Sunday, a day for rejoicing, and as Richard Leonard SJ explains in his third reflection, Christians have got every reason to celebrate
Stockings this Christmas will no doubt be bulging with the latest smartphones, to the concern of many worried about sourcing rare minerals essential for their manufacture and conditions for the workers who assemble them. But now there is an alternative
In the conflict in CAR, hundreds have been killed or abducted and thousands driven from their homes. The Church has responded by organising relief and lobbying for peace, but the hostilities are fast becoming a religious war between native Christians and foreign Muslim fighters
Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation challenges the Church to turn its face to the world, meet its challenges and refuse to be self-absorbed. It is a calling that his fellow members of the Society of Jesus will recognise, writes a leading Jesuit scholar
Having cautioned in the past against the proliferation of rows of pinot grigio on the supermarket shelves, I now find that I have to change my tune slightly.
Despite spending 27 isolated years in prison, Nelson Mandela chose the path of forgiveness, hope and reconciliation. That decision gave South Africa a vision for its own future, writes a vicar who met him several times in Cape Town
Chemin Neuf is a French Catholic movement with an ecumenical vocation that has grown rapidly since it was founded 40 years ago. Next month, four members will move into the Lambeth headquarters of the Archbishop of Canterbury and tomorrow they start running a large Catholic parish
Pope Francis’ new apostolic exhortation is a remarkable treatise of faith and purpose. Above all, says a church commentator, it is an endorsement for the laity, placing them in their rightful place alongside the priests. Yet some may still not be satisfied
What an intriguing coincidence that Pope Francis should have caused a stir with his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, while Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, should have come out with a diametrically opposite economic philosophy in what was billed as the Margaret Thatcher Lecture
She has been described by Rowan Williams as one of the world’s most compelling novelists. Last week, Pulitzer Prize-winner Marilynne Robinson was in London to discuss what is, essentially, the central concern of her fiction – religion in contemporary America
The Pilling Report on human sexuality, which was published last week, may not radically alter the Anglican position on homosexuality. But the way it has gone about studying the subject marks a willingness to engage with an issue now more divisive than that of women bishops
In his second reflection, Richard Leonard SJ considers the Christian ascetic tradition, and the pitfalls that can lie in wait for those who place penance before mercy and compassion
Latest efforts to anchor Ukraine in Europe have failed and for the time being at least the former Soviet satellite state is still looking to its old ally, Russia, as its main influence. It has a history of being buffeted between East and West. So where does its future lie?
i am a devotee of the Christmas fair, those places to find presents made in small batches; handmade clothes, food and household things that are truly original and beautiful.
Many lay Catholics taking part in the Vatican’s survey will have struggled with the questions concerning natural law and sex and relationships. Here, a theologian explains Aquinas’ thinking and dismisses some myths in the process
That’s how senior judge Sir Paul Coleridge sees the best marriages and why he wants to promote the institution. And as he told Abigail Frymann the emotional and financial cost of family break-up is too high a price to pay for both the people involved and society, too
Victims of injustice and the poor have found a champion in Pope Francis, who has spoken out against corruption in all its forms. But in doing so, he has made powerful enemies and, according to a seasoned observer, would be wise to adopt sensible precautions
From joy and hope to despair; from the role of the parish to the economy: Pope Francis’ first crafted papal document was released this week, and is as wide-ranging as predicted. Here we publish extracts from his apostolic exhortation
Inspired by the Philippines’ delegate at last week’s UN climate summit, whose passionate appeal and fast following Typhoon Haiyan set the tone for the conference, faith leaders are calling on people to fast for one day a month as part of a campaign to highlight global warming
Beginning this Sunday, Advent is a period of waiting – a waiting that includes reading the signs of God’s presence. Here the Australian Jesuit Richard Leonard, in the first of his reflections for the season, recalls an unexpected encounter
Two key Vatican figures, Archbishop Gerhard Müller and Cardinal Reinhard Marx, are openly at odds on one of the most neuralgic issues facing the Church. Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, staunchly argues that Catholics who divorce
Reinhard Marx, who turned 60 in September, is used to being the youngest among his peers, writes Christa Pongratz-Lippitt.
A decade on from the Church’s embracing of people with HIV and Aids, its work of meeting both physical and spiritual needs is more vital than ever as the number of people living with the virus increases, due in no small part to increased longevity made possible by medication
Chinese Communists have had an uneasy relationship with both the Catholic and Protestant faiths. But that is now changing as, against a backdrop of an ageing population and a distrust of secular charities, they welcome an expansion of the Churches’ provision of social care
Parishes report a surge in Mass attendance, inspired by Pope Francis. Commentators, even in the avowedly secular Guardian newspaper, praise his openness and humanity. But a vocal conservative minority are enraged by the new Pontiff and all he stands for
What are the things that make a person ‘spiritual’ and how can the search for spirituality become something profound and universally understood? These are questions that need answers in a society where material considerations dominate
The Year of Faith has ended with a man at the helm of the Catholic Church who is redefining the papacy and bringing it a new authenticity. It has profound consequences for personal belief, too
November is the month dedicated to Holy Souls and a time to pray especially for the dead. As well as contemplating mortality, there is much to interest the visitor to some of Britain’s historic cemeteries
Despite the political tensions, tens of thousands of pilgrims will be in Bethlehem this Christmas. Louise Cowley examines the evidence for the Church of the Nativity being the exact location where Christ was born
In a tranquil valley in the heart of Central Europe lies an ancient place of pilgrimage: a place of healing that anyone of faith should visit at least once, writes Nigel Baker
On her first retreat as a Catholic, Yolande Clarke reflects on her chosen path amid the blossoming flora and fauna of Brentwood Diocese’s House of Prayer
People looking for refuge or respite from the trials of the world have been drawn to the shores of Lake Garda for more than two millennia, writes Anthony Weaver
With personal experience of trying to cope with her son’s addiction to drugs and alcohol, Diana Hoar is impressed by the work of the Community of the Merciful Father in Medjugorje
The election of John F. Kennedy as the thirty-fifth President of the United States was a watershed for that country’s Catholics, but 50 years after his assassination, America is a very different place, with very different political battles fought over Catholicism
Once the dead have been buried and survivors’ immediate needs met, thoughts turn to restoring communities shattered by the most powerful typhoon on record that tore indiscriminately through town and country on the fragile islands of the Philippine archipelago
Yeb Sano had a simple message for fellow participants at a United Nations summit three days after Typhoon Haiyan struck his home in the central Philippines, writes Elena Curti.
Prisons Week and Prisoners’ Sunday focus attention on those given custodial sentences. This year, the aim is also to highlight the plight of the children of those in custody – children whose welfare is often neglected by the courts
Last week we presented the findings about sex, marriage and the family from three new surveys of Catholic opinion. This week, we reveal that as the days of mass churchgoing and obedience to doctrine decline, new patterns of Catholic belonging are emerging
Following last week’s article by theologian Karen Kilby, we continue the discussion sparked by Pope Francis’ call for a new theology of women. Here, a philosophical theologian urges all should be heard, especially the poorest
Minimal, dramatic, melodic, some pieces appearing fully formed in the time it takes to perform them. The Tablet’s music critic offers an appreciation of the work of John Tavener, Britain’s most popular classical composer, who died this week
The Pope’s unerring ability to keep the Church on its toes was evident in his announcement last week of a consistory next February – leaving months for potential candidates for appointments as cardinals not only to be speculated about, but prove their worthiness.
William Wilberforce’s words ring as true today as they did two centuries ago, with slavery on the rise around the globe. Here two campaigners working in Parliament to end the trade write of their own efforts and of the work being done in the Vatican at the behest of Pope Francis
Catholic bishops in America have often been confrontational in their encounters with the rest of society, especially government. With mutterings of discontent from some about the new Pope, will their first gathering since Francis’ election see a mellowing in their approach?
The Catholic Church is beginning a process to find out what Catholics think about matters surrounding the family – issues like divorce, cohabitation, same-sex relationships, contraception and the raising of children.
The Church’s worldwide consultation in advance of the synod to discuss the pastoral challenges of the family may be wide-ranging, but it is not scientific. Here, we exclusively reveal the surprising results of just such a properly controlled analysis
The Church has moved on from the days when it viewed women as innately inferior to men yet they still cannot be ordained, let alone achieve high office, in it. So what might a new theology of women look like, given Pope Francis has called for one?
The days when having a priest in the family was a common experience are fast disappearing in Ireland. Here, the nephew of a cleric says a fond farewell to his uncle – and to a way of life
Last month I suggested a number of wines from Marks & Spencer that were probably quite difficult to trace, available only in their largest of stores.
The battles within the German hierarchy over Communion for remarried divorcees and episcopal expenses do not simply express local tensions, but are critical issues for the whole Church. How Francis addresses them could define his papacy
The countdown has begun to the orderly exit of British troops from the Middle Eastern country after 445 British lives lost and millions spent during 12 years of international efforts to stabilise the region and to counter terrorism. But questions remain about whether the venture was justified
When Mgr Leo Cushley was chosen as the new Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, he was pictured with a street atlas of Scotland’s capital city. Four weeks into his new job, he is finding his way after a tumultuous year, as he explained to The Tablet’s editor, Catherine Pepinster
The past six years have seen financiers and corporate leaders, especially in London, vilified over their lack of concern for workers, customers and clients. Can Christianity help shape a more acceptable form of capitalism?
The coexistence inside Vatican City of Pope Francis, the current Bishop of Rome, and Benedict XVI, his retired predecessor, may not be as peaceful as depicted these past few months, writes Robert Mickens.
After her death in 1957, the Carmelite Blessed Maria Crocifissa Curcio was all but forgotten beyond the community she founded outside Rome, until one poet, through a shocking discovery at her daughter’s school, learned of the nun’s extraordinary writing...
Albert Camus was one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers, remembered for his existentialism and a seeming rejection of God. Yet, a century on from his birth, study of his work shows a man fascinated by Christ and impressed by sacrifice and solidarity
When food manufacturers make a pledge to reduce the saturated fat in the food they produce – think chocolates, doughnuts and pies – it ought to be news that we welcome.
Sikhs and Seventh Day Adventists are among many faith groups applying to set up free schools. But, as Jeremy Sutcliffe reports, the current model has very limited appeal for the Catholic Church
Africa is the continent where Catholicism is growing fastest. Here, in the first of two interviews with leaders of the Church there, the Provincial of the Jesuits in East Africa, Fr Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator SJ, tells Christopher Lamb about his background in traditional religion and how he sees the future role of the continent in the worldwide Church
After many years as an anti-apartheid campaigner, Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg has in recent years been battling against HIV and Aids. In London for the church mission charity Missio, he told Abigail Frymann about his work and why he is heartened by the election of Pope Francis
Next Monday is the 110th anniversary of the birth of Evelyn Waugh. In tribute, a fellow novelist takes the role of Devil's advocate to weigh before an imaginary Congregation for the Causes of Saints the case for the canonisation of Waugh's tragic hero Sebastian Flyte
The Archbishop of Westminster’s initiative to promote business ethics was due to hold its second conference this week. Here one of the speakers reflects on how trust in the free market can be restored
Our Moon has a new moon: a small artificial satellite called Ladee – the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
When I attended Holy Cross Convent in New Malden, Surrey, from 1971 to 1978, my history teacher was Doreen Fowler, writes Siobhain McDonagh.
A new initiative from the United States to encourage fathers to spend time reading with their children every day is paying handsome educational dividends, as Jeremy Davies explains
Every other year Catholic sixth-formers travel from Greater Manchester to work with young pupils at their sister Loreto schools in Kolkata. Religious education teacher Gráinne O’Hagan describes what is invariably a life-changing experience
One of the world’s oldest Jesuit institutions, Heythrop College in London, is preparing to celebrate four centuries of life next year. Church historian Michael Walsh traces its distinguished history
More and more religious orders now offer online courses sharing their spirituality and heritage. Johan Bergström-Allen browses the mendicant, monastic and other resources available at the click of a mouse
The college: St Joseph’s is co-educational and has 1,240 pupils aged between 11 and 18.
The Mediterranean is fast becoming a cemetery, the prime minister of Malta said last weekend after another boat laden with migrants capsized. Here an Italian MP and member of the Sant’Egidio community demands urgent reform to the European policy on migrants and refugees
Archbishop Bernard Longley, a leading figure in inter-church dialogue, has said that a further relaxation of the rules regarding intercommunion, including eucharistic sharing, would be a sign of deeper shared understanding of the sacrament. Here, two ecumenists give their views
One of the problems with talk about new developments in the life of the Church is that many people remain unaware of the significant changes and permissions that are already in place, writes Kevin McDonald.
Creating a law concerning abortion is a vexed issue in Ireland, where the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act was passed last summer, while the Catholic Church objected. Future battles over what the law really says will determine what it means
She is the City’s enforcer, the woman who takes on the rogues. Tracey McDermott, head of the new Financial Conduct Authority, talks to Chris Blackhurst about the cleaned-up City of London and the values instilled by her Catholic childhood
IT WAS the late Max Bygraves who used to say, “I wanna tell you a story”. These days everyone has a story to tell – individuals, institutions, businesses, political parties – but the word they often prefer is “narrative”.
There are only six novices among the communities of the English Benedictine Congregation. With numbers rapidly shrinking, the monks are focusing on vocations and going back to basics to identify their unique contribution to the Church
Every week, a case emerges of a child who has been beaten or starved to death by a parent. The authorities routinely pledge that lessons will be learned from these all-too-frequent tragedies. So why do they appear endlessly to repeat themselves?
Against the odds, Mary Ward founded two religious orders in an age when being a Catholic in England was highly dangerous and being a woman leader was anathema to the Church. Now her original convent has a plan to tell her story more effectively
It is difficult caring for people in the last stages of dementia when all sense of the person’s identity appears lost. But God’s grace is present even in this situation if only it is sought, and being in the presence of sufferers can reveal a window to a more profound truth
An inquiry ordered by the Bishop of Northampton to determine whether a cause should be launched for the canonisation of G.K. Chesterton is already provoking strong passions. A fellow journalist and admirer argues ardently against any such cause
The Pope has urged the Catholic Church to be a field hospital, healing people’s wounds. His remark could easily be applied to the work being done in parts of the developing world – work which is often not acknowledged because of its controversial nature.
A month, if not a week, is a long time in politics. It may seem quixotic to display any optimism in the wake of the atrocious murders in Nairobi and the under-reported but no less shocking bomb attack on Christians in Peshawar, but we were in a far worse place only a few weeks ago.
As David Cameron this week wound up the last of the season’s party conferences, a veteran political observer reflects on the death of the set-piece ‘big speech’, driven from the platform by the short sharp snap of the focus-grouped sound bite
The eight members of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals – the ‘C8’ as they are already becoming known – got round the table with him for the first time this week.
Pope Francis’ appetite for engagement is now well known. In his latest interview – with Eugenio Scalfari, the Italian atheist commentator and founder of La Repubblica – he makes plain his vision of the Church
So we are guilty. It is hard, when you hear climate change talked of as being “man-made”, not to take it personally. We did it; our motors and factory chimneys, their emissions and their pollutants.
Recent warm days bring to an end one of the best years for butterflies in Britain for some time. But though an inspiration to poets and philosophers, their abundance belies a deeper uncertainty about our changing climate