Latest Issue: 18 October 2014
18 October 2014
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16 October 2014 by Christopher Lamb

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

16 October 2014

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

16 October 2014 by Austen Ivereigh

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

16 October 2014 by Vicky Cosstick

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

16 October 2014 by Robert Vitillo

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

16 October 2014 by Michael Paul Gallagher

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

16 October 2014 by John Morrish

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”.

Previous issues

09 October 2014 by Christopher Lamb

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

09 October 2014 by Holly Tylor Coolman

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

09 October 2014 by Peter Tyler

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

09 October 2014 by Mary Colwell

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

09 October 2014 by Francis McDonagh

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

09 October 2014 by Nicholas Boyle

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

09 October 2014 by Julia Langdon

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

09 October 2014 by John Morrish

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.

02 October 2014 by Elena Curti

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

02 October 2014 by Julia Langdon

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

02 October 2014 by Massimo Faggioli

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

02 October 2014 by Melanie McDonagh

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

02 October 2014 by Rose Prince

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.

25 September 2014 by Jan De Volder

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

25 September 2014 by John Haldane

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

25 September 2014 by Liz Dodd

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

25 September 2014 by Margaret A. Farley

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

25 September 2014 by Julia Langdon

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

25 September 2014 by Stephen Bates

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

25 September 2014 by Jack Valero

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

25 September 2014 by Guy Consolmagno

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.

18 September 2014 by Christopher Lamb

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

18 September 2014 by Nicholas King

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

18 September 2014 by Chris Ryder

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

18 September 2014 by Rober Fox

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

18 September 2014 by Marcus Tanner

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

18 September 2014 by Daniel O’Leary

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

18 September 2014 by Jonathan Tulloch

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

18 September 2014 by Patrick Nicholson

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

18 September 2014 by Jeremy Cain and Anne Marie Lavelle

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

18 September 2014 by Jeremy Sutcliffe

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

18 September 2014 by Peter and Charlotte Vardy

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

18 September 2014 by Zoë Bennett

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

18 September 2014 by Isabel de Bertodano

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

18 September 2014 by John Morrish

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.

18 September 2014 by Mary McAleese

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.