Who do you think is the living Catholic doing the most to change the way we imagine ourselves and understand the world? Here is our selection of 50 men and women who are making waves and recalibrating disciplines, and adding some Catholic salt to the contemporary cultural soup
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Born 1977, Enugu, Nigeria. Writer.
Adichie grew up in an Igbo family in the university town of Nsukka, in Enugu State. Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, begins with a nod to Chinua Achebe: “Things began to fall apart at home when my brother, Jaja, did not go to Communion and Papa flung his heavy missal across the room and broke the figurines on the étagère.”
When Adichie was young, she wished she could be a priest. “The priest would sweep in in his long soutane, and you cleared the way because Father was coming. I wanted that! I wanted the power. But it was a beautiful kind of power … I had dangerous ideas as a child.”
Born 1959, London. Priest and theologian.
In Faith Beyond Resentment: Fragments Catholic and Gay Alison describes his family background as “conservative middle-class English evangelical Protestant”. Like his father, Michael Alison, Conservative MP and Margaret Thatcher’s Parliamentary Private Secretary, he was educated at Eton and Oxford.
He became a Catholic at the age of 18 and a Dominican four years later in 1981. He wrote his dissertation under the supervision of the Jesuit faculty in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He left the Dominicans in 1995 but remains a priest.