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Breaking news and opinion from the online edition of Britain's leading Catholic newspaper

Latest Episodes

PODCAST: What next for the endangered Christians of Syria and Egypt?

This month has witnessed dramatic events in both Syria and Egypt. US president Donald Trump launched a missile attack on Syria while shocking attacks on Christian churches in Egypt took place on Palm Sunday. Since then ISIS have claimed responsibility for an attack on an Egyptian police checkpoint near Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai. What is the current situation for Christians in Syria and Egypt who much of the world seem to have forgotten? Will US military action against President Assad benefit them and why is Pope Francis still resolved to visit Egypt at such an unstable time? Finally, how can Catholics use the forthcoming General Election to help persecuted Christians? I spoke to John Pontifex of the charity Aid to the Church in Need to discuss the latest events in Syria and Egypt and the impact on endangered Christians living there.

18 MIN2017 APR 22
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PODCAST: What next for the endangered Christians of Syria and Egypt?

Why Ireland needs more Rome, not less

Pope Francis is due to visit Ireland in August 2018. His trip will probably include a historic journey north of the border. But what he is likely to find is that Irish Catholicism remains in serious long-term decline. Years of scandal have led to dwindling congregations, an increasingly hostile public climate and a Church that seems to have no clear idea of how to turn its fortunes around. Francis’s personal popularity and celebrity should draw substantial crowds. But enormous crowds turned out for Pope John Paul II on his 1979 visit, and what seemed to be an affirmation of Ireland’s Catholic identity proved in retrospect to be the last hurrah of old-style Irish Catholicism. This papal visit will be following more than 20 years of decline. The last three Irish cardinals – Cahal Daly, Desmond Connell and Seán Brady – have all been tarnished by proximity to clerical abuse scandals. The widely respected abuse survivor Marie Collins has recently resigned from the papal commission d...

13 MIN2017 MAR 30
Comments
Why Ireland needs more Rome, not less

The new population bomb

At the end of last month a three-day workshop was held in the Vatican on the sombre topic of “Biological Extinction”. The event was jointly sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, and reflected Pope Francis’s curious personal penchant for environmental alarmism. Among the participants was the notorious population control enthusiast Paul Ehrlich, who had predicted in 1968 that hundreds of millions would starve to death in the 1970s and that England might well not make it to the millennium. Ehrlich has not been much chastened by the failure of his prophecies. Nor is he a friend of the Catholic Church. In a book published as recently as 2014, he describes “the Pope [he may have been referring to Benedict XVI] and many of the bishops” as “one of the truly evil, regressive forces on the planet”. Ehrlich is also well known for his support over the years for mass sterilisation, contraception and abortion. But the presence of an ...

11 MIN2017 MAR 16
Comments
The new population bomb

PODCAST: On Retreat with Bishop Mark Davies

Welcome to the next episode in our series, On Retreat, in whichwe invite gueststo reflect on their life and journey of faith. They tell us where their ideal retreat would take place and which piece of spiritual music, Bible Passage and life of the saint they would take with them. Our pilgrim today is Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury who has chosen to go on retreat to any Catholic church in the world “where I can be close to the tabernacle.” The intention he is bringing with him is to be a faithful priest “in the greatest and fullest sense.” Bishop Mark Davies is the 11th Bishop of Shrewsbury Diocese. He was raised by devout Catholic parents and was first approached about entering the priesthood when he was only 12 years old. He is renowned for his gentle but outspoken style, especially surrounding gender ideology, traditional marriage and the persecution of Christians. Bishop Mark Davies’ selections include… Aid to prayer: Rosary given to his father by Pope Benedict XVI Life o...

32 MIN2017 MAR 13
Comments
PODCAST: On Retreat with Bishop Mark Davies

A beautiful Church for the poor

It is no secret that Catholic worship has become less beautiful. JF Powers, the impish Catholic writer, counted as dear friends many artists who were enthusiastic about liturgical reform at the time of Vatican II. As much as he loved and admired them, he could not approve their work. When he attended Mass at St John’s University in Minnesota, then a centre of reformist ferment, he would sit where the acoustics were worst, in order to minimise the sensory assault of the new church his friends were so earnestly singing into being. Catholics assert the coincidence of truth, goodness and beauty. It should not surprise us, then, that at the same time Gregorian chant gave way to the guitar Mass, Catholic truth seemed to lose its splendour, suffering mockery and challenge on every side. Nor should it surprise that this crisis in the Church’s worship and teaching has coincided with an utter collapse in the Church’s ministry to the poor. The ethicist H Richard Niebuhr called sects that ap...

15 MIN2017 FEB 23
Comments
A beautiful Church for the poor

The world’s biggest charity

Stalin famously said of the Church, “The Pope! How many divisions has he?” Less well known is Churchill’s response that Stalin “might have mentioned a number of legions not always visible on parade”. Indeed, the reach and influence of the Church are not easily described by statistics alone, yet the raw statistics are staggering enough. The Church operates more than 140,000 schools, 10,000 orphanages, 5,000 hospitals and some 16,000 other health clinics. Caritas, the umbrella organisation for Catholic aid agencies, estimates that spending by its affiliates totals between £2 billion and £4 billion, making it one of the biggest aid agencies in the world. Even these numbers only tell half the tale. Caritas does not include development spending by a host of religious orders and other Catholic charities, while most of the 200,000 Catholic parishes around the world operate their own small-scale charitable projects which are never picked up in official figures. Establishing like-for-...

12 MIN2017 FEB 16
Comments
The world’s biggest charity

My Vatican journey

Through the centre of Siena runs the ancient pilgrimage route known as the Via Francigena, which begins in Canterbury and ends in Rome. Last summer, while studying Italian in Siena, I explored the route and saw the churches and hostels that had sprung up in the city for pilgrims during the Middle Ages. From Siena, the Via Francigena winds its way south through the towns of the Val d’Orcia, following the route taken by Sigeric, the Archbishop of Canterbury, more than 1,000 years ago after he had received his pallium from the Pope. Many of the churches and abbeys on Sigeric’s itinerary are still there, enabling us to imagine what it must have been like for 10th-century British pilgrims travelling to Rome. My own journey to Rome took place last August when I arrived to take up my job as Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Holy See. Although diplomatic relations were only restored with the Holy See in 1914 (and the mission only became a full embassy in 1982), the Via Francigena reminds u...

13 MIN2017 FEB 9
Comments
My Vatican journey

PODCAST: Is secularism losing its grip on France?

This week I interviewed Samuel Gregg following his cover story on the decline in secular influence in France. Samuel writes: “Given French politics’ hitherto decidedly secular character, there was always going to be a backlash from across the political spectrum against Fillon’s stance. What has been truly noteworthy, however, is the sheer feebleness of this reaction.” Is the secular left losing its power and influence on France? Is the Church becoming more vocal in the national debate? I spoke to Samuel Gregg to find out more: 0:57: A short history of France’s attitude to speaking about faith in public 3:59: Is Fillon’s willingness to talk about God politically risky? 7:22: Why are French voters turned off by Government agendas concerning sexuality and gender? 10:11 France and the family 11:35 What is Francois Fillon’s attitude to Islamic extremism? 14:50 Is Francois Fillon going to pull out of the presidential race?

16 MIN2017 FEB 4
Comments
PODCAST: Is secularism losing its grip on France?

PODCAST: Jacob Rees-Mogg goes on retreat

Our pilgrim today is Jacob Rees-Mogg, Conservative MP for North-East Somerset, who has chosen to go on retreat to Downside Abbey. Jacob is a Catholic MP who is renowned for his traditional and conservative style. He was catechised by his governess and has been referred to as the “Honourable member for the early twentieth century” who once famously went canvassing with his nanny. He was a leading voice in the 2016 campaign for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union but today he takes a step back from politics and talks more about his Catholic faith and the challenges it presents. While on retreat, Jacob has chosen to take with him: Life of the Saint: St Alphege Book of the Bible: Ecclesiastes Piece of music: Monteverde’s Salve Regina Aid to prayer: Rosary beads

32 MIN2017 FEB 3
Comments
PODCAST: Jacob Rees-Mogg goes on retreat

PODCAST: What does Donald Trump’s inauguration mean for Christians?

Today, at noon, America and the rest of the world will watch the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump. For some, ten weeks after the election result, witnessing the arrival of Mr Trump in the Whitehouse will be painful to watch while for other American citizens it will be a powerful demonstration that the liberal order, which dominated for the past eight years, has finally and thankfully crumbled. But where does the inauguration of Donald Trump leave Christians? Matthew Schmitz, literary editor of First Things is here to shed some light. Matthew writes in our cover story this week, “If Trump looks like an angel to some, to others he appears to be the Devil incarnate. For them, the picture of Cardinal Timothy Dolan cosying up to Donald Trump is equivalent to a bishop blessing the Third Reich.” 1:25 How are different groups of US Catholics responding to Trump? 3:30 What do pro-lifers want from Donald Trump? What did he promise them? 7:05 “The most i...

17 MIN2017 JAN 20
Comments
PODCAST: What does Donald Trump’s inauguration mean for Christians?

Latest Episodes

PODCAST: What next for the endangered Christians of Syria and Egypt?

This month has witnessed dramatic events in both Syria and Egypt. US president Donald Trump launched a missile attack on Syria while shocking attacks on Christian churches in Egypt took place on Palm Sunday. Since then ISIS have claimed responsibility for an attack on an Egyptian police checkpoint near Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai. What is the current situation for Christians in Syria and Egypt who much of the world seem to have forgotten? Will US military action against President Assad benefit them and why is Pope Francis still resolved to visit Egypt at such an unstable time? Finally, how can Catholics use the forthcoming General Election to help persecuted Christians? I spoke to John Pontifex of the charity Aid to the Church in Need to discuss the latest events in Syria and Egypt and the impact on endangered Christians living there.

18 MIN2017 APR 22
Comments
PODCAST: What next for the endangered Christians of Syria and Egypt?

Why Ireland needs more Rome, not less

Pope Francis is due to visit Ireland in August 2018. His trip will probably include a historic journey north of the border. But what he is likely to find is that Irish Catholicism remains in serious long-term decline. Years of scandal have led to dwindling congregations, an increasingly hostile public climate and a Church that seems to have no clear idea of how to turn its fortunes around. Francis’s personal popularity and celebrity should draw substantial crowds. But enormous crowds turned out for Pope John Paul II on his 1979 visit, and what seemed to be an affirmation of Ireland’s Catholic identity proved in retrospect to be the last hurrah of old-style Irish Catholicism. This papal visit will be following more than 20 years of decline. The last three Irish cardinals – Cahal Daly, Desmond Connell and Seán Brady – have all been tarnished by proximity to clerical abuse scandals. The widely respected abuse survivor Marie Collins has recently resigned from the papal commission d...

13 MIN2017 MAR 30
Comments
Why Ireland needs more Rome, not less

The new population bomb

At the end of last month a three-day workshop was held in the Vatican on the sombre topic of “Biological Extinction”. The event was jointly sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, and reflected Pope Francis’s curious personal penchant for environmental alarmism. Among the participants was the notorious population control enthusiast Paul Ehrlich, who had predicted in 1968 that hundreds of millions would starve to death in the 1970s and that England might well not make it to the millennium. Ehrlich has not been much chastened by the failure of his prophecies. Nor is he a friend of the Catholic Church. In a book published as recently as 2014, he describes “the Pope [he may have been referring to Benedict XVI] and many of the bishops” as “one of the truly evil, regressive forces on the planet”. Ehrlich is also well known for his support over the years for mass sterilisation, contraception and abortion. But the presence of an ...

11 MIN2017 MAR 16
Comments
The new population bomb

PODCAST: On Retreat with Bishop Mark Davies

Welcome to the next episode in our series, On Retreat, in whichwe invite gueststo reflect on their life and journey of faith. They tell us where their ideal retreat would take place and which piece of spiritual music, Bible Passage and life of the saint they would take with them. Our pilgrim today is Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury who has chosen to go on retreat to any Catholic church in the world “where I can be close to the tabernacle.” The intention he is bringing with him is to be a faithful priest “in the greatest and fullest sense.” Bishop Mark Davies is the 11th Bishop of Shrewsbury Diocese. He was raised by devout Catholic parents and was first approached about entering the priesthood when he was only 12 years old. He is renowned for his gentle but outspoken style, especially surrounding gender ideology, traditional marriage and the persecution of Christians. Bishop Mark Davies’ selections include… Aid to prayer: Rosary given to his father by Pope Benedict XVI Life o...

32 MIN2017 MAR 13
Comments
PODCAST: On Retreat with Bishop Mark Davies

A beautiful Church for the poor

It is no secret that Catholic worship has become less beautiful. JF Powers, the impish Catholic writer, counted as dear friends many artists who were enthusiastic about liturgical reform at the time of Vatican II. As much as he loved and admired them, he could not approve their work. When he attended Mass at St John’s University in Minnesota, then a centre of reformist ferment, he would sit where the acoustics were worst, in order to minimise the sensory assault of the new church his friends were so earnestly singing into being. Catholics assert the coincidence of truth, goodness and beauty. It should not surprise us, then, that at the same time Gregorian chant gave way to the guitar Mass, Catholic truth seemed to lose its splendour, suffering mockery and challenge on every side. Nor should it surprise that this crisis in the Church’s worship and teaching has coincided with an utter collapse in the Church’s ministry to the poor. The ethicist H Richard Niebuhr called sects that ap...

15 MIN2017 FEB 23
Comments
A beautiful Church for the poor

The world’s biggest charity

Stalin famously said of the Church, “The Pope! How many divisions has he?” Less well known is Churchill’s response that Stalin “might have mentioned a number of legions not always visible on parade”. Indeed, the reach and influence of the Church are not easily described by statistics alone, yet the raw statistics are staggering enough. The Church operates more than 140,000 schools, 10,000 orphanages, 5,000 hospitals and some 16,000 other health clinics. Caritas, the umbrella organisation for Catholic aid agencies, estimates that spending by its affiliates totals between £2 billion and £4 billion, making it one of the biggest aid agencies in the world. Even these numbers only tell half the tale. Caritas does not include development spending by a host of religious orders and other Catholic charities, while most of the 200,000 Catholic parishes around the world operate their own small-scale charitable projects which are never picked up in official figures. Establishing like-for-...

12 MIN2017 FEB 16
Comments
The world’s biggest charity

My Vatican journey

Through the centre of Siena runs the ancient pilgrimage route known as the Via Francigena, which begins in Canterbury and ends in Rome. Last summer, while studying Italian in Siena, I explored the route and saw the churches and hostels that had sprung up in the city for pilgrims during the Middle Ages. From Siena, the Via Francigena winds its way south through the towns of the Val d’Orcia, following the route taken by Sigeric, the Archbishop of Canterbury, more than 1,000 years ago after he had received his pallium from the Pope. Many of the churches and abbeys on Sigeric’s itinerary are still there, enabling us to imagine what it must have been like for 10th-century British pilgrims travelling to Rome. My own journey to Rome took place last August when I arrived to take up my job as Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Holy See. Although diplomatic relations were only restored with the Holy See in 1914 (and the mission only became a full embassy in 1982), the Via Francigena reminds u...

13 MIN2017 FEB 9
Comments
My Vatican journey

PODCAST: Is secularism losing its grip on France?

This week I interviewed Samuel Gregg following his cover story on the decline in secular influence in France. Samuel writes: “Given French politics’ hitherto decidedly secular character, there was always going to be a backlash from across the political spectrum against Fillon’s stance. What has been truly noteworthy, however, is the sheer feebleness of this reaction.” Is the secular left losing its power and influence on France? Is the Church becoming more vocal in the national debate? I spoke to Samuel Gregg to find out more: 0:57: A short history of France’s attitude to speaking about faith in public 3:59: Is Fillon’s willingness to talk about God politically risky? 7:22: Why are French voters turned off by Government agendas concerning sexuality and gender? 10:11 France and the family 11:35 What is Francois Fillon’s attitude to Islamic extremism? 14:50 Is Francois Fillon going to pull out of the presidential race?

16 MIN2017 FEB 4
Comments
PODCAST: Is secularism losing its grip on France?

PODCAST: Jacob Rees-Mogg goes on retreat

Our pilgrim today is Jacob Rees-Mogg, Conservative MP for North-East Somerset, who has chosen to go on retreat to Downside Abbey. Jacob is a Catholic MP who is renowned for his traditional and conservative style. He was catechised by his governess and has been referred to as the “Honourable member for the early twentieth century” who once famously went canvassing with his nanny. He was a leading voice in the 2016 campaign for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union but today he takes a step back from politics and talks more about his Catholic faith and the challenges it presents. While on retreat, Jacob has chosen to take with him: Life of the Saint: St Alphege Book of the Bible: Ecclesiastes Piece of music: Monteverde’s Salve Regina Aid to prayer: Rosary beads

32 MIN2017 FEB 3
Comments
PODCAST: Jacob Rees-Mogg goes on retreat

PODCAST: What does Donald Trump’s inauguration mean for Christians?

Today, at noon, America and the rest of the world will watch the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump. For some, ten weeks after the election result, witnessing the arrival of Mr Trump in the Whitehouse will be painful to watch while for other American citizens it will be a powerful demonstration that the liberal order, which dominated for the past eight years, has finally and thankfully crumbled. But where does the inauguration of Donald Trump leave Christians? Matthew Schmitz, literary editor of First Things is here to shed some light. Matthew writes in our cover story this week, “If Trump looks like an angel to some, to others he appears to be the Devil incarnate. For them, the picture of Cardinal Timothy Dolan cosying up to Donald Trump is equivalent to a bishop blessing the Third Reich.” 1:25 How are different groups of US Catholics responding to Trump? 3:30 What do pro-lifers want from Donald Trump? What did he promise them? 7:05 “The most i...

17 MIN2017 JAN 20
Comments
PODCAST: What does Donald Trump’s inauguration mean for Christians?
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