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February 16th 2018

How despots exploit Vatican foreign policy

The Holy See is doing little to challenge authoritarian regimes

I was particularly fond of the sitcom Frasier, still screening on Channel 4 (and first thing in the morning!)…

‘We are all not worthy’

The man sitting a few feet away from me – spry and youthful for his 68 years, polite, unflappable – does not look like a firebrand…
A teacher friend of mine recently said, when talking to one of his students about the Reformation, “What do you know already?” He was expecting answers about Henry VIII wanting to get divorced, or the Catholic Church being so wealthy at the expense of the faithful…
Seventy-five years ago, on February 18, 1943, Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie were caught distributing anti-Nazi leaflets in Munich University…

Traditionalists have changed

I am a product of the traditionalist movement…

The troll war on Bartholomew

The Russian Orthodox Church, only recently on its knees after 70 years of atheist rule, has not only gained hundreds of thousands of new adherents since the demise of the Soviet system, it has also surged in prestige and confidence, basking in the favour publicly bestowed on it by President Vladimir Putin…

The Vatican’s diplomatic tangles

Vietnam Under the Diem regime, Catholicism was the de facto state religion of South Vietnam…
The biblical scholarship of the Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson is one of several reasons why he is one of the most original voices to emerge in the global marketplace for ideas…

The ambiguity of Cardinal Marx

Since same-sex marriage became law in Germany last October, the country’s Catholic bishops have struggled to find a way to deal with a situation where the legal definition of marriage – and that supported by public opinion – cannot be reconciled with the Catholic understanding of marriage…
Glancing up from cooking the kids’ tea, I noticed something going awry over in the corner…
Writer-director Andrey Zvyagintsev has emerged over the past decade as the agonised conscience of Putin’s Russia, uniquely attuned to the state’s hypocrisies and the follies of his fellow man…
Philip Glass’s Satyagraha is an opera about Gandhi, sort of…
The Mercy (★★★,12A, 102 mins) is a film about a man who is first trapped in a dream, and then in a lie, and one watches it with a kind of queasy, vicarious anxiety…
David Hare’s new four-part drama Collateral arrived on the BBC this week, the kind of prestige production that it’s a critic’s non-negotiable duty to pass judgment on…
I fell sound asleep for about 10 minutes during the most recent instalment of the Star Wars franchise, The Last Jedi…
The Only Story by Julian Barnes, Jonathan Cape, 224pp, £17 In 1960s Surrey, teenager Paul meets Susan Macleod, a 48-year-old married mother of two, at his local tennis club, and the two begin a romantic relationship which is to last more than a decade…
Secularism by Andrew Copson, OUP, 153pp, £12.99 “The case for secularism,” writes Copson, “is fairly simple.” The goals usually include a separation of religious and state institutions, freedom of thought and conscience, and a distaste for discrimination on grounds of belief…
Mystery of the Magi: The Quest to Identify the Three Wise Men by Dwight Longenecker, Regnery History, 320pp, £17.99 For all those who dismiss the story of the Magi as a fairy tale, Fr Dwight Longenecker has produced a lively, well-researched and fascinating book that separates the truth from the legends and makes a convincing case for concluding that “the wise men were Nabatean courtiers on horseback, travelling a few hundred miles to Jerusalem on their own well-travelled trade routes.” This is not to debunk the myths so much as to give them a real historical underpinning and background…
Crucible of Faith by Philip Jenkins, Basic Books, 320pp £23.99 “Barely acknowledged in historical writing, still less in popular perceptions.” Such, according to Professor Philip Jenkins, has been the fate of the intertestamental period, the time between the end of the era covered by the Hebrew Bible and the period in which the events of the New Testament took place and were written down…

Faith and superstition

The power of a subordinate clause; one nuance within a sentence and everything takes on a different meaning…