Catholics of my generation, brought up in the faith before the Second Vatican Council, often went to confession weekly, and never less than monthly, as did our parents and grandparents. Today, the majority of Catholics in many parts of the world have stopped going to confession regularly.
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If the state grants itself power over the press now, for the first time since 1695, then power over digital would follow. It is technologically possible; China is the world leader. But until recently Britain was the world leader in the notion of press freedom, with a tradition dating back to Milton, and it’s high time these principles were reapplied for the digital age. Perhaps in the proposed Bill of Rights.
Touching down at Fiumicino on Wednesday clad in a windbreaker, a backpack strapped on and bottled water hanging out, it wouldn't be a surprise if at least a few untrained observers mistook the boyish cardinal-designate for a returning student-priest... if only the welcome from the Filipino ambassador to the Holy See hadn't blown his cover.
One of the things we know about the next Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is that he doesn’t like bankers. Another is that he has given a good deal of thought to the question of social sin. A third is that he has been profoundly influenced by the social teaching of a nineteenth century pope, Leo XIII, as expressed in his 1891 encyclical, Rerum Novarum.
We are all powerfully, incurably, and wonderfully sexed, this is part of a conspiracy between God and nature. Sexuality lies right next to our instinct for breathing and it is ever-present in our lives. Spiritual literature tends to be naïve and in denial about the power of sexuality, as if it could be dismissed as some insignificant factor in the spiritual journey, and as if it could be dismissed at all.
Imagine being born blind and living into adulthood without ever having seen light and color. Then, through some miraculous operation, doctors are able to give you sight. What would you feel immediately upon opening your eyes? Wonder? Bewilderment? Ecstasy? Pain? Some combination of all of these?
I am traveling in the United States, a country where one of the fastest growing religious identifications is “former Catholic” and where over the past few years the number of people who describe themselves as having no religion has topped one in five. Many of those, of course, are former Catholics.
On the eve of the Communist Party National Congress, which will usher in a new leadership in the world’s most populous country, China’s top-ranking churchman is warning not to expect “too much” from the leadership changes. However, he remains “optimistic” that relations between Beijing and the Vatican will improve “in the long run.”
The effect of religious practices on our wellbeing is of growing interest. But in looking at the links, we must not confuse the two. 'What is not being asked is what religious traditions actually teach about the link between faith and health.
In her most recent book, a series of essays entitled, When I was a Child I Read Books, Marilynne Robinson includes an essay called Wondrous Love. She begins the essay autobiographically, confessing her deep, long-standing, faith as a Christian and her ever deepening wonder and awe at the mystery of God.
Anyone who has ever tried to overcome an addiction can answer that question. A clear head, a clear vision of what's to be done, and a solid resolution to leave a bad habit behind is only a half-job, a first step, an important one, but only an initial one. The tough part is still ahead.
Cormac Murphy-O’Connor tells Cole Moreton and Edward Malnick that the Catholic Church is in rude health and he is still, aged 80, its faithful servant Cormac. Murphy-O’Connor could have been wearing ermine and sitting in the House of Lords by now.
Art can save your soul – providing pride does not get in the way. I also read recently the moving testimony of a convert from Islam, whose journey into the Church was aided by Michelangelo’s Pieta in St Peter’s. Again, the French (secular) Jewish philosopher, Simone Weil, was deeply influenced by the metaphysical poets in her own journey towards acceptance of Christianity (though she chose not to be baptised).
If you put all the books you own on the street outside your house, you might expect them to disappear in a trice. But one man in Manila tried it - and found that his collection grew. Hernando Guanlao is a sprightly man in his early 60s, with one abiding passion - books.
Nikos Kazantzakis once suggested that there are three kinds of souls and three kinds of prayers: When I look at life, I also see three great struggles, not unlike those so poetically named by Kazantzakis. And each of these has a corresponding level of Christian discipleship.