Culture and Society

Pope Francis hugs a young man during a visit to a rehab centre
Each month, we share the Holy Father’s concerns for the world and for the spread of the Gospel. He entrusts his concerns to the Pope’s Global Prayer Network, the Apostleship of Prayer, and asks us to invite all people of good will to pray with and about these intentions. Here we are in December and, of course, we’re in the Christian season of Advent, so perhaps our prayer with the Pope might have an added dimension of hope and expectation so characteristic of this holy season! And there’s more...
God has a bigger plan for me than I have for myself
“I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness.”A few years ago, I walked into a Church and I found that there was a little service going on. So I sat down at the back and joined in. It was the reception into the Church of a young woman. It was a very nice ceremony and afterwards the people gathered for tea and biscuits in the presbytery. And I got to talk to her.Being – as you all know - the shy retiring sort, my first question was: “why did you want...
Pope Francis opens the Holy Door at Bangui Cathedral, L'Osservatore Romano
The Catholic Church throughout the world formally begins the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy today, 8 December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Pope Francis invites the whole Church to refashion itself as a place not of judgment or condemnation but of pardon and merciful love. “Perhaps we have long since forgotten how to show and live the way of mercy,” Pope Francis wrote in the document Misericordiae Vultus (The Face of Mercy) in which he announced the Jubilee Year. He...
Winter Sun from Unsplash.com
Prepare a way for the Lord,make his paths straight.Every valley will be filled in,every mountain and hill be laid low,winding ways will be straightenedand rough roads made smooth. And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.There were four of us in our noviceship - Matthew, Chris, Tony and myself. And in the summer of 1999, just after we had all been ordained and were about to be sent our separate ways, we all decided to have a reunion. And it happened that this was the time of a total...
Pope Francis kisses a baby on his way to his weekly audience in the Vatican.
           James Hanvey, University of OxfordGiven the media attention around the Catholic Church’s latest synod on the family, with its rumours of schism, plots, and the self-outing of a gay Vatican priest with his partner, one might think that the whole event was scripted by Umberto Eco or Dan Brown. But its effects, which reinforce much of the Church’s teaching on the family, may prove long-lasting.Despite reports saying otherwise, the...
How should we understand the Eucharist?  When instituting the Eucharist at Last Supper, Jesus didn’t ask his disciples to understand what they were doing, he only asked them to celebrate it faithfully until he returned.  When he offered them bread and said, “This is my body”, and then offered them wine and said, “This is my blood”, they would not have understood.  There must have been considerable confusion and bewilderment: How are we supposed to understand this?Their...
Credit Gotik Treffen
We share the Holy Father’s concerns for the world and for the spread of the Gospel. Each month he entrusts his concerns to the Apostleship of Prayer, the Pope’s Global Prayer Network, and asks us to invite all people of good will to pray with and about these intentions.This month, his concerns are:For the whole world, Dialogue: That we may be open to personal encounter and dialogue with all, even those whose convictions differ from our own.Near the beginning of his famous “Spiritual Exercises...
Reviewing the Synod on the Family, October 2015
Three weeks of intense work have ended. It has been an incredible experience to be at and live through a Synod of Bishops. No significant changes to Church discipline or doctrine are on the cards. There was no agreement on the hot-button issue of admitting the divorced and civilly re-married to Communion. As the Synod ends there are two reactions: for some, relief that Church teaching has been affirmed; for others, disappointment - especially for those in difficult circumstances who had hoped...
Love Thy Neighbour
          “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your strength and with all your might... and you must love your neighbour as yourself.”When I worked in the Amazon in South America, I met a young lad called Jonathan and heard his story.When he was ten, his mother died. Three months later, his father abandoned him and his two sisters, emigrated to a rich country and was never heard of again. The three children were taken...
A wise old man's face with glasses
When I was working in the Amazon in South America, we had a lot of people come in to us with eye problems. Many of them just had simple things like short- or long-sightedness and we could help them with eyeglasses. Doubtless for good genetic reasons, there was one particular Amerindian tribe – the Wapisana – who had a very high prevalence of presbyopia – long-sightedness in old age. And that meant that in that whole tribe, almost no-one over the age of thirty could see within hand-distance. And...

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