SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Gerard Russell

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January 17, 2019
Iraq’s urbane and impressive new president, Barham Salih, has invited the Pope to visit Ur, home of Abraham, in 2019. The invitation was extended to Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, during his Christmas visit to Baghdad in which he concelebrated the Christmas vigil Mass in Baghdad’s cathedral. The Iraqi cabinet, during that same
August 02, 2018
A cathedral is being built in the Arabian peninsula There were Christians in the Arabian desert before the coming of Islam: they included bishops, saints and kings. These communities, however, did not long survive the victories of Islam, whose founder, according to a subsequent tradition, evicted all non-Muslims from the Arabian peninsula. Work has now
June 07, 2018
Few prelates have as much to worry about as Cardinal-designate Louis Sako The Patriarch of Babylon, Louis Raphael Sako, will come to Rome on June 25 to be made a cardinal. His title evokes the ancient past but the problems faced by Sako are very contemporary ones, for he is spiritual leader of Iraq’s Catholics.
April 19, 2018
Why Syria’s Christians support the ‘Gas Killing Animal’ Assad by Gerard Russell Among those condemning the American-French-British strikes on Bashar al-Assad’s forces this past week, alongside Ayatollah Khamenei and Vladimir Putin, were an apparently surprising group: the spiritual leaders of Syria’s Christians. The patriarchs of the country’s three largest Christian communities condemned the “brutal aggression”
November 29, 2017
Most news about Christians in the Middle East these days is gloomy. The Christian presence in Iraq is a fraction of what it was 20 years ago. Syria is wracked by brutal conflict. The burgeoning of Coptic churches outside Egypt is a token of mass emigration. Palestinian and Lebanese Christians have been leaving the region
June 15, 2017
ISIS recruits are often portrayed in the West as having been ordinary people prior to some sudden moment of radicalisation, shortly before they carry out their attacks. This is sometimes a false impression. The Manchester bomber Salman Abedi was reported, after the attack, to have had a “wild youth”; but on closer inspection, it turns
April 27, 2017
Pope Francis will be going to Egypt at Eastertide, but for the Christians of that country it will still be one long Good Friday. The Copts – as most of the country’s Christians are known – are still reeling from the mass murder of nearly 50 of their number by suicide bombers during Palm Sunday
April 27, 2017
The Pope is taking a risk by visiting Egypt, but he is going to the right place at the right time
November 24, 2016
ISIS-style extremists are not new: they are indeed a more obvious part of human history than Western-style liberals. They are, however, newly powerful. Take the plight of Assyrian Christians driven from their homes in Mosul. Their grandparents had the same experience, but worse: 300,000 of them were massacred a century ago at the instigation of
November 10, 2016
Ronald Knox Ed by Francesca Bugliani Knox, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, £48 Mgr Ronald Knox (1888-1957) is finally getting the revival he deserves. This handsome volume joins other recent studies making the case for Knox’s varied achievements as a classicist, translator, theologian, priest and writer of fiction. The son of an Anglican bishop and
September 15, 2016
Christian militias are merely defending villages from an enemy that will show no mercy. But in doing so they must make dangerous choices
September 15, 2016
We are accustomed to seeing Christians in the Middle East as always being victims of discrimination and violence. And so they are, and have been for centuries, suffering from laws (even now) which reject their claims to equal citizenship, and from sporadic but frequent and terrifying instances of persecution or mob violence. In recent years