James Jeffrey

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April 09, 2020
Tucked at the back of Senator Eddie Lucio Jr’s office in the grand State Capitol building in Texas is a small side room that serves as a chapel. Statues and icons flank a centrepiece painting of Christ catching St Peter’s hands as he sinks into the waves. Catholicism and politics have long had a strained
February 20, 2020
Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas and a Catholic, has declared that the Lone Star State will not accept any new refugees in 2020. His announcement comes after President Trump signed an executive order last September saying that states and municipalities must give written consent to agencies before refugees can be resettled. In the face
November 14, 2019
An outbreak of violence in Ethiopia at the end of October has manifested a worrying new trend in one of the world’s most religious countries, with reports of Christians targeted during the mayhem that left around 80 dead. Since July 2018, about 30 churches belonging to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church – the largest of the
September 26, 2019
The showdown between the Eritrean government and the Catholic Church shows no sign of abating. Four Catholic schools have been seized by the government this month. It follows the seizure and shutting down in June of the country’s 22 Catholic-run health centres. That decision was widely seen as retaliation for Eritrea’s bishops speaking out in
August 29, 2019
Back in 1975, before Fr Stephen Imbarrato became a Catholic priest and pro-life activist, he got his girlfriend pregnant and was, in his own words, “complicit” in her abortion. Decades later when he met her to apologise, he found out she had been carrying twins. “I had said I supported her decision either way, though I
August 15, 2019
Given the size of Texas – it’s the second largest US state, and three times the size of the UK – opportunities abound for finding hidden treasures and surprises. Among the most enchanting of these, especially if you are Catholic, are its Painted Churches. Set within the rustic idylls of the rolling fields of the
July 04, 2019
The Eritrean government has seized and shut down all the country’s Catholic-run health centres in apparent retaliation for Eritrea’s bishops releasing a pastoral letter in April requesting “a national reconciliation process to guarantee social justice” for all Eritreans. In early June, the authoritarian government, dominated by President Isaias Afewerki since 1993, ordered the 22 health
March 28, 2019
It had been a day of searing heat in the city of Logiya in Ethiopia’s north-east Afar region. It’s a tough neighbourhood, containing the Danakil Desert, one of the hottest places known to man: temperatures in the naked plains frequently soar above 50°C (122°F), exacerbated by the fierce blowing of the Gara, which translates as
August 26, 2018
It turns out older white men can offer something of value too
August 23, 2018
Sometimes I look in the mirror and have grave doubts about my decision: I’ve joined a Catholic men’s group. What’s more, it’s an American one – in Texas, no less – and this stirs a deep-rooted fear that I’ve become ensnared in some sort of Evangelical Bible study. What have I become? Hanging out with
May 24, 2018
A country racked by war and famine is counting on a visit from Pope Francis South Sudan has a special place in the Pope’s heart. In February he designated a day of prayer for the world’s youngest state, which, because of war and famine, is in a near constant state of humanitarian crisis. A month
March 29, 2018
Addis Ababa Ethiopia is a fascinating, country-sized petri dish that reveals what happens to a society and its people as a nation moves from backwardness to modernity. When I first visited Addis Ababa in 2000, I sipped beers in corrugated iron-roofed shacks as seasonal rains turned surrounding dirt tracks into quagmires. Now the city has