SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Jon Anderson

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March 12, 2020
Following the resignation of Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK) has a new president. Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg was elected for a six-year term at the DBK’s spring plenary meeting in Mainz. Bishop Bätzing, 58, has only been a bishop since 2016, but has long been regarded as a protégé of Cardinal
February 20, 2020
Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has plunged into chaos, with Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (AKK) suddenly resigning as party leader and announcing she will not be a candidate for Chancellor in next year’s federal election. After little more than a year in office, AKK, an active Catholic and a member of the Central Council of German Catholics,
February 20, 2020
The spring plenary of the German bishops’ conference (DBK), which is taking place at the start of March, will be more eventful than expected. In a surprise announcement, Cardinal Reinhard Marx has said that he will not seek a second term as DBK president. In a letter to his fellow bishops, Cardinal Marx wrote that
December 05, 2019
A recent study from Argentina has shown a dramatic decline in the Church in Pope Francis’s homeland. The Conicet survey showed that 62.9 per cent of the population identified as Catholic, next to 76.5 per cent in a comparable 2008 study. Even more striking shifts are seen in public attitudes towards the Church, with three
November 07, 2019
Pope Francis’s native Argentina has swung sharply to the left in its recent general election. Amid a deep economic crisis, conservative president Mauricio Macri was easily defeated by Peronist challenger Alberto Fernández.  This also marks a dramatic return to power for left-wing former president Cristina Kirchner, who with her late husband Néstor dominated the country
September 26, 2019
The recent general election in Israel, the second this year, has confirmed the country’s political gridlock. Veteran prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been left with no obvious majority, but it will be even more difficult for his opponents to secure one. The major dividing line, apart from the divisive figure of Netanyahu, has been religion. Avigdor
May 23, 2019
A women’s strike led by a dissident Catholic group has sparked actions across Germany. The Maria 2.0 group, which uses an image of the Blessed Virgin silenced by a sticking plaster across her mouth (pictured), called for a week-long boycott of Church activities including Mass. Although participation has been patchy, there has been extensive press
March 21, 2019
There is due to be a generational shift at the top of the European Commission after the European Parliament elections in May. The veteran Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker is likely to be succeeded by 46-year-old Manfred Weber, the lead candidate of the European People’s Party (EPP), the German-dominated centre-right grouping in the EU Parliament. Since
March 07, 2019
The coal country of north-eastern Pennsylvania is full of depressed small towns which have been losing population for decades. Today, if the region makes the news, it is for the social problems associated with the American Rust Belt. But at the end of the 19th century, this was a boom area, with immigrants from Europe
February 21, 2019
In Germany, the crucible of the Reformation 500 years ago, the country’s former Protestant majority now makes up less than a third of the population. A recent study at the University of Münster tracks religious trends since 1950. Between 1950 and 2010, membership of the Catholic Church has dropped from 37 per cent to 30
February 07, 2019
The German government has reached a compromise on liberalising the country’s abortion law. Health minister Jens Spahn of the Christian Democrats (CDU) will revise the controversial Article 219a which bans advertising of abortion services. The government will now publish a list of doctors offering abortion and expand training in the procedure. This follows a bitter
January 03, 2019
Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has a new leader, after the party conference in Hamburg elected Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, known as AKK for short, to take over from Chancellor Angela Merkel, party leader since 2000. AKK is now likely to take over as chancellor when Merkel eventually stands down from government. In her acceptance speech, the
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