SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Niall Gooch

February 04, 2021
What is worth falling out about? On a pretty regular basis the Catholic press reports that a parish has descended into acrimony and conflict because of changes made by a new priest. We had an example of this at Blackfen in London in 2014. Fr Tim Finigan was succeeded by a priest who did not
January 28, 2021
“I think that nowadays the Catholic Church is not an institution for respectable people.” So said the novelist Hilary Mantel in an interview with The Daily Telegraph in 2012. Ms Mantel was raised Catholic but has never practised in adulthood, citing as her reasons unpleasant experiences with nuns and priests during an unhappy childhood. Her
January 24, 2021
Last week I read Letitia Ochoa Adams’ challenging Chapter House piece on white supremacy. It is important, I think, for people like me – white, British and unaffected by the political and social difficulties that beset black Americans – to reflect on what we might not understand about the experience of fellow Christians from different
January 14, 2021
This was an intriguing artistic, moral and theological question thrown up by last autumn’s robust disagreements about the Synod on the Amazon. Areas of dispute included the role of women, married priests and the relationship between indigenous religions and Catholicism. Readers may remember that the Holy Father’s blessing of certain statues carved in the style
January 05, 2021
What do you do if you’re an ardent fan of a particular sport and you want someone else to enjoy it as well? Where do you start – by explaining the rules? Do you give them a history of the sport and a rundown of its great players? Or perhaps you take them to a
December 31, 2020
Here we are on December 31. Smart money says people are already turning out of Christmas and toward the New Year: to school or the office; to the sales; to resolutions; perhaps to Dry January or Veganuary or other horrors. Classic FM are dialling back on the carols and themes from Christmas films and returning
December 23, 2020
“I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.” So says Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle towards the end of CS Lewis’s The Silver Chair, in his brave speech resisting the enchantment of the evil witch
December 21, 2020
Niall Gooch is hopeful this Christmas – at least, he hopes he is. Hope is one of the great Christian virtues. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he is faithful that hath promised”, as Hebrews chapter 10 puts it. We surely need some hope after this year. At the
December 09, 2020
In 1971, a petition was sent to Pope Paul VI, asking that Catholics in England and Wales be allowed to continue hearing the old Latin Mass, which had been formally replaced by a new order of Mass in English following the Second Vatican Council. The new Mass was simpler and more comprehensible but many felt
November 18, 2020
In many countries, Catholics have been protesting against the suspension of public Masses. There have been demonstrations in France, as reported in the Catholic Herald, as well as in Italy and the United States, and petitions are being circulated in Ireland and here in England. British Christians were able to resume worship to some degree
November 15, 2020
I have had to do something to cleanse my brain of thinking about American politics. What a time it’s been for political news junkies. The presidential contest had a dramatic narrative arc that could almost have been written for television. The Democrats were confident in victory as Election Day dawned, buoyed by polling that showed
November 05, 2020
Current children’s bedtime reading chez Gooch is number seven in the Famous Five series, Five Go Off To Camp. Reading the book, I was struck by one thing in particular: the Five are accompanied on their camping trip by one Mr Luffy, a middle-aged teacher from Dick and Julian’s boarding school who is coming to
September 27, 2018
Niall Gooch on how ‘diversity’ dictates our moral climate The Tribe by Ben Cobley, Societas, 250pp, £15 Roger Scruton popularised the idea of “the culture of repudiation”, the tendency of educated people to treat with hostility any moral axiom, cultural artefact or custom redolent of what you might call Old Britain. Ben Cobley does not
August 03, 2018
As children are put to death, Belgium's experience shows the 'slippery slope' is real
August 02, 2018
Three children were given euthanasia during 2016 and 2017 One striking thing about modern Western societies is how quickly bioethical practices that would once have been shocking quickly become unremarkable. It happened with abortion, it happened with embryo selection, and now it is happening with euthanasia. Last week it emerged that during 2016 and 2017
November 29, 2017
In 1963, when it emerged that he had lied to Parliament about his affair with Christine Keeler, John Profumo apologised, resigned from the government and stood down as an MP. He then disappeared from public life. Despite being wealthy and well connected, he volunteered to do menial work for Toynbee Hall, a charity in the
July 20, 2017
As part of my glamorous jet-setting lifestyle, I recently stayed for two nights at a Premier Inn near the intersection of the M57 and the M58 on the outskirts of Liverpool. To get to the hotel from the station was only a short walk, but with one enormous obstacle: a six-lane main road. There was
July 20, 2017
Towns across England have been marred by inexplicably bad planning, but the outlook is improving
May 18, 2017
Arriving in Durham late one March afternoon, I realised that if I was quick I could just make Evensong at the cathedral. It was well worth the brisk dash along the river. Responses by Tallis, psalms by Barber and Pergolesi’s piercing Stabat Mater Dolorosa as the closing anthem, sung by a visiting choir from a
July 21, 2016
Perhaps in anticipation of the lengthy debates over leave or remain that would rage a year later, my son took his time deciding to exit the womb, entering the world under the bright lights of an operating theatre a mere four days after my wife had first begun her labour. That period of four days
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