SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Piers Paul Read

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March 02, 2021
The failure of the Church to adapt her policies to the new spirit of liberalism, culminating with Pope Pius IX’s condemnation of “progress, liberalism and modern civilisation” in his 1864 Syllabus of Errors, came to be seen by Catholics in in later centuries as paranoid, mistaken, even embarrassing; but the eradication of Christian values among Europeans was to lead in the next century to atrocities far exceeding those of Jacobin France.
June 26, 2020
Sometime in 1913, two Leeds University students taking part in a Union debate on socialism declared that they were not only socialists but atheists. One was a student of botany, Evelyn Roff; the other my father, Herbert Read. This intellectual affinity led to a friendship, kept up through correspondence throughout World War I. Read emerged
August 15, 2019
The Pope’s Army By John Carr Pen and Sword Military, 320pp, £25/$39.95 It remains a paradox, some might say a scandalous paradox, that the Catholic Church whose founder exhorted his followers to meekness should, after the fall of the Roman empire, have raised its own armies, waged war against fellow-Catholics and approved, even recommended, the
November 08, 2018
Piers Paul Read on how the Knights Hospitaller adjusted to the post-Crusades era The Knights Hospitaller in Great Britain By Michael Hodges, St Omer’s Press, 156pp, £20 After the conquest of Jerusalem by the First Crusade, two military orders were formed to protect the pilgrims – the Templars and the Knights of St John who,
January 18, 2018
“The Devil is more intelligent than mere mortals,” Pope Francis told us recently. He is “a real person armed with dark powers … He always pretends to be polite, that’s how he enters into your mind, but it ends badly if you don’t realise what is happening in time.” The truth of this last phrase
November 16, 2017
Anatole France, the Nobel Prize-winning French novelist, observed that “any woman who finds herself alone with a man, thinks him an idiot if he does not make a pass at her”. He was writing, of course, about women in Paris at the end of the 19th century, the Belle Époque, not those in London in
October 05, 2017
A recently formed political party, Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany, or AfD), did well in the last month’s elections in Germany. It gained almost 13 per cent of the vote, and will have around 90 seats in the Bundestag. The media describe it is an extreme right-wing or populist party, which is a subtle
August 17, 2017
Fr Mark Vickers, our parish priest at the Holy Ghost and St Stephen in west London, is also an author and has recently published a fascinating new book, Reunion Revisited: 1930s Ecumenism Exposed. Hitherto, it had been assumed that there was no discussion about the reunion of the Catholic and Anglican communions between the Malines
July 06, 2017
A glittering party was given last Saturday by Sabrina Stoppard in the Chelsea Physic Garden to celebrate the 80th birthday of her husband Tom. Sir Tom Stoppard, OM, CBE, benign and dignified, mingled with his guests like the Sun King, Louis XIV, moving among his courtiers in the gardens of Versailles. The enchanting Sabrina seemed
June 15, 2017
I once met Theresa May at a seminar organised by the think tank Politeia on a subject that I cannot now remember. There were a dozen or so of us sitting round the table, and I was completely out of my depth, but at one point I made a ham-fisted intervention which was listened to
May 11, 2017
Of the dozen or so sites where the Church accepts that Mary, the Mother of God, has appeared in visions, I have been to three – two as a tourist and one as a pilgrim. In 1988, on a road trip through Portugal with my older brother, we stopped off at Fatima. It was deserted:
April 13, 2017
The Dawn of Christianity By Robert Knapp, Profile Books, £25 The extraordinary success of the Christian religion, growing from a small group of baffled Galileans cowering in an upper room in Jerusalem to the state religion of the Roman Empire, is hard for historians to explain. Nietzsche ascribed it to the appeal of its egalitarian