SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Piers Paul Read

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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
March 16, 2017
It is an irony that a school named after St Paul should have an ethos that so radically contradicts the Apostle’s views on the role of women. St Paul’s Girls’ School in Hammersmith is avowedly feminist, encouraging its pupils to go out into the world and not simply equal the achievements of men but surpass
February 02, 2017
One of the consolations that comes with being a Catholic is being able to pray for the dead. Through prayer one can remain with those one loved, and do something to mitigate their suffering in purgatory – particularly valuable when one feels one might have done more for them when they were alive. On the
December 08, 2016
Is there a faint echo of the Jansenist controversy in the current dubia drama?
December 08, 2016
Southern Burgundy is rich in the architectural treasures of the Church’s glorious past. There are a number of exquisite Romanesque churches, the ruins of the abbey of Cluny and the beautiful 12th-century Basilica of Paray-le-Monial, which today is a place of pilgrimage second only to Lourdes. It was here that, in 1673, St Margaret Mary
November 10, 2016
It may come as a surprise that many Catholics in America will have voted for Donald Trump in this week’s presidential election. It is hard to think of a man more coarse, vulgar, obnoxious, bumptious and offensive. Like Bill Clinton and JFK he has a history of philandering, but he boasts about it, which makes
October 06, 2016
Conclave by Robert Harris, Hutchinson, £20 Robert Harris’s new novel, Conclave, is set in the near future when, after the death of a pope bearing a remarkable resemblance to Pope Francis, the cardinals of the Universal Church gather in the Vatican to elect his successor. Simply as a guide to the logistics and canonical procedures
September 08, 2016
What will the verdict of history be on David Cameron? What, in particular, might the verdict be sub specie aeternitatis? It should be good. Cameron is a Christian and, while in office, spoke frequently about his faith. “I’m a typical ‘Church of Englander’,” he said in an interview with the Church Times in 2011, “and
August 11, 2016
Last Monday, flicking through the channels on my television in search of BBC Two’s excellent programme on the Battle of the Somme, I found myself faced with an array of naked male buttocks. They were being assessed by two clothed women, one of whom had to select, through a process of elimination, which appealed to
July 07, 2016
Last month I visited Thorens-Glières in the Savoyard Alps, the birthplace of St Francis de Sales. I have felt a particular devotion to this saint since first reading his Introduction to the Devout Life, which is so understanding of human frailty yet so uncompromising in the high standard of holiness to which he feels the
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