How never to be lost in a desert of our own making

Notebook At the very end of Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, a name appears, perhaps unfamiliar to many Catholics here in Ireland: Blessed Charles de Foucauld [pictured]. The Pope describes this desert-hermit as “the universal brother”, who had surrendered himself entirely to God in order to become “a brother to ever human being”. But…

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There is justice beyond written laws

All the current talk about judges and courts made me reflect this week on the role of law in Christian civilisation. The institutions of justice are not, of course, a Christian invention; it was the pagan Romans who were the pioneers in legal thought and practice. It was they, for example, who first enunciated the…

The Valladolid debate

Notebook Picture the scene: two men face each other in debate in a stunningly ornate hall. A jury of experts listens intently. They are in Valladolid, the year is 1550, and the debate concerns the moral and legal status of the newly conquered ‘savages’ in Spanish territories. The two men: Dominican friar, Bartolomé de las…

Praise the physician we all need

Notebook   What strange times we’re in! Because of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, many of the institutions that make up our daily landscape are now lying quiet: churches, banks, GAA clubs, offices and schools. But at the same time another social institution is bustling and draws nearly all our attention: the hospital. In these times…

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