Author: Fr Paul Anthony McGavin

Rural Pastoring

Only in mature years of ministry did I undertake a rural pastorate. It took me some time to identify the differences from urban ministry, and the purpose of this article is to share my reflections on how ordained work in the country varies from the patterns of service appropriate to city life. I hope this article will offer insights not just to anyone about to engage in rural pastoral ministry for the first time, but also to those still in cities or those who have been in the countryside for some time. In my experience there are two main...

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Breaking the Spell

This is a tiresome and silly book, especially for Catholic readers who have a thought-through understanding of their living Faith. But it is marketed as “A New York Times Bestseller” and as “Crystal-clear, constantly engaging, and enjoyable.” Its relevance for readers who have religious convictions is that we must deal with people who adopt Daniel Dennett’s perspective – although usually not so narrowly and ideologically. I use the words ‘narrowly and ideologically’ with some force. The most pervasive self-ascription for the contents of Breaking the Spell is scientific, with science understood in specifically evolutionary terms. However, I judge it...

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Book review: Light of the World

One of the distinctive things about this Pope is his willingness to speak without a prepared text, and his willingness to dialogue. The chief benefit of this book is precisely this. It is an extended expression of the Pope’s candid responses across a wide range of issues. Sometimes his directness is conveyed by terseness: simply “Yes” or “No.” Other times he has to refine the line taken by his journalist interviewer with an “I cannot resolve [that issue] here” or “I would put this more cautiously.” But overwhelmingly the Holy Father succeeds in giving responses that are both succinct...

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What the Pope really said about condoms and the reasons why

During December 2010 there was a furore in the English-speaking world arising from report of the Pope’s words on the use of condoms in a book that presents the Pope’s extended interviews with Peter Seewald, a German journalist. The book, Licht der Welt, was quickly available in an English translation, Light of the World. Seewald invited the Pope to respond to the disjunction between the Church’s teaching and contemporary perceptions, observing “It has become almost impossible for the Catholic Church even to make her sexual ethics understandable” (p. 145). It is in such a context that the Pope at...

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Glimpses of our First International Conference

Conferences do not just “happen”: they have to be organised. Some one remarked that organising priests is like herding cats! Add to this the fact that the Conference occurred in Rome, where “pazienza” is the watchword, and it is amazing that the Conference “happened”! and happened with efficiency! The selection of speakers was dazzling; the selection of principal celebrants for the liturgies was dazzling; the music for the liturgies was wonderful; the venues amazing – and all the hard work from our Secretariat (which means Mrs Carmel Negline!), the work in internet promotion (which means Dr Chris Steward) bore...

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