My father says there is one place in our Hampshire town where people of every nationality meet. It’s not one of the cavernous pubs, whitewashed social clubs or sprawling sports grounds. It’s the local Catholic church.
He’s right: in the upper gallery where I sit with my boisterous children, there are Indian families to the left, Nigerian ones to the right, and English, Irish, Hungarian, Polish and Maltese ones behind me. This catholicity is so familiar that we can forget how astonishing it is: there is a place for everyone under the soaring roof of the Catholic Church.
To understand Catholicism today we have to both broaden our horizons and go deeper. It would be impossible to grasp Pope Francis’s philosophy, for example, simply by observing Catholic life in Britain. The world’s first Latin American pope is expressing ideas that emerged in that continent after the Second Vatican Council. What did we know of them before his election? Very little, I contend. That’s why we need a Catholic journalism that is able to identify important currents in the Church worldwide, as well as in our own part of it.
Many of you will notice that this issue looks different. The most obvious change is to our news pages, where we have a double-page spread offering a global overview of Catholic news, followed by four pages of analysis.
Straightforward news reporting is widely available online. So we want to offer our magazine readers something unique: authoritative analysis of major events throughout the Catholic world. It is no longer enough, for example, to report simply that “Cardinal Nichols says X”. We need to know why the Cardinal is saying “X”, what other Church leaders have said about “X” and where the debate about “X” is heading. So in every issue from now on, writers with exceptional knowledge of the Church will analyse the major stories of the day wherever they are happening. We are also strengthening our comment pages, with weekly offerings by the incisive Fr Raymond de Souza, a new Diary slot and two regular columnists: Tim Stanley, well known to our readers and anyone who follows current affairs, and the brilliant young American writer Matthew Schmitz.
Which brings me to yet more exciting news: in September, we will be launching a print edition of the Catholic Herald in the United States. I look forward to telling you more about this soon. It will be the biggest step for us since we became a magazine in 2014, after 126 years as a newspaper. When we made that change, we incorporated every feature of the paper into the new magazine. Now we have tightened up the magazine to give it a sharper focus. As a result, I am confident that the new Catholic Herald will not only be entertaining and informative, but will also help our busy readers understand developments in the Church, here and across the world, more swiftly and in greater depth.
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