Holy Smoke

  • Why liberals turn a blind eye to the global persecution of Christians

    The new episode of Holy Smoke is about the persecution of Christians. That's a familiar concept, even if we don't read much about it in the media. Damian is joined on the podcast by a fearless campaigner on behalf of the suffering Church, Fr Benedict Kiely, founder of the charity http://Nasrean.Org. Tune in to what he has to say about the Vatican's cynical deal with China – and Britain's wretched Department for International Development. Presented by Damian Thompson. […]

  • The two time bombs threatening Pope Francis’s moral authority

    This week’s Holy Smoke podcast discusses two looming disasters for Pope Francis.  The first is the ‘Amazon Synod’ in October, at which the world’s bishops will discuss a bizarre plan to ordain Amazon ‘village elders’ as priests. The framework for the synod has already been published; Damian's guest Dr Ed Condon uses the word ‘Orwellian’ to describe the language it employs.  The second threat to Francis is more personal. When he became pope he lost no time making his friend Gustavo Zanchetta a bishop in Argentina. Bad move. Within a short time Zanchetta was facing allegations of sexual and financial impropriety. The Pope was informed of these allegations (and if you google them you’ll discover that they were pretty lurid).  His response? He plucked Zanchetta out of his diocese and created a plum job for him in Rome... managing the Vatican’s finances. Another bad move, now that Zanchetta, back in Argentina, is facing charges of molesting seminarians and other allegations of misusing money.  A mood of despair has set in at the Vatican. You’ll understand why if you listen to the podcast.  Presented by Damian Thompson. […]

  • Lessons learned from Carl Beech and what they mean for Cardinal Pell

    Damian speaks to journalist Catherine Lafferty, who was in court for Carl Beech's trial, about the sensitivities surrounding sex abuse allegations. Have the police jumped to conclusions in Cardinal Pell's case too? Presented by Damian Thompson. […]

  • How radical Islam taught the progressive left to blame the Jews

    It's less than four years since Jeremy Corbyn's hard-left sect seized control of the Labour Party, and yet already its anti-Semitic views – so alien to Labour tradition – seem too deeply rooted to eradicate. Today's 'Holy Smoke' podcast puts this sinister development in the broader context of the 'Red-Green' alliance – the love affair between the progressive Left and the Jew-haters of jihadist Islam. On the face of it, this is an unlikely, even surreal, relationship. But as Damian's guest, the historian Richard Landes, argues, the two have something in common: millennialism, the belief that some sort of Heaven on Earth, is not only imminent but historically inevitable. In theory, progressives believe that this transition to a new era will be peaceful; Jihadists, by definition, don't. But, as Landes explains, it's not as simple as that... […]

  • Does Boris Johnson have Christian values?

    With Harry Mount, editor of the Oldie and author of the Wit and Wisdom of Boris Johnson. Presented by Damian Thompson. […]

  • Why has big business become so woke?

    With the Daily Telegraph's Tim Stanley and Father Benedict Kiely, from the charity Nasarean.org, which campaigns in support of persecuted Christians. Presented by Damian Thompson. […]

  • Why Bach's The St Matthew Passion speaks to all of us

    Every year around the world, many people around the world listen to Bach's three-hour musical depiction of Jesus' trial and execution. Why?  Host Damian Thompson is joined by Thelma Lovell, musical scholar and writer, to discuss why St Matthew Passion exerts such a strong grip on our imagination. […]

  • Why are bishops so boring?

    For 30 years Damian Thompson has been bored senseless by the public pronouncements of bishops – Anglicans and Catholics. Why do they feel the need to speak in such dreary jargon? Why do interesting clergy never make it to bishop? He's joined by Harry Mount, editor of The Oldie. […]

  • Gay smears and the Vatican’s sex abuse summit

    The publication of In the Closet of the Vatican by the French gay polemicist Frédéric Martel has been meticulously timed to coincide with Pope Francis’s ‘global summit’ of bishops to discuss the sexual abuse of minors. But is it really the 'bombshell' exposé that it is billed as being? And what can we glean from the sex abuse summit this week? Damian Thompson talks to Ed Condon, canon lawyer and contributor to the Catholic Herald. […]

  • My sister Carmel on her cancer and her faith

    This is a picture of my sister Carmel and I having tea a few days after our mother’s funeral. She looks cheerful, doesn’t she? That’s because she was: although we both missed our mother intensely, and always will, we had done most of our grieving before she died, as we watched her tortured by Parkinson’s disease and severe dementia.  Carmel looks well, too. And she thought she was. Ovarian cancer plays that trick on women. The first symptoms tend to be annoying rather than alarming. A few weeks after this photograph was taken, I was reassuring her that Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common response to bereavement – which it is. But that’s not what was wrong with her. On November 1, I was sitting next to her in the consulting room at Guy’s Hospital when the specialist confirmed that she had advanced ovarian cancer.  Carmel is my guest on today’s Holy Smoke podcast. Please listen to it. I guarantee that you’ll be surprised by what she has to say. And you will understand why I’m so proud of my sister. Presented by Damian Thompson. […]

  • Is it a sin to be snobbish?

    With Father Alexander Lucie-Smith, moral theologian, and Lara Prendergast, Assistant Editor of the Spectator. Presented by Damian Thompson. […]

  • What has Pope Francis covered up?

    Just how much do those at the highest echelons of the Vatican know about former Archbishop McCarrick's sexual abuse through the years? Has Pope Francis been turning a blind eye to abuse carried out by his favourites, and will this be the end of his papacy? Damian Thompson talks to author Henry Sire. […]

  • The question of ethnicity that is dividing the Sikh community

    With Hardeep Singh, journalist and press officer for Lord Singh of Wimbledon. Presented by Damian Thompson. […]

  • Cardinal McCarrick, sex abuse and the shameful silence of the American bishops

    The Catholic church is reeling from its most significant sex abuse scandal for many years. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired Archbishop of Washington DC, has been suspended from ministry following a wave of detailed allegations that he molested seminarians.  Damian Thompson is joined by Ed Condon […]

  • An atheist goes on a Christian pilgrimage. What’s the point?

    The young atheist writer Guy Stagg threw in his job a few years ago to undertake a pilgrimage to Jerusalem via Rome - choosing a hazardous medieval route across the Alps. It nearly killed him: at one stage, trying to cross a broken bridge in Switzerland, he ended up partially submerged in the water, held up only by his rucksack.  On this week’s Holy Smoke podcast, Guy explains why his journey was a pilgrimage, not just travels. And Damian talks to Harry Mount, editor of The Oldie, why he’s irresistibly drawn to church buildings while remaining an unbeliever - albeit an agnostic rather than an atheist. Presented by Damian Thompson. Produced by Connor O'Hara and Cindy Yu. […]

  • Is the Catholic Church embracing homosexuality?

    ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care. The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are.' These are the words allegedly spoken by Pope Francis to a Chilean man. He appears to have pressed the 'delete' button on the Church's teaching that homosexuality is 'intrinsically disordered'. In this Holy Smoke, Damian Thompson talks to Father Alexander Lucie-Smith, in a frank and sensitive discussion on homosexuality and the Church. […]

  • Why do we insist on worshipping the NHS?

    This summer, adherents of our national quasi-religion are marking the 70th anniversary of its foundation by St Aneurin Bevan. How did a secular model of delivering health care acquire this aura of holiness?  Dr Max Pemberton and the Spectator's Deputy Editor, Freddy Gray talk to Damian Thompson. […]

  • Is RepealThe8th the end of the Irish Catholic church?

    With Tony Trowbridge. Presented by Damian Thompson. […]

  • Why Anglicans and Catholics will never unite

    With Ysenda Maxtone Graham, author of the Church Hesitant and regular contributor to The Spectator. Read her article here: https://specc.ie/2q9OztD. Presented by Damian Thompson. […]

  • The strange death of liberal American Christianity

    With Stephen Bullivant, Professor of Theology and the Sociology of Religion at St Mary's University. Presented by Damian Thompson. […]

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