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Thought for the Day, with Catherine Pepinster

In her Thought for the Day last week, Catherine Pepinster, Editor of The Tablet, was talking about the recent financial scandals at the Vatican. She mentioned the business of canonisation and said that there might be a case for abandoning the process of declaring people to be saints, which has led to allegations of bribery. But one reason to retain the practice, she thought, was that knowing of the lives of saintly individuals may help people when they "struggle to believe".

Surely the idea of struggling to believe is an odd one. It at once reminds me of the White Queen in Through the Looking Glass, who boasted that she had believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. Belief seems to be particularly valued in Western Christianity, where there is a centuries-old history, going back to Constantine, of the defining of doctrine and the denunciation of heresies.

Note added 25 November 2015: The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has admitted that the recent terrorist attacks in Paris made him doubt the presence of God. His predecessor, Rowan Williams, said in an interview with John Humphrys that he could only "just" maintain belief in the face of human suffering.






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