Highlights from the week online

A sin the Church would not tolerate

At the National Catholic Register, Thomas Craughwell reviewed William J Slattery’s How Catholic Priests Helped Build – and Can Help Rebuild – Western Civilisation. Among other things, the book observes In the ancient world, it was commonplace for one race or ethnic group to detest and demean every other race or ethnic group.” This uncharitable and unhealthy way of thinking survived into the Dark Ages, even among Christians. The Church would not tolerate it. Romans, Franks, Saxons, Britons and Celts were viewed equally.”Fr Slattery observes that the Church was open to all, and reflects on a “painting in Charlemagne’s Breviary in which the Church is portrayed as a fountain welcoming everyone to drink of her living water.” The Church was intolerant of racially or ethnically exclusive churches. There was no Celtic Church or Frankish Church; there was only the Catholic Church.”

Ofsted’s problem with religious schools

At Commentary, Sohrab Ahmari drew attention to a “campaign against religious education in the UK”. In particular, he mentioned the North London girls’ school Yesodey Hatorah, which was recently “singled out” by Ofsted for “intense scrutiny and opprobrium”. Ofsted recently classed the Orthodox Jewish school as “inadequate” and said it was failing to pass on “British values” to its pupils. The inspectors were especially irked by the lack of sex education and the emphasis on modesty. The writer and Anglican clergyman Giles Fraser, after talking to some of the girls, said: “The Ofsted inspectors obviously came with a fixed agenda, they wanted to talk to the girls about sex. And those who told me about it were obviously made to feel extremely uncomfortable by the questions.”

Ahmari concluded: “If and when totalitarianism arrives in the West, it will carry the grammatically appalling banner of ‘equalities’.”

Why Mark Twain was drawn to Joan of Arc

At Catholic World Report, Kelly Scot Franklin pondered why Mark Twain was so charmed by Joan of Arc. Twain was not a religious man, but his book on St Joan was his favourite of all his books. “It’s a massive novel, and one that took him – by his own estimates – over a decade of research and preparation. And on every page we find the author’s utter admiration for this visionary Catholic saint.” The story is itself remarkable: how St Joan, a young girl, was called by God to battle for France against the English armies. But as Twain himself put it, “I never attributed an act to the Maid herself that was not strictly historical.”

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