The award-winning Catholic journalist Mark Dowd, who is giving the inaugural ICN lecture at Heythrop College next Monday evening, will be presenting two radio and television programmes about the Church over the next few days.
In The Pope's British Divisions, this Thursday, at 9am and 9.30pm, on BBC Radio 4, he will investigate changes in Britain's Catholic community since the last Papal visit in 1982, and the consequences of these changes for wider society. He will ask if the Church's once-strong liberal wing is becoming a minority as British Catholics heed Benedict's call for a smaller, purer church. And he will examine the influence of the Catholic Church on public life in the UK.
As Mark tests the fault lines of British Catholic identity, he visits a Vatican-approved Mass for gay Catholics and meets fellow Catholics who want this special Mass to be shut down. He investigates the new breed of 'Radical Traditionalists' who campaign for traditional Latin church rites and are scathing of modern 'pick and mix' Catholicism; and he talks to their liberal opponents who fear a conservative takeover of their Church.
In Benedict: Trials Of A Pope on BBC Two, at 7pm, next Wednesday, 15 September, Mark Dowd goes in search of the real Joseph Ratzinger. This is a man who was the darling of liberals in the Second Vatican Council but who is now the champion of traditionalists. This is a journey that takes him from the papal homeland of Bavaria to the heart of the Vatican itself. Mark will explore how the current clerical abuse crisis has dogged the Pope's mission to combat western secularism. The programme also features a rare interview with the Pope's brother, Georg Ratzinger, who tells the BBC how his brother has been affected by recent scandals. Mark also profiles the recently formed Catholic media group 'Catholic Voices'.
Both programmes should also be available online on the BBC's playback facility.
Next Monday's lecture at Heythrop is almost booked up now. If you are interested in attending, please e-mail email@example.com or call 020 7267 3616 to check availability.
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