ALL THINGS CATHOLIC November 30, 2012

I want to share an enthusiasm about one of the best available sources for the state of Christianity worldwide.

I have already described my admiration for religious commentator John Allen. Although his main emphasis is Roman Catholicism, he is a wonderful source on global religious trends generally, as they affect Christians of all traditions. You can follow Allen’s work through the newspaper National Catholic Reporter, which is not particularly where my own political views lie. However, subscribing to their email list means that you are alerted whenever Allen publishes a new edition of his All Things Catholic column.

Just to give you an idea of the resources here, one recent posting has three astute and highly informed sections. One concerns the European Parliament’s approval of a candidate for a senior ministerial position, a decision that had been in doubt because of the man’s strong Christian moral convictions. Allen uses this outcome to argue that we perhaps exaggerate the view of the European Union as implacably opposed to religious faith. Allen then publishes his interview with Miguel Diaz, US ambassador to the Vatican.

Finally, Allen returns to an issue that he has often raised in recent months, namely the desperate state of Christians in Syria. As he says, “There’s no place in the world today where Christians face a greater immediate threat to life and limb than Syria, and if Western Catholics can’t set aside their ideological differences to do something for them, I’m not sure what hope there is for bringing us together on anything else.” For “Catholics,” read also “Christians” more generally. His earlier reports on conditions in that country have been just harrowing.

Just to put this in context, that single typical blog posting ran to 2,500 words, with a better and more detailed coverage of international religious themes than you will find in virtually any other US media outlet.

Allen’s observations will be all the more valuable when the present Pope eventually dies, and the time comes to choose a successor. There really is no other commentator I find vaguely as well informed on Vatican politics and controversies.

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