Morning Homilies IV by Pope Francis (Alban Books, £14.99). These homilies, drawn from July to November 2014, were preached, like their predecessors, to the Holy Father’s fellow residents and guests in the chapel of St Martha Guesthouse in Rome during his daily morning Mass. Spoken in his vivid and personal idiom, they address the Pope’s familiar themes and are designed to make their audience think afresh about the Gospels. Editor Robert Ellsberg comments in his preface: “Here is not the voice of a pontiff addressing the cares of the world … but a pastor sharing the Word of God with his immediate flock.”
The Moral Heart of Public Service edited by Claire Foster-Gilbert (Jessica Kingsley, £15.99). This book is a collection of essays by public figures, including William Hague and Rowan Williams. They address questions of moral courage, the role of conscience, and the tension between idealism and compromise. Williams’s reflections on the Rule of St Benedict are especially noteworthy: focusing on themes of honesty, peace and accountability, he shows how these can be applied to the challenges we face in today’s society, noting that the Rule’s ethic of candour, respect and patience is pre-eminent.
Admissions: a Life in Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, £16.99). This book, a sequel to his earlier Do No Harm, finds the author facing retirement from a lifetime in brain surgery. Marsh raises troubling questions about the limits of his work, how it can go badly wrong and why sometimes it is better not to operate, so that the patient’s life is not dragged out painfully for a few extra months with burdensome treatment. This is a controversial area and, the author concedes, surgeons are not well equipped to talk honestly about death with their patients.
What Does It All Mean? by Richard Leonard SJ (Alban Books, £17.99). Leonard, an Australian priest and author, addresses how the faith can be communicated in a society where atheism predominates, where people’s views are coloured by scandals in the Church, and where the problem of evil remains an obstacle for many people. Leonard meditates on the lives of Catholic women such as St Mary MacKillop, St Teresa of Calcutta and Dorothy Day.
Margaret Thatcher: the Honorary Jew by Robert Philpot (Biteback, £20). Subtitled How Britain’s Jews Shaped Margaret Thatcher and Her Beliefs, this eminently readable book unravels an entire layer of the Iron Lady’s personality and office that has hitherto been largely ignored. Drawing on archive and biographical material, Philpot shows how Mrs Thatcher’s political and philosophical beliefs were entirely commensurate with Judaism. He also traces her rocky road through the Israel-Palestinian problem and her battles with Arabist forces in the Civil Service.
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