Paul Vallely - The Independent

Paul Vallely

Paul Vallely is visiting professor in Public Ethics at the University of Chester and a senior research fellow at the Brooks World Poverty Institute at the University of Manchester. He writes on ethical, political and cultural issues. He has a fortnightly column in the Independent on Sunday and also writes for the New York Times and the Church Times. His latest book is Pope Francis – Untying the Knots. He was co-author of the report of the Commission for Africa and has chaired several development charities.

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Scientology: If religions don’t need a God, what do they need?

We have got to the point where individuals can pretty much define it as they want

Nelson Mandela obituary: Madiba - the father of South African democracy

"Rwanda is our nightmare, South Africa is our dream." So wrote the Nobel Prize-winning African novelist Wole Soyinka in 1994. It was just a month after two events which seemed to span the polarities of despair and hope so many saw in the continent of Africa in the post-independence era. In Rwanda a million people had died in a ghastly genocide. But South Africa had made an astonishingly peaceful transition from oppressive white rule to a black-majority government elected in the country's first free elections ever - and it had done so under the guidance of one extraordinary man.

Nelson Mandela death: A man of his time, and above his time

Nelson Mandela was a man, always, of his time. Yet he was, paradoxically, one who in some ways stood apart from – and even above – that time. It was in this that his greatness lay.

Footage shown to the court from a helmet camera of a Marine during a patrol in Afghanistan in which an insurgent was killed

Brutalised men do brutal things

It is understandable, if inexcusable, that men such as Marine 'A', who will be sentenced this week for murdering an Afghan, overstep the mark

JB Shorts 10, Joshua Brooks, Manchester: Theatre review

This twice-yearly festival of short plays for the theatre – by writers who make their living from television soaps and dramas – is now in its tenth incarnation and gets better and better. JB Shorts is named after the Joshua Brooks pub across the road from the old BBC headquarters in Manchester which produced much of seminal radio drama of the last century. There must be something in the air there.

Yellow Rattle and mixed wildflowers, flowering in meadow

Wanted: A vision for two-thirds of the UK and the chance for David Cameron to polish his tarnished green credentials

The PM has a chance to revitalise the countryside - but his recent record suggests he has other priorities

Fighter: Ex-social services head Sharon Shoesmith, who contested her dismissal

Our love of soap opera is a real killer

The collective urge to simplify events such as the Baby P case means these grim tragedies will continue to happen – and make headlines

Family first: According to the Health Secretary, care homes are ‘a last resort’ in Asian cultures

Politicians must share our shame over neglect of Britain's elderly

Jeremy Hunt is right. We need to tackle the neglect and loneliness of old people, but he is looking at the issue through rose-tinted glasses

Pope Francis is launching a Vatican spring-clean

This week his committee of eight cardinals began work on a radical reform of the scandal-hit Vatican

Pope Francis arrives for his general audience at St Peter's square

Pope Francis: Not so much a reformer as a revolutionary

The Vatican has been turned upside down, but can he ensure that his radical changes to the Church will last?

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These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories