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Robed in white and waving at an unknown subject, he is accompanied  by a 7,700-word cover story aptly titled The Times they are A-Changing

Facebook page for Pope John Paul II

A Facebook page dedicated to the forthcoming beatification of Pope John Paul II will be launched by the Vatican this week.

The Devil’s own work: Why do priests still perform exorcisms?

Exorcism is a Hollywood favourite, the latest being 'The Rite'. The Catholic Church continues with the ritual, but will only talk about it behind closed doors. What are they afraid of, asks Peter Stanford

Pope's UK visit cost £7m

The Pope's state visit to the UK last year cost the taxpayer at least £7 million before security, the Foreign Office has disclosed.

Cyberclinic: Social media is evil? I’m sorry, but get a (real) life

The invention of the telephone probably prompted great thinkers of the day to ponder the negative consequences it might have on society. "Now, before we all get excited about this, let's just hang on a minute," they might have written - but no one paid much attention. It's been fifteen years since mobile phone use started becoming widespread, and the vast majority of nay-sayers have, begrudgingly or otherwise, forked out for one. Social media, however, is coming in for a more sustained kicking – and that's hardly surprising, as it represents such a radical change in the way we communicate: a new syntax, a new etiquette and a whole new capacity for misunderstanding. Pope Benedict (above) this week issued a statement entitled "Truth, proclamation and authenticity of life in the digital age," in which he advises against enclosing ourselves in a parallel virtual existence. Now, to be honest, if the Pope warns of the dangers of something my natural instinct is to rush to sign up to it, but there are normal people (ie, people who have had experience of social media and who aren't 83 years old, celibate and clad in papal vestments) who are issuing similar warnings.

Pope praises social networks

Pope Benedict gave a qualified blessing to social networking yesterday, praising its potential but warning that online friendships are no substitute for real human contact.

Tory sounds warning on anti-Muslim prejudice

Prejudice against Muslims has "passed the dinner-table test" and become widely socially acceptable in Britain, the Conservative chairman will claim today.

Pope John Paul II 'cured' nun from beyond the grave

A French nun has spoken publicly of her "miraculous" cure from Parkinson's disease which the Vatican last week officially declared to have been an "intercession" from beyond the grave by Pope John Paul II.

Church prepares to beatify John Paul II

The late Pope John Paul II moved a big step closer to Roman Catholic sainthood yesterday when his successor approved a decree attributing a miracle to him and announced that he will be beatified on 1 May.

Pope makes historic UK broadcast

God is faithful to his promises but often surprises us by how he fulfils them, the Pope will say in a historic BBC broadcast today.

Pope to deliver Thought for the Day

The Pope will deliver the Christmas Eve Thought For The Day message on BBC Radio 4.

Female sex workers can use condoms too, says Pope

The Vatican has appeared to expand the Catholic Church's tolerance of condoms as a means of fighting HIV, backing their use by female prostitutes, days after the Pope said their use by male sex workers was better than spreading the virus.

Pope signals historic leap in fight against Aids: Condoms can be justified

Catholics give cautious welcome as Vatican overturns traditional teaching – but there is confusion and criticism

Gorecki, famed composer of symphony of sorrow, dies

The Polish composer Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki, famous for his Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, including one about a woman held prisoner by the Gestapo, has died following a serious illness. He was 76.

Who Chose the Gospels? Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy, By CE Hill

CE Hill not only rejoices in the title of Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Verily, he is also the anti-Dan Brown. Whereas The Da Vinci Code author and his ilk delight in theories that evil popes and scheming prelates stamped out the many and often competing versions of Christianity circulating in the first four centuries AD, Hill has a more sober message. There was no conspiracy. Far from blaming the demon figure of the Council of Nicaea, Bishop Athanasius, for deciding that only his four chosen gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – should be the canonical ones, Hill argues that the Emperor Constantine's council was no dastardly cover-up enacted to cement the supremacy of Rome. The four we know as the main part of the New Testament today, he says, were commonly accepted as scripture far earlier.

Language problem hits papal decree

Pope Benedict XVI has formally created a new Vatican office to revive Christianity in Europe – his latest attempt to counter secular trends in traditionally Christian countries. But even on its first day, the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation ran into an all-too-typical Vatican snag: the four-page decree instituting the department was issued in only Latin and Italian.

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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
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The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model of a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

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Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

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Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

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Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

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Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution