Damian Thompson

Damian Thompson

Damian Thompson is an associate editor of The Spectator

The strange appeal of Integralism

28 min listen

You might imagine that a political project to place modern nation states under the supreme authority of the Catholic Church would stand zero chance of success anywhere in the world, including in traditionally Catholic countries. And you’d be right. Even so, a movement known as Integralism – whose 20th-century incarnations were closely related to fascism

A marvel – how did Bradley Cooper pull it off? Maestro reviewed

As the overture to Candide blazed away during the ovation for Maestro at the Venice Film Festival, three members of the audience flung their arms around in an imitation of Leonard Bernstein’s conducting style. They were his children, Jamie, Alexander and Nina, and their reaction said it all. Bradley Cooper, the film’s star and director,

What do sugar and cocaine have in common?

Stephen Fry is a national treasure whom half the nation can’t stand. He drops his façade of loveability mid-chortle as soon as Brexit is mentioned. He threw a spectacularly pompous Remainer wobbly a few weeks ago and I remember thinking: is he determined to make the people he disdains actively hate him? If so, it’s

How not to talk to builders

It’s week eight of the installation of a cheap Ikea kitchen in my flat, and an Albanian builder is slumped in an armchair in my sitting room. He’s shielding his face with his hand, Princess Diana-style, to hide the fact that he’s weeping. My kitchen sink drama began when I rang a firm of local

The Pope, gay blessings and the Rupnik scandal

13 min listen

Pope Francis’s much-hyped ‘synod on synodality’ began in Rome this week and to say that it has got off to a rocky start is putting it mildly. On Monday, five leading conservative cardinals bounced Francis into making a highly ambiguous statement apparently opening the door to gay blessings. Meanwhile, and this subject is being played

So which Naomi do you think I am? The saga of Klein vs Wolf

Maureen O’Hara, the flame-haired ‘Queen of Technicolor’ celebrated for her on-screen chemistry with John Wayne, hated to be confused with Maureen O’Sullivan, who was Jane to Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan. But they were both Irish-born Hollywood actresses called Maureen, so it kept happening. I once heard John Sessions describe the time he met the octogenarian O’Hara.

Genghis Khan and the Pope’s summer of madness

21 min listen

Earlier this week, the Rome correspondent of the Times found himself mugging up on the history of Genghis Khan’s Mongol Empire, and this is what he reported:  While the empire brought stability, it was created through the large-scale massacre of anyone who refused to submit to Mongol rule, leading to the death of millions. Mongol troops triggered famine

Why I had to let go of my late sister’s house

On the window ledge of my sister Carmel’s bedroom there’s a tray of cards inscribed with the months of the year, days of the week and numbers from 1 to 31. If you can be bothered to adjust the display every morning, you’ll have what’s called a ‘perpetual calendar’. I need to remember that I

Is 2023 Pope Francis’s ‘Year Zero’?

33 min listen

Conservative Catholic critics of Pope Francis are referring to 2023 as his ‘Year Zero’ – a time of revolutionary upheaval initiated by an 86-year-old pontiff who feels liberated by the death of his predecessor Benedict XVI on New Year’s Eve.  Events are moving fast. This October, the world’s bishops will gather for a synod in

Katy Balls, Olenka Hamilton, Damian Thompson

24 min listen

This week: (01:08) Katy Balls on the tricky relationship between Labour and the Unions, (07:11) Olenka Hamilton on why Poland is having a row with Brussels over migrants and asylum seekers and (15:29) Damian Thompson asks whether the Vatican is turning its back on tradition and beautiful art.

Barbie’s world: the normalisation of cosmetic surgery

39 min listen

This week: Ahead of the release of the Barbie movie, Louise Perry writes in her cover piece about how social media is fuelling the cosmetic surgery industry. She argues that life in plastic is not, in fact, fantastic. She joins the podcast alongside the Times’s Sarah Ditum, author of the upcoming book: Toxic: Women, Fame and the Noughties, to

Has the Vatican abandoned beauty?

The Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity in the Cambridge-shire market town of Ely is one of the supreme achievements of European Gothic architecture. Its octagonal tower lifts the eye to a sumptuously restored wooden lantern from which Christ looks down in majesty. Who on Earth thinks faith can be awakened by seeing

Escaping the atheist hell of North Korea

15 min listen

For 75 years, the most anti-Christian regime in modern history has thrown its citizens into prison camps if they are suspected of the slightest dissent. Ten per cent of people live in modern slavery; perhaps 200,000 are behind bars. I’m talking about North Korea, of course – a regime even more abhorrent than Stalinist Russia,

Inside the world’s most vicious liturgy wars

23 min listen

In the ancient Syro-Malabar Church of south India, clergy who try to change the liturgy do so at their peril. At St Mary’s Cathedral Basilica in Ernakulam last December, a long-standing dispute over whether the priest should face the people led to scenes in which protestors attacked clergy in the middle of the service, sending

The search for the next pope is turning ugly

The Portuguese poet José Tolentino Mendonça is a handsome man in his fifties with a shaved head and meticulously trimmed beard. In one photograph he’s wearing an ultramarine blue polo shirt; in another, a lovely beige cashmere sweater that matches his tan. His poems depict emotional pain in cryptic language. In ‘The Last Day of