The Cover for Sensus Fidei

The latest document from the International Theological Commission was published last week and is about the Sensus Fidei and what it has meant, and means for the Church today. To help explain what it is about, we asked Mgr Paul McPartlan, president of the subcommission that prepared Sensus Fidei, to tell us about the document and how it was put together.

“The sensus fidei is the instinct that all the faithful have for the truth of the Gospel, an instinct, given by the Holy Spirit, that also prompts their Christian witness and proclamation in daily life. It’s a great resource for the new evangelisation, and a key to the mature and effective collaboration of all the Church’s members, which is so much needed and wanted. However, like all spiritual gifts it needs to be carefully nurtured and discerned. It isn’t at all necessarily the same thing as popular opinion or the majority view. So how should it be understood and applied? This document tries to respond to those questions.

The International Theological Commission (ITC) was founded in 1969 and it consists of thirty theologians from around the world, members being appointed every five years by the pope. So the ITC works in five-year cycles, and normally has three projects underway at any given time.

For that purpose, the membership is divided into three subcommissions, each of which concentrates on one of the projects, studying that particular issue closely and developing a document on it. There are subcommission meetings during the course of the year, but at the annual plenary meeting of the ITC in Rome all of the projects are discussed by the full commission. Documents which are finally approved by the commission as a whole are then passed to the President of the ITC, namely the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who decides whether they should be published. Projects are not always completed in one cycle of work; sometimes they are passed on to the next one.

During the 2009-2014 cycle, three ITC documents were completed and published: one on the nature and proper characteristics of Catholic theology itself, Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles and Criteria (work on this topic began in the previous cycle and was completed in 2011, and the document has been widely translated and well received); one on God the Trinity and the Unity of Humanity: Christian monotheism and its opposition to violence (2014), a most timely document showing how violence is completely incompatible with faith in the one God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit; and finally the present document on the Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church (2014).

Work on the latter topic actually began only in 2011, picking up a theme from the document on theology, which mentioned the sensus fidei a few times, and particularly stated that ‘attention to the sensus fidelium’ was indeed a criterion for Catholic theology (Theology Today, nn.33-36). The two terms, sensus fidei (sense of the faith) and sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful, i.e. the sense that the faithful have of the faith) are very similar, so much so that people sometimes use a compound term, sensus fidei fidelium.

The idea that the Christian faith lives in the people of God as a whole, and that even the humblest believer can have profound insights into the truth of God, has been strongly emphasised by Pope Francis. The ITC document recalls his first Angelus address in which he praised the wisdom of an elderly woman who once said to him: ‘If the Lord did not forgive everything, the world would not exist’ (Sensus Fidei, n.2). So, although the ITC began its work on the sensus fidei before the election of Pope Francis, the pope’s own frequent reference to this topic has made this document, too, very timely, perhaps especially in view of the forthcoming synods on ‘Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelisation.”

Mgr Paul McPartlan

Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church is available now from CTS, priced £4.95.

The Cover for I am Margaret

Today, as the school holidays are now in full swing, we wanted to post something a little different on the blog, an interview with a Catholic author of young adult fiction.

Whether it’s Harry Potter or Twilight, Divergent or The Hunger Games, magic spells, romance or frightening futures, recent times have proved the popularity of the adventure novel for young people. Corinna Turner’s dystopia I Am Margaret, is crucially different however, in that one of the key elements of the story and of the heroine Margo’s life, is her Catholic Faith.

She’s part of the underground network of Believers trying to live out their Catholic Faith and that carries the death penalty. At aged 18 everybody goes through sorting, a test that determines your future. If you fail you are literally recycled and Margo is going to…

CTS Compass: How did the idea for writing this come about?

Corinna: It started with a growing dissatisfaction with mainstream fiction. The mainstream fiction I was reading – and writing – seemed to have to obey an unwritten rule, ‘we don’t do God’. Especially ‘we don’t do Christianity’. As someone whose faith is central to their life, this was making mainstream fiction increasingly unsatisfying, to say nothing of it feeling very unrealistic. When the idea for ‘I Am Margaret’ stormed into my head in a dream during a retreat I decided I would go right ahead and write it just as I would write a mainstream novel – but with a Catholic heroine whose faith was integral to the story.

‘I Am Margaret’ has a certain thematic and stylistic similarity to mainstream novels such as ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Divergent’, but it takes a very different attitude to morality and faith plays an integral role in the book. The tone and pace of a mainstream Young Adult novel are combined with a totally Catholic attitude to life and to the challenges the characters face.”

CTS Compass: What are your hopes for the book?

Corinna: “I hope this novel will allow ‘churched’ teenagers who are reading (often spiritually and morally unwholesome) mainstream novels due to the lack of compelling Catholic alternatives to enjoy a gripping, page-turning read that actually reflects their world view rather than that of the secular world, and thus to nourish their faith whilst entertaining them to the same – if not greater! – degree.”

CTS Compass: Do you think your title will appeal to wider audiences too?

Corinna: “From the feedback I’ve had from non-Christian readers, I think those who find any mention of faith uncomfortable are never going to enjoy it, but I have had very positive feedback from people who are open to faith and to other people’s world views. So there definitely seems to be a wider appeal.”

CTS Compass: Tell us a little about how you came to the Catholic Faith and what it has meant for your writing?

Corinna: “I was raised in the Methodist church, confirmed as a teenager in the Anglican church and finally received into full communion with the Catholic Church just over four years ago. In the years leading up to my reception (and since then) I had tremendous growth in my spiritual life and began to develop a genuine relationship with God for the first time in my life. This had a direct influence on my reading and writing habits. The lack of faith in mainstream fiction began to really trouble and frustrate me, and I also became much pickier about what I read (or watched) – I’m now much less prepared to put up with gratuitous violence and offensive material. However, Richard Atkins from BBC Radio Gloucestershire remarked in a recent interview that ‘Christian Fiction can be rather twee… but there’s not a twee-ness about ‘I Am Margaret’, is there?’ – and there are certainly a number of scenes in ‘I Am Margaret’ that readers find quite challenging. Because personally, I don’t think people find ‘twee’ satisfying or stimulating – but the scenes are not excessively graphic. A scene can be gritty without being gory!”

CTS Compass: In Margaret’s world why is it so important to be Catholic?

Corinna: “For the same reason that it is so important to be a Catholic today. Because God loved us so much he died for us – Jesus is the way to God, the truth about everything and the life eternal! In the future world of ‘I Am Margaret’ the ‘Underground’ (the network of religious believers) does essentially have a monopoly on non-violent opposition to the status quo, but I don’t think many people would join them just for this reason because the punishments are too severe.”

To find out more about the I Am Margaret series, or read the first chapter of I Am Margaret click here.

Stories of World War I cover

The centenary of the start of the Great War was marked across the world on Monday. World leaders and dignitaries, as well as ordinary people around the globe, stood and wondered how and why those four years of destruction happened.

It has been the work of many historians in the intervening 100 years to attempt to answer these questions, yet what was chiefly being remembered was not the political decision making but the courage, sacrifice and suffering of millions across the continent and further afield.

Here at the CTS we too have looked back at our archives from that time to produce the booklet Stories of World War I, bringing together the experience of ordinary Catholic soldiers and the chaplains who ministered to them. As the introduction states:

“From the very outbreak of the War, the Catholic Truth Society (CTS) was involved with the British war effort. Most importantly, it co-operated with the War Office in providing very large numbers of Simple Prayer Books for Catholic soldiers and sailors, and also other devotional material. Several booklets were also published during the War describing how it specifically affected Catholics.”

You can read an extract from the booklet below and it is available from the CTS website priced £2.50.

Of related interest:

The Cover of Fr Willie Doyle Fr Willie Doyle -This is the amazing story of Willie Doyle SJ, who died in the trenches at Passchendaele in 1917, serving the soldiers under his care. A brave and popular Catholic chaplain, Willie lived a life of great courage, adventure and personal holiness.
Benedict XV & World War I Benedict XV & World War I – Giacomo della Chiesa was elected pope in September 1914, only weeks after the outbreak of the First World War. On the centenary of that tragic development, this booklet examines how he (Benedict XV) and so many others worked courageously to stop the carnage – against all the odds.


With great sadness we can announce that CTS Commissioning Editor and author Stratford Caldecott passed away on 17th July after a lengthy illness.

Stratford was an admired colleague and a valuable adviser with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the faith and an authentic talent for spotting gifted writers who, like himself, could explain the riches of the Faith to all.

Stratford’s writing and commissioning for CTS ranged from Catholic Social Teaching, to scripture, to prayer and from spirituality to liturgy. In an age of specialists, Stratford’s work encompassed all aspects of the Faith he loved so well.

It has been a pleasure and a joy to work with him over the years and to learn from his professionalism and his deep faith. I’m sure we can speak on behalf of ourselves and of the many thousands who have benefited from the books he has written and commissioned, assuring his family of our deep gratitude and prayers.

“The man who keeps and teaches the commandments will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.” Mt 5:19

Mr Fergal Martin, General Secertary & Mr Pierpaolo Finaldi, Managing Editor.

CTS author Steven Schloeder pays his tribute to Stratford Caldecott

“I met Stratford about 25 years ago, when he encouraged me to pursue my work in church architecture. he tried unsuccessfully to get my book ‘Architecture in Communion’ published through Harper Collins, though he did give me my first publication in Second Spring in 1995, which was then published in Catholic World Report. From that article, priests started asking me to design churches, my book got published by Ignatius Press, I was able to pursue my doctorate, and my career finally became my vocation.

I have been blessed by his constancy and support. Stratford understood what I was trying to say, he advocated for me without reserve, and he helped me find my voice. Over the past five years he regularly cajoled me to write a couple of books for the Catholic Truth Society – Publishers To The Holy See, which were finally published last year (Catholic Architecture) and this year (Understanding a Church).

I dedicate both of those books to you, dear friend.

As I wrote last to Strat in May this year:

‘You have been such a blessing to me — and I can honestly say that I am now working full time serving the Church in architecture mostly because you have advocated me and my ideas. That is a strange and wondrous bit of providence — probably not too significant in the grand scheme of things, and you have done so very much for so many in to help light their path in service to Christ — but for me it has been determinative. You have very much been part of the way our Lord has shaped the trajectory of my life. I simply want you to know that, and to let you know how grateful I am to you for your friendship and support.’

Rest in peace.”

Steven Schloeder

If you would like to know more about Stratford’s work, we can recommend the following booklets that he authored and which cover subjects that were close to his heart, showing the breadth of his expertise:

The Cover of Catholic Social Teaching Catholic Social Teaching -This book examines key aspects of human social relations such as the family, the state and civil society, the world of work and justice. It explains in clear language how a conscience informed by divine revelation brings out the true human vocation to love of God and neighbour.
Companion to the Book of Revelation Companion to the Book of Revelation – This booklet explains the tradition from which the book of Revelation developed and outlines the structure of the book and the meanings behind the numbers and images.
Catholicism and Other Religions Catholicism and Other Religions – his booklet explains what the Catholic Church intends by interfaith dialogue, what she thinks of the truth of other religions and the different questions that different religions exist to answer.

Saints John Paul II & John XXIII Prayer Book

Dame Joana Bogle was interviewed by Vatican Radio recently about the impressive sales of the latest project she has worked on with CTS, compiling the St John XXIII and St John Paul II Prayer Book.

In the interview, which you can listen to here, she discusses the booklet, the day of the four Popes at the canonisation in April, what the two new saints have meant to her and to others and much more.

Here is an extract of the St John XXIII and St John Paul II Prayer Book which is available from CTS, priced £2.50.

Evangelium Conference

Are you interested in the Catholic faith, but lack the time or opportunities to learn? Do you wonder why the faith exists or how to flourish as a Catholic? Do you face challenges in living, sharing or defending the faith in secular society?

If so, the Evangelium Conference 2014, sponsored by the CTS, is on hand to help. Taking place at the Oratory School in Reading from Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd August, it provides an opportunity to meet these challenges and to help participants, especially young Catholics age 18–35, to live a more abundant Catholic life.


Jesus taught that we need to put down deep roots in order to bear good spiritual fruit, and these roots come largely from our prayer and study. The Evangelium conference provides opportunities to construct a personalised short course of four sessions, with summaries and references provided for ongoing reading, selected from one of the fourfold areas of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (pictured right)

The Evangelium Conference 2014 features:

• dynamic talks by outstanding speakers
• opportunities to meet with other young people who share your faith
• debates, discussions and spiritual direction
• daily Mass and Eucharistic adoration
• opportunities for confession
• excellent food and relaxation in the beautiful grounds
• sport and evening entertainment

Guest speakers for Evangelium 2014 will include:

Rt. Rev Philip Egan – Bishop of Portsmouth
Joanna Bogle – Broadcaster and Writer
Lynette Burrows – Journalist, Social Commentator and Family Rights Activist
Mary Killeen – Director of Marriage and Family studies at Maryvale Institute
Fr Marcus Holden – Rector of St Augustine’s Shrine and Director of MA Apologetics, Maryvale
Dr William Newton – International Theology Institute
Fr Armand de Malleray – Chaplain of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter
Fr Andrew Pinsent – Theology Faculty of Oxford and former CERN physicist.


The whole weekend, including accommodation and meals comes to £95.00. Discounts are available, or if you are only interested in attending a part of the Conference it costs only £65.00.

To find out more or to book your place at this enjoyable and uplifting weekend, click here.


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CTS Catholic Compass is a blog from CTS Publishers set up to help fellow travellers get a true bearing on the life, faith and teachings of the Catholic Church.

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