Stephen Bates

Stephen Bates

    The Literary Review awards highlight the steamiest and most excruciating writing of the year.

    Fans of Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22 may be surprised to learn that the author actually enjoyed his military service during World War II.

    When he went down from Oxford for the Christmas holiday Bilawal Bhutto was just another undergraduate fresher, posting his picture at a Halloween party on Facebook. Recently, on his return to Britain, the chairperson of the Pakistan People's Party was mobbed by journalists and camera crews at a heaving London press conference.

    The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has stepped into the controversy between religious fundamentalists and scientists by saying that he does not believe that creationism -- the Bible-based account of the origins of the world -- should be taught in schools.

    Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, faced the gravest threat to his authority as leader of the worldwide Anglican communion on Wednesday night, as nearly half the church's presiding archbishops launched an unprecedented attack on his leadership over the issue of gay clergy.

    The extraordinary scenes in Rome after the death of Pope John Paul II disguised the problems that his successor, Joseph Ratzinger -- now Benedict XVI, the sixth German pontiff -- will face in becoming the spiritual leader of one-sixth of the world's population: 1,1-billion people. The wave of affection shown for the old pope a fortnight ago was a message the cardinals may have misunderstood.

    As hopes that the next pope will come from Africa were increasingly dismissed as unlikely last week, and Nigeria's Cardinal Francis Arinze was criticised as not being a strong enough contender, a dark-horse candidate, capable of bridging the divide between the Europeans and the Latin American Roman Catholic cardinals, appeared to be emerging in the shape of the Patriarch of Portugal, Jose da Cruz Policarpo.

    An African bishop has announced that he will not accept more than $350 000 of funding to help Aids victims in his area because it comes from an American diocese that supported the election of a gay bishop two years ago. In a statement released to an American conservative Episcopalian website, Nzerebende announced: "South Rwenzori diocese upholds the Holy Scriptures as true word of God."

    The eyes of the Anglican world, Christianity's third-largest denomination, were last week focused on an agreeable Victorian Italianate mansion in Northern Ireland. Anglicanism's biggest cheeses -- 35 of its 38 primate archbishops and presiding bishops -- were sequestered inside, supposedly praying about the church's future. This urgent desire for a united Anglicanism is a recent development.