Questions of Faith

A where listeners can send in questions about the faith to be answered. Please send any questions to

Questions of Faith will be broadcast on Fridays live at 11:00, and repeated on Fridays at 23:15, Monday at 20:30 and Thursday at 00:30

2021/2022 Series

17 – 21 September

1: The first episode of the news series.

24 – 28 September

2: Father Sam is joined by Sister Cecilia, a Dominican Sister of the Congregation of Stone. They look at the following questions.

·         Why do some Popes become saints but some don’t?

·         Does the Church still believe in the existence purgatory and if yes, how long much time might we spend there?

·         If someone commits suicide are they damned?

·         If someone else makes us really angry and so we respond with anger, is that a sin?

·         Is it possible to completely forgive someone, so that when we think about that person we don’t feel inflamed with emotions?

·         How can I implement ‘holiness’ in my everyday life?

·         Does God love me even when I feel so far away from him?

·         I struggle to engage at Mass, what can I do about this?

1 – 5 October

3: Sister Gemma Simmonds is joined by Radio Maria guest Father Vladimir Felzmann. Father Vlad is the Canary Wharf Multifaith Chaplaincy’s dedicated Catholic Chaplain. He is also Catholic Chaplain for sport, CEO of The John Paul II Foundation for Sport (which he launched in 2011) and a trustee of The Passage, CaAPA and Genesis. Today's episode is a special for the Feast of St Therese of Lisieux. Father Vlad and Sister Gemma look at how St Therese's Little Way can help us to come closer to God in our everyday life ­– in particular looking at the virtues of faith and hope.

8 – 12 October

4: Monsignor Tony Rogers is joined by Father Stefan Park to answer this week's questions.

·         Why should we pray? Doesn’t God know all of our needs?

·         Why do we pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary? Surely it’s more effective to pray directly to God?

·         My child is asking me, why doesn’t Jesus just come back to earth? Wouldn’t he help sort out all the world’s problems and it would be easier for everyone to believe in him too.

·         How do you know which parts of the Bible are real facts and which are just stories that illustrate a point. For example, in the Book of Tobit do you think Sarah really married seven husbands before she met Tobias? What’s the main message to take away from the Bible?

·         Why do miracles happen for some people and not others?

·         If Christianity is the true religion, why are there so many others?

·         Can you prove that God exists or doesn't exist?

·         When praying at home or with friends, is it necessary to begin with ‘In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ or even just a silent sign of the cross?

15 – 18 October

5: Sister Gemma Simmonds and Father Luke Goymour answer this week’s questions.

·         The Church is asking us to pray a novena to St John Paul II for the reading of the Assisted Dying Bill reading in the House of Lords. Can you help explain exactly why Assisted Dying is so wrong, so that I can speak more eloquently to friends who support this? The second part of this question is: can you explain the value of pain and suffering in the life of a human being and in particular a Christian?

·         My name is John and I’m an expat in Japan where Christians make up only 1% of the population – it’s not always easy to practice our faith. I followed my Catholic Japanese wife here and often question whether I made the right choice?

·         Does the church have advice or teachings on parents’ authority?  My 13-year-old son was confirmed this spring and now wants to stop going to church – does he need to continue to follow my wishes that he continues to go with his family?

·         Does the Catholic Church believe in Freedom of Speech?

·         Can you prove that God does or doesn’t exist?

22 October

6: Monsignor Tony Rogers and Father Luke Goymour answer this week’s questions.

·         When praying at home or with friends, is it necessary to begin with ‘In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ or even just a silent sign of the cross?

·         Can we pray the Our Father with our hands open in the 'Orans position'?

·         What’s the difference between a pastor, a priest and a preacher?

·         Why shouldn’t we eat meat on Fridays? And what about fish? For me, fish is a luxury item so I feel if I’m making an act of penance, fish isn’t so suitable.

·         Has the obligation to attend Mass been reinstated? And if not, when or will it be reinstated?

·         In the Gospels Jesus says that the one who sins against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. What is this sin against the Holy Spirit?

·         Why can’t Catholic priests marry?

29 October

7: Monsignor Tony Rogers and Father Stefan Park answer this week’s questions.

·         Has the obligation to attend Mass been reinstated? And if not, when or will it be reinstated?;

·         I’m confused about Halloween which is coming up this weekend. I know in some parts of the Church it is frowned upon to let one’s children dress up and go trick or treating – that in doing so is in some way collaborating with evil. How harmless or dangerous is it? Should we be exercising caution?

·         In the Gospels Jesus says that the one who sins against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. What is this sin against the Holy Spirit?;

·         How should we mark All Souls Day which is next Tuesday? It seems we don’t we visit graveyards in this country as much as in other countries. Is there a reason for this? Where I was living abroad, Mass would be celebrated in the cemetery on All Souls Day.

·         After we die, will we receive a glorified body at the moment we enter heaven, or at the end of the world after the final Judgement?

·         Can we pray to Old Testament prophets? Are they saints?

5 November

8: Sister Gemma Simmonds and Monsignor Tony Rogers answer this week’s questions.

·         As a Catholic, should I participate in Bonfire Night?

·         Pope Francis has called a general synod. My understanding is that we are all called to participate. I have a sense that this synod different to others, but don't know if this is a correct understanding, and if it is; why? Could you shed some light?

·         Why are most English Saints Martyrs? And with all the war that’s happened this past century, why don’t we have more recent martyrs as saints?

·         Olive needs some expensive surgery on her heart. It will cost about £500. Olive is only 3 years old. I work for a homeless charity and I’ve got a lot of guilt trying to figure out whether I should proceed with the surgery. Is it wrong to spend so much money on my dog Olive?

12 November

Father Luke Goymour and Margaret Mary McFadyen answer this week's questions.

·         With Remembrance Sunday coming up this weekend I’m wondering about soldiers going into war ‘with God on their side’. The Allies fought for ‘God and Empire’ in WWI and the Germans had ‘God with us’ inscribed in their belts. Whose side was God on? Where was God in all of these terrible wars?

·         When we are confirmed we choose a patron saint, and then the bishop greets us with that saint’s name. Should we be known by our confirmation name thereafter? Monks and nuns usually add to or change their name on making profession or entering noviciate so why don’t lay Christians do the same? (Especially if one hasn’t been given a Christian name at birth/baptism!)

·         My friend sometimes refers to her ‘spiritual director’.  I think I want one! But what is a spiritual director?  How is a spiritual director different from my parish priest?  And how do I get one?

·         I mainly hear the Bible during the Mass readings. I’m not quite sure how to use it at other times, besides reading it as a story? Is there a way to use it more in my prayer life besides just at Mass?

·         From Sam aged 6: ‘Why haven’t scientists found God yet?’

·         I attend Our Lady of English Martyrs and sing in their choir – I’m Anglican though.  I love singing and have friends in the choir.  Can I participate in the Synodal process coming up? Do other Christian denominations matter when it comes to this process?  

19 November

Sister Gemma Simmonds and Father Luke Goymour answer this week’s questions.

·         My wife is a Christian and loves to point out that Jesus says, ‘The greatest commandment is Love’ – that is, if she takes this as her guideline but doesn’t pay too much attention to observing the traditions of the Church and receiving the sacraments, she will still be fine.  Whilst teaching our children, I find it hard to instil in them the need to follow Church traditions. I want my children to respect their mother, but I want them to observe all the teachings that we have in the Church. How can I find a compromise?

·         Does it matter what we wear to Church? Last Sunday I attended a different Parish as I was away for the weekend, and the lay Eucharistic minister who was helping the parish priest distribute communion was dressed very casually (tracksuit/t-shirt style) which I found rather off-putting. Surely as a priest has to be robed in a certain was to celebrate Mass, at least a Eucharistic Minister should be given some guidelines as they have an important role – after all, those serving at Mass usually have to wear a cassock too?

·         Do you think God has the solutions to climate change ‘up his sleeve’ – if only a large enough number of people would turn/return to Him, be converted in their everyday lives, and seek His help on this issue?

·         I’m a single father and my daughter is a smart teenager very interested in social justice. She continually complains to me that the Church is disconnected with women today and doesn’t allow them to have a leadership role. Any advice on how I can respond and how I can encourage her to have a good relationship with the Church?

·         My husband enjoys the Extraordinary Form of the Mass in Latin, but I feel very disconnected as my mind drifts off and I don’t know what is happening. How I can feel more connected or should I go to a different Mass?


2020/2021 Series

Here is what some of the episodes covered.

2 – 8 October

1: Some of the questions asked were:

·         I’ve seen people hang rosaries over the rear view mirrors in their cars and a few of them wear them around their necks. Is it OK to do that?

·         Why do we have confession? If God knows everything, why can’t we just tell him that we’re sorry when we do something wrong?

9 – 15 October

2: Guest Host Genevieve Wedgbury helps Father Sam Randall answer questions sent in by listeners.  Questions include:

·         Will my pet frog go to heaven?

·         What’s the deal with the rich American preachers?

·         Why do we pray for people in purgatory?”

13 – 19 November

7: Father Sam Randall and Sister Gemma Simmonds answer questions sent into Radio Maria England, including this week:

·         What is the difference between veneration and worship? (from a RME volunteer)

·         Why does prayer sometimes work and sometimes doesn't? (from an eight-year-old)  

The presenters also tackle Catholics grappling with elected leaders that may not aspire to the same moral and social ideas that Catholics hold dear.

20 – 26 November

8: Father Sam Randall and Sister Gemma Simmonds answer questions such as:

·         People keep asking me to take on roles in the parish, but I’m so far from being a good person.  Shouldn’t I work on making myself a better person before helping or leading others?

·         Why is the government not permitting public worship during lockdown?  My parish observed all the policies that we had before lockdown and seemed safe to me.

·         With the report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) on the Catholic Church, published last week, I question why hasn’t the church fixed these problems that seem to pop up every 10 years, or so…

27 November – 3 December

9: Father Sam Randall welcomes Genevieve Wedgbury back as co-host and the two of them answer questions such as:

·         What are some suggestions on good Christian films?

·         Are there any good, new Christian writers out there?

An episode filled with current cultural questions!  A suggestion for a great film for a date night was ‘Risen’ and a suggestion of a musical was ‘Les Misérables’.  Genevieve and Father Sam also spoke about the new tv series, ‘Chosen’.  Do you have any favourites?  Share with us! Contact us on 07502 385 010 and at

4 – 10 December

10: Father Sam Randall and Sister Gemma Simmonds are back to ask more questions from listeners and volunteers.

·         One young listener asks if it is safe for Santa to visit this year.

·         Another listener asks about the media's coverage of Ampleforth College has been biased.

Send your questions to or text/whatsap to 07502 385010.

11 – 17 December

11: In this edition Fr Sam Randall has special guest Dr Elizabeth Corcoran with him to help answer any questions regarding health.  How to relieve anxiety during Advent?  Food to serve to make your guests cheery and healthy.  Please do text your questions to 07502 385 010 or email them to

18 – 24 December

12: What are children asking for this Christmas?  Father Sam Randall Sister Gemma Simmonds, and Helena give suggestions on how their gift requests can be filled in a modern Christian way.  Please do send in what your children are asking for this Christmas: to 07502 385 010 or email them to

25 – 31 December

13: A special edition with Christmas questions.

1 – 7 January

14: Another chance to hear Episode 1.

8 – 14 January

15: Father Sam and Sister Gemma Simmonds are back and answering questions that have been sent in. Young Samuel asks, “Why hadn’t God slowed down the Coronavirus?” and “What are the church’s social teachings for national borders?” and “Christmas lights, can I keep them up all year long?”

15 – 21 January

16: Genevieve Wedgbury joins Father Sam Randall in answering some really tough questions.  Questions about new year's resolutions and also this question sent in from a listener:  With the lockdown, we as a family will be spending a lot of time with each other.  I love my work and I want to continue to do well, but balancing between work (which has become so much harder and busier due to the pandemic), supporting my family, one of which is my older father in law and continuing nurturing my relationship with my wife is not going well.  She has asked me recently, “Sometimes I wonder who you really are married to.”  Any advice?

22 – 28 January

17: Canon Simon Blakesley joins Father Sam Randall and talks about how change in Canon Law comes about, what to do about arguing bishops and suggests how to spend that Christmas money from your mother.  Please do send questions to

29 January – 4 February

18: Questions include:  My parish seems very interested in helping out with CAFOD and other overseas support, yet we don’t have a thriving Bible study or youth group in our church;  I’m new to the Parish and a bit of an introvert;  I was hoping to make new friends in the parish, but there seems to be more outreach and local community building in other Christian churches; it almost seems like people find it easier to raise money for these charities than to sit down and talk about God; have you any suggestions of actions I, a new lay person in the parish could take? What are acolytes? What is the role of a deacon?  Is it just a stepping point to becoming a priest? How does Transubstantiation work? How were the Gospels in the Bible chosen?

5 – 11 February

19: Why are American Catholic Bishops beginning to ban hymns from Mass like ‘All Are Welcome?’ and ‘Lord of the Dance’? What is the church’s role in International Politics? What does it take for someone to be declared a Saint? The bishops of England and Wales are expected to approve a new translation of the Bible for reading at Mass later this year;  what must they consider in deciding what translation is used?  Aren’t they all the same? I’ve been hearing about ‘communities’ of the church such as the Iona Community in Scotland; what’s the difference between a community and a good parish?

12 – 18 February

20: Questions include:  Why does God still let the devil exist?  Why would God send people who don’t believe in him to hell? In the Apostle’s Creed, we say “I believe in One God, the Father almighty“, is it not but there is only ONE, how come there are THREE persons, God the father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit? What is purgatory? Will I actually meet people that have died in heaven or hell?

19 – 25 February

21: Do we need to fast this year during Lent?  Isn’t lockdown and the burdens we’ve had this year enough already? Could you suggest some ways to be more prayerful this Lenten season?  With my parish closed to everything, but Mass, I don’t know where to begin.  Why do we have the rule about fasting from meat?  What’s wrong with meat?  Why is God so angry in the Old Testament?  Is God still angry today?

26 February – 4 March

22: Questions include:  Is this a Catholic initiative and what is The Catholic Women’s Council (CWC) and can I join? What are some ways that we can celebrate International Women’s Day in our parish? Why do Catholics pray to the saints when our Lord in the Gospel taught the disciples (and us) to pray to the Father? Are Jewish people still God’s chosen people? Why are we celebrating Saint Joseph this year?

5 – 11 March

23: Father Sam Randall and Sister Gemma Simmonds answer questions sent in by listeners.  Questions include:  Why did Jesus bring Lazarus back from the dead, When do you have to have a priest present? Mass? Stations of the Cross? Confession? and Many protestants believe that we are saved by faith alone and they say that Catholics believe they can “work” their way into heaven. Is that true?

12 – 18 March

24: Questions include:  Is the Pope Infallible?  If you get divorced, can you receive Holy Communion? Where do aborted foetuses go? Heaven? I remember when I was in school I was told “Limbo”.  What happens to ordained people when they retire? Should we be spending so much money on fixing old churches that are environmentally unfriendly when it would cost less to build more environmentally friendly and accessible for all people? What’s the point of having the Book of Revelation in the Bible? Why are their angels if God can do everything?

19 – 25 March

25: Canon Simon Blakesley answers questions with Father Sam Randall. Questions included:  Why do we even spend time on earth? Why not skip all this suffering and just start off in heaven? What are the rules you have to follow in order to receive communion? Are the rules different in other diocese? Rumour has it that in Cameroon, if you were in a relationship you weren’t allowed to have communion until you were married. How can different dioceses have different rules? What are the rules for Holy Week this year? Can I finally sing? What is the Angelus prayer? I frequently hear a reference to the Canon Law of the Catholic Church. It is my understanding that this is different from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Can you tell me, what is Canon Law? As priests, could you share some special moments in Holy Weeks past that have kept a special place in your memory?

26 March – 1 April

26: Sister Gemma Simmonds and Father Sam answer questions sent into Radio Maria England. Questions include: When does Lent end?  Is it before Palm Sunday? I’ve heard Passover talked about during Holy Week; I guess it is a Jewish festival; what is it and do Catholics observe Passover as well? The Bible talks as if Judas betraying Jesus was all predestined and planned by God, but that makes God out to be vengeful, damning Judas to hell without any real choice about it; we are told that Judas repented before he committed suicide and gave back the silver, would a merciful God really send Judas to hell all the same?  I don’t know much about the apostle John that ends up taking care of Jesus’s body after the crucifixion, could you share with us a little bit more about him; did he do anything else? What happens to a priest if he breaks the law?

2 – 8 April

27: Sister Gemma Simmonds and Father Sam answer questions sent in to RME. Questions include: Where is God in this current COVID Pandemic? Why did it happen? Why do we celebrate Jesus’s rising from the dead on Saturday evening, as three days after Good Friday is Monday? What do bunnies and eggs have to do with Easter? Why did they cover the statues and the cross in church this week? Does the Communion wine have to be alcoholic? What are some of your favourite Easter traditions?

9 – 15 April

28: 9 –11 April: re-broadcast of Episode 27. 12 –15 April: re-broadcast of Episode 8.

16 – 22 April

29: Sister Gemma Simmonds and Father Sam answer a range of questions from listeners including ones received during the programme. I realise that there are so many Jewish traditions , rules and other prayers that I have never heard of; I would have thought Christians would have kept many of the Jewish ways; why don’t Christians follow some of the same teachings at Jewish people?  Why is the Catholic Church holding so many memorials for Prince Philip?  Father Sam was talking about Saint Thomas the other day and mentioned the Gospel of Saint Thomas; could he share more about that? What happened to Nicodemus and why didn’t he stop the pharisees from crucifying Jesus?

23 – 29 April

30: re-broadcast of Episode 7.

30 April – 6 May

31: This week, Sister Gemma Simmonds will be hosting with Canon John Minh, parish priest for Our Lady of Lourdes and Saint John Fisher Parish in Sawston and Cambourne in Cambridgeshire.  Questions include:  Are people going to return, physically, to church with the restrictions lessening? When is someone ready to make their first confession?  My son is 8 and I just don’t know if he understands the whole process.  What are some ways that we can help others around the world recover from the pandemic? I’ve been a catholic all my life and my fiancé’s mother, who is also catholic, suggested we pray a wedding novena.  What are novenas? The Feast of the English Martyrs is coming up on 4 May; as this is Radio Maria England, who is your favourite English Martyr?

7 – 13 May

32: This week, Sister Gemma Simmonds will be hosting with Dr Elizabeth Corcoran (   They will be answering questions ranging from evangelisation to questions about medicines and body health.

21 – 27 May

34: This week, Father Sam and Sister Gemma answer the following questions.  Why is there a Radio Maria England when you can get listen to similar shows through podcasts? Why doesn’t Sister Gemma wear a habit? Do priests always have to wear a dog collar? What’s the point of missionaries anymore; especially missionaries to areas that already have churches? Why are there so many Mary apparitions and not Jesus apparitions? Are the instructions of the church divinely inspired?

11 – 17 June

37: Father Sam and Jane Crone, CAFOD Community Participation Coordinator for parishes and schools in the Diocese of East Anglia answer questions from listeners. I am a confirmation candidate and need to do a service project with my parish and I’m really interested in helping our planet; I’m only 15; any suggestions on how I can help? I’ve read a lot of troubling news coming out of Colombia; Is the church doing anything to help there? The G7 Summit is happening and they will be talking about rebuilding after the Pandemic; does the church have any opinions that it will be sharing? We know that people have had hard financial times during the pandemic; I’ve also switched jobs this past year as it wasn’t feasible to keep working in hospitality; I’ve incurred a lot of debt as well; I’ve had massive help here in England; Is there anything that the church can do to help with debt, besides pray? My children are struggling to get anything out of Live Streamed Mass; have you any resource suggestions? My friend in Lebanon constantly prays for Saint Oscar Romero to intercede for her; why would someone in Lebanon connect with a saint from El Salvador?” . You are very welcome to send in your questions to


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