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Eamon Duffy talks of ‘the Sovietisation of Catholic intellectual life’ and quotes Newman in defence of Tina Beattie: Newman would disagree

Catholic liberals keep trying to claim Newman as one of themselves, by quoting him out of context: but he was a dedicated scourge of liberalism

By on Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Blessed John Henry Newman (Photo: CNS)

Blessed John Henry Newman (Photo: CNS)

I am very sorry that Professor Eamon Duffy should have seen fit so immoderately to spring to the defence of Professor Tina Beattie, an invitation to whom to take up a fellowship has been withdrawn by the (Catholic) University of San Diego, following that institution’s discovery of her public support for gay unions.

“It is deeply dispiriting”, he writes, “that the President of a Catholic University should characterise academic discussion and debate among Catholics as ‘dissent’, and should seek to suppress academic exchange by black-balling an individual whom the Church has not condemned.”

That wasn’t all, however. “I fear,” he continued, “that by publicly withdrawing this invitation, the University of San Diego has brought academic ignominy on itself, and is colluding in the Sovietisation of Catholic intellectual life which many people feel is one of the saddest features of the contemporary Church”. In other words this is also a direct attack on the pontificate of Pope Benedict, and one couched in language which is so grossly over the top as simply to discredit not only this particular attack, but even to some extent its perpetrator.

As I say, I am very sorry about this. Professor Duffy is a very good historian indeed, that rarest of academic types who is both a painstaking scholar and is also compulsively readable. Two of his splendid books in particular — most recently Fires of Faith, a fascinating delineation, inter alia, of the intelligent and responsive Catholicism reintroduced into England by Cardinal Pole and Mary Tudor (good Queen Mary) and tragically lost after it was ruthlessly suppressed by Elizabeth I (Bloody Bess) — have greatly contributed to making me the Catholic bigot I am today.

Professor Duffy is, nevertheless, generally considered to be something of a theological liberal; I can’t quite see why he is, though. It is yet another illustration, perhaps, that sound scholarship in one area doesn’t necessarily bring wisdom elsewhere (another famous illustration of this phenomenon was one of C S Lewis’s targets, the Anglican Bishop John Robinson, a sound conservative Biblical scholar but a theological loony, even by Anglican standards).

All the same it is a puzzle to me that the author of The Stripping of the Altars should, for instance, be so keen on warm ecumenical relations with the Church of England. He has written that Rowan Williams’s “open-hearted invitation” [yuck] to Fr Timothy Radcliffe to write the official Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent book for 2009 was “a sign that the ecumenical landscape is by no means so barren as we sometimes fear” — fear? What is so fearsome about the recognition of reality? But let it pass.

In his defence of Professor Beattie, Professor Duffy quotes John Henry Newman, predictably perhaps, woefully out of context: claiming Newman in this way is, of course, an established liberal tactic; usually, it is the Letter to the Duke of Norfolk which is thus abused in an attempt to paint Newman, that wonderfully acerbic doctrinal rigorist and scourge of liberalism (which he describes in the Apologia as “false liberty of thought”) as being a liberal himself. I think Professor Duffy’s quotation must be from The Idea of a University (though I have been unable, after several digital scans of Newman’s works, to discover this passage — can anyone identify it?) Newman, he says, “criticised the ‘shortsightedness’ of those who ‘have thought that the strictest Catholic University could by its rules and its teachings exclude intellectual challenges to faith. The cultivation of the intellect involves that danger, and where it is absolutely excluded, there is no cultivation’.”

But this simply cannot be applied as a defence of Professor Beattie. For a start, it is clear that Newman was writing about intellectual challenges from outside the Church and not from within the community of faith. Newman made absolutely unambiguous his belief that in modern conditions a specifically Catholic University ought to exclude heresy, so that its enemies were beyond its boundaries and not within them. It is, he wrote in The Idea of a University “one great advantage of an age in which unbelief speaks out, that Faith can speak out too; that, if falsehood assails Truth, Truth can assail falsehood. In such an age it is possible to found a University more emphatically Catholic than could be set up in the middle age, because Truth can entrench itself carefully, and define its own profession severely, and display its colours unequivocally, by occasion of that very unbelief which so shamelessly vaunts itself. And a kindred advantage to this is the confidence which, in such an age, we can place in all who are around us, so that we need look for no foes but those who are in the enemy’s camp.”

That is precisely what San Diego University presumably wants to do by withdrawing its invitation to Professor Beattie, an invitation it should perhaps never have issued in the first place. A few inquiries about Professor Beatty would have elicited that she was already well-known for her rejection of the authority for Catholics of the Magisterium of the Church (she is a trustee of and regular contributor to The Tablet).

Here’s a sample of her writing, from her book God’s Mother, Eve’s Advocate (p 80):

“Today it [the Mass] has become an act of (homo) sexual intercourse… In our own age, however, the female body is recognised as equal but different and is still incapable of representing Christ, because Christ’s kenotic self-giving has become implicitly associated with the male orgasm, with all the pagan overtones that this implies… women have become bystanders in the metaphysical consummation of homosexual love, a marriage between men and God in which the male body is both the masculine bridegroom and the female bride, the masculine God and the female creature, the masculine Christ and the feminine Church.”

In a Catholic University, says Newman, “we need look for no foes but those who are in the enemy’s camp”. Then, maybe: but not now — and that’s the problem. Elsewhere in the same discourse, Newman says that in his own time, the Church “has … a direct command and a reliable influence over her own institutions, which was wanting in the middle ages. A University is her possession in these times, as well as her creation: nor has she the need, which once was so urgent, to expel heresies from her pale, which have now their own centres of attraction elsewhere, and spontaneously take their departure. Secular advantages no longer present an inducement to hypocrisy, and her members in consequence have the consolation of being able to be sure of each other”.

But the Church in our own times no longer has that “direct command and… reliable influence over her own institutions” that Newman believed was essential; and the old mediaeval imperative to “expel heresies from her pale” has returned as an “urgent need” for the modern Catholic University. Heresies no longer “spontaneously take their departure” as they did in Newman’s day; now, they must be driven out. There can surely be little doubt that Newman of all people would have been horrified at the idea of Tina Beattie teaching young Catholics, in a Catholic University, not only about the desirability of gay marriage and the need to defy the Church’s teachings about that, but about so much else besides.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    Expressing difficulties with Catholic Doctrine and critical analysis of that Doctrine within a University is one thing but going public to proclaim that same-sex marriage should be supported by Catholics in direct contravention of very clear teaching by the Church is quite another thing.  Professor Duffy has failed to make that distinction.

    However one expects of academics that they should try and tell the truth.  To take the words of Cardinal Hume totally out of context and pretend that he could have supported same-sex marriage when in fact elsewhere in the same document he wrote that such was unacceptable in Catholic teaching is thoroughly dishonest.  Dr Beattie’s credibility as an academic is utterly undermined.  Further it is defamatory of the late Cardinal.

    But that is by the way.   What is serious is that someone with a position in a Catholic educational institution should publicly encourage Catholics to defy the teaching of the Church.  She should be removed if she does not recant.

    However I understand that she and her colleagues are removing the word “Catholic” from the title of her institution.  Is that not confirmation of apostasy?

  • Chetwode

    Shame on you Dr Oddie.  You accuse Professor Duffy of quoting Blessed John Henry Newman out of context and then you do precisely that with respect to Professor Beatie.  I quote from Professor Beattie’s own public statement of her theological positions, particularly as it refers to “God’s Mother, Eve’s Advocate”:

     “I was writing an extended critique of the
    theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar, whose writings I have studied for a number
    of years. My comments were made in the context of my deep concern over his
    highly sexualised representation of the Mass. This criticism is shared by a
    number of others who have written on von Balthasar. The suggestion that I mock
    the Mass because I criticise another theologian’s interpretation is outrageous. ”
    Incidentally, Professor Beattie was not writing in support of gay unions per se.  She was supporting the view that Catholics “using fully informed consciences” could support same-sex civil marriage. Unless I am mistaken Vatican II “Declaration On Human Dignity” states that “In all one’s activity one is bound to follow one’s conscience faithfully.”  Or will you accuse me of quoting out of context too?

  • Caterina

    Thank you. If I might be somewhat contrarian, I think Duffy’s beef is with the Protestants in the Church of England and the Catholics in the Church of Rome. Anglicanism in its High Church Hegelian variety (think Figgis, Lux Mundi) is the real Church in England. For many of the good and great Anglicans and Catholics (e.g. the Blairs) Rowan was considered (many years ago) the man who would bridge the gap between the Catholic Church and the C of E. By sheer force of English intellect and holiness Rowan was supposed to win over the stupid foreigners and a merger would ensue so that the Roman Church in England would just fade away and the Protestants could go and live in Northern Ireland. Well that idea has not worked out too well. And they are not pleased with a certain German theologian who had the temerity to become Pope and who was known to have described the Anglican Church as an ‘international talking shop’.

  • Enid Ecumaniac

    We at the St. Martin Luther Institute of Advanced Ecumenical Heresy have recently been “in touch” via an ouija board with the shades of such luminaries as Marx, Engels, Comrades Yezhov, Beria and Mao and we can state categorically that all of them are very happy with the acceptance into Catholic theology of militant atheistic thinking, which concentrates only on this world and has led to such great developments as “justice and peace”, ecumania and the democratic calls from the Catholic pew for priestesses, the sanctification of homosexuality and even paedophilia (remember the Belgian Catechism, anyone?). 

    Thus has the Nazarean been overthrown, which means we at the Institute can develop our own vision of a modern Christianity without the Ten Commandments (which is what modern Catholicisim is all about, right?), supplemented by a loving care of our chakras with jasmine-scented massage oil.

  • Enid Ecumaniac

    Vatican II! The liberation of the Catholic masses from centuries of enslavement to “holiness”, that weapon of the exploiting classes from Constantine to Pius XII! 

    Thank you for pointing out Vatican II’s role is destroying the moribund organisation set up by that “Christ” character so that we can now liberate ourselves and the groaning proletariat from the clutches of factory owners who suck the blood of the Workers through gold-plated straws. 

    Do you ecumenate Chetwode? You are very welcome to our next event, which will take place at midnight in a graveyard yet to be announced. 

  • Nicolas Bellord

    A fully informed conscience would tell you that same-sex marriages are contrary to the doctrines of the Church.  What more does a Catholic need?

  • Gerald Fitzgerald

    Duffy’s point is too large for this article’s writer to see, and indeed, so too, is Beatty’s point around the necessary corrective refeminization of western culture. This is so necessary if we are to empower the next generation’s capacity for undertaking the necessary transformation of life itself. In short he lives in a world that no longer exists. In the emergent leaderless culture, leading one’s own life out of deep commitment to personal integrity is where leadership will reside, an undertaking that will have the attentive
    reprivilege their own personal femininity. As Leo xiii would have it: cheer on the Duffys and the Beattys in “making the ancient new”….live as one loved rather than as one so “right” in making
    others so “wrong”. We have the masculine measurables nailed now
    for the last 400 years. Reprivilege the immeasurables like love,
    happiness and with St. Paul have your scholarship sing: “What I
    want is your complete happiness”… That is the compassionate feminine speaking. Know yourself first and already loved and putting this litany of accusations on the Duffys and Beattys that you create as so arrayed against you and OUR church, will give way to acknowledgment and affinity as THE way forward. People want to be celebrated and celebrate themselves as God’s glory fully alive….aplay in the space of Daly’s and Iraneus’s “ludic celebration”….meet me in that field where we can both be owned by Life’s Passionate Claim upon us and not by Orthodoxy’s Bullying Claim(s) upon us, in today’s swingeing, sneering,unhappy, derogatory and too often vitriolic, exchanges from both sides. Let’s work towards Declarations of INTER-dependence, Shared Enquiry and Mutual Upbuilding that will give us a generative clearing, capable of Humane Pluriversity.

  • Guest

    The Courtyard of the Gentiles: Apart from Professor Beattie who else could speak to the average Guardian reading secularist,using standard Feminist analysis? We know how easy it is to be goaded into hyperbole or obscurantism that undermines a position.
    How is a well meaning undergraduate or member of the public to respond when, on enquiry, the door of faith is apparently slammed shut. 

  • Nicolas Bellord

    I am afraid I do not follow Beattie’s argument.  Is she saying that she was quoting von Balthasar in order to demolish him or what?  Was it von Balthasar who claimed that the mass had become an act of [homo]sexual intercourse?  Or is this her interpretation of where von Balthasar’s writing leads to.

    Beattie has said she will not discuss this with us bloggers so perhaps you could explain?

  • aearon43

    I can’t quite tell for sure whether this is supposed to be satirical or not, but I don’t think it is.

    The point here seems to be that we should all just “go along to get along,” think positively, and don’t be dour sticks in the mud. I agree that nice, pleasant people are nice and pleasant to be around. However, I’m not sure you’re aware that it is the doctrine of the Catholic Church it is possible for us to commit mortal sins which can result in eternal damnation.
    So it is not just being a jerk for the fun of it, but an act of charity to attempt to (charitably and politely yes, but firmly) correct those apparently in error and to “admonish the sinner”. (You’ll recall the corporal work of mercy.) This is why children often find their mothers. to be annoying when they say things like, “no you can’t eat ice cream instead of vegetables for dinner.”

    The “everyone’s just wonderful” type of world view you seem to hold is not only childish and naive, but also negligent of our duty to follow the Good Shepherd. We are not doing anyone a favor by ignoring what is dangerous to their eternal soul.

  • Ghengis

    My country has been checkmated by Antonio Gramsci, the greatest Marxist promoter, who said that society would have to be taken over gradually through the media, universities, and the Churches. This was his game plan and we can see that it has been followed successfully as the media, universities, and churches are the greatest sources of liberal thought. The solution is to first recognize that it has actually happened and then we must reverse it at the root levels.

  • Matthew Hazell

    Dr Oddie:

    Prof. Duffy’s Newman quote that you cannot find can, in part, be found in Wilfred Ward’s “Life of Cardinal Newman”, vol. 2, chap. 29; the relevant section can be found here: 

    As you will be able to gather from the page, Ward himself appears to be quoting from one of Newman’s letters, written on Apr 7, 1872, to J.S. Northcote. I would have thought that the whole letter would be in the OUP’s “Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman”, vol. 26, and I would assume that it is this letter that Prof. Duffy is ultimately citing in his correspondence to the Tablet.

    Doesn’t change the fact that Prof. Duffy takes Newman out of context, though. :-)

  • Matthew Hazell

    Prof. Beattie has probably said she’s not discussing it because she wants you to buy her book(s). We non-university-employed Catholic plebs can’t possibly have such ground-breaking theological musings for free…

    …or is that too cynical…?

  • Nesbyth

    And to add to the good points made here by aearon 43, Bishop Fulton Sheen once said, “the gravest error of nice people is the denial of sin.”

  • Kevin

    This is a sound argument.

    Catholic intellectuals should be working on the details of complex systems, as was once done in the case of legal science, for example, not indulging fantasies.

  • scary goat

    Good grief!  That passage from Tina Beatty’s writing is positively cringe-worthy.  It makes me feel embarrassed  that any woman could write such a load of ………I can’t find a suitable word for it.  What an embarrassment to woman-kind.  I need to go and hide under a rock somewhere for a while till everyone forgets about it.  I assure you all this is not typical of female thinking.

  • paulpriest

     add ‘kerygma’ and ‘kenosis’ and ‘from an eschatological perspective’ and you would have encompassed everything that’s been wrong with ‘catholic’ theology for the past fifty years…

    I’m driven to tears of despondency and fury…

    This is war…and there are two sides…choose…or get out of our way

  • paulpriest

     and from GKC :

    “But that is only because evil always wins through the strength of its
    splendid dupes; and there has in all ages been a disastrous alliance
    between abnormal innocence and abnormal sin.

    Of these who are deceived I
    shall speak of course as we all do of such instruments; judging them by
    the good they think they are doing, and not by the evil which they really

  • W Oddie

    Precisely. Her self-defence doesn’t work: it clearly WASN’T von Balthasar who said the Mass had become an act of (homo) sexual intercourse. ITts BEATTIE who’s saying that. 

  • Robin L

    Eamonn Duffy blandly ignores the ideological circumstances in which the Church is placed. As Catholics we have been faced by an increasingly implacable and hostile secularism borne along
    a wave of anti-Catholicism and the usual anti-Clericalism, some of it arising from recent events surrounding sexual abuse but most of it residual junk left over from the past.
    Eamonn Duffy’s books are excellent and he is a good scholar but some of the points he makes in The Stripping of the Altars ominously reverberate in the present.
    A recent article in the Catholic Herald tells of the recent death of a journalist’s brother in Southern Ireland, recounting the care and collective action by ordinary members of the public, mainly strangers,
    in paying respects to the dead and following the hearse by walking behind it from the dead man’s home to the Church. The journalist rightly claims that the natural recognition and respect for death
    is a hallmark of a Christian society, a ritual pattern retained by the Irish in spite of the attacks there on the Church.
    He compares the rather soulless ethos in Britain where death is dealt with peremptorily and with scant public acknowledgement and where there is a widespread fear and often simple indifference to death.
    In the Stripping of the altars Eamon Duffy says:
      ‘But I also suggest that the cult of the dead, so central in the pieties of every late 
       medieval Catholic, was also in an important and often overlooked sense a cult of the living, a way of
       articulating convictions about the extent and ordering of the human community,
       and hence of what it was to be human. In this perspective, the Reformation
       attack on the cult of the dead was more than a polemic against a ‘false’ metaphysical
       belief: it was an attempt to redefine the boundaries of human community, and in an act
       of exorcism, to limit the claims of the past, and the people of the past, on the people of the present.’

    I would respectfully suggest that Professor Beattie’s work is a symptom of a similar movement.
    However Eamon Duffy states in a later passage in the same book that the dominant and preponderant influence over the course of the Protestant Reformation (and by implication the destruction of the old traditional religion) was the influence and power of dissident intellectuals who formed alliances with mercantilists and  other foreign dissidents, resulting in the steady and progressive destruction of the 
    sensus fidelium and the devotions of the ordinary faithful who were solidly and prayerfully supportive
    of Catholic ritual.
    Finally Professor Beattie’s stance on patriarchy (therefore on father figures)is not widely favoured and remains a serious practical problem in a dissolute and deracinated secular culture without any 
    roots in tradition, with children growing up in fatherless families and broken marriages.
    Susan Greenfield (the neurological scholar) has written on the dangers of  the invention and imposition of recently constructed sexual identities which set up deep inner and outer conflicts with the deeper sense of self, the true self.
    It looks like Eamon Duffy, who is right about the freedom to thinki and publish but like others has abstracted that right from the context and circumstances of Professor Beattie’s audiences.
    ‘Sovietisation’ applied to authority in the Church sounds wild to me, given that Tina Beattie is
    using words provocatively and indecently when speaking of Holy (yes Holy) Mass. ‘Orgasm
    is an obsession with certain feminists, though I have never heard Luce Irigary use the word. 
    The Mass is truly a real treasure and gift to all of us involving God’s own self-giving. I cannot speak for other Catholics but at Mass I experience sorrow and quiet thankfulness for the costly love of
    returning us all to our home in Paradise!

  • teigitur

    When we cut to the chase; it seems to me that Ms Beattie never really left her PROTESTantism behind. She seems to think she can do and say as she pleases and still be part of The Body. A popular notion today. She states in a recent blog she now feels uncomfortable in the RCC. I m not quite sure what she thought she was entering in 1987. But it does not change because individuals think it should.

  • Rizzo The Bear

    You are right.

    Neither Duffy nor Beatty have an argument at all. They haven’t got a prayer between them.

    Bringing in the good name of Blessed John Henry Newman and twisting Cardinal Hume smacks of desperation and the attempt to clutch greasy straws.

    They are another bunch of spoilt academics who bring in the utterly insulting an defamory accusation of ‘Sovietisation’ because they have been told they are wrong, what they are lecturing about is against the Church and is seriously flawed.

    There are enough of these people about who twist things to suit themselves and push their agenda against the Church. They are the ones who are Sovietising, not the Church!

  • srdc

    Where were these people when this was happening on the other side? When Humane Vitae Speakers were being banned in Catholic universities. When priests were being expelled from seminaries for being too Catholic.

    Dissidents seem bent on attacking everybody who is actually Catholic, but cry wolf when they are told they cannot lie and tell others their views are Catholic theology.

  • srdc

    You might want to actually read the definition of informed conscience in the same paper that you quote from.

  • Parasum

    “I am very sorry that Professor Eamon Duffy should have seen fit so immoderately to spring to the defence of Professor Tina Beattie,…”

    ## That remark supports Professor Duffy’s point. The most convincing evidence for an idea is that which is unintentionally provided by its opponents. 

    “In other words this is also a direct attack on the pontificate of Pope Benedict, and one couched in language which is so grossly over the top as simply to discredit not only this particular attack, but even to some extent its perpetrator.”

    ## What is wrong with attacking it ? The Prophets allowed themselves to use language which makes Professor Duffy sound like a Papal toady. As for the language directed against religious authorities by Jesus in Matthew 23, its vehemence makes the “direct attack on the pontificate of Pope Benedict…couched in language which is so grossly over the top as simply to discredit not only this particular attack, but even to some extent its perpetrator” look servile.  

    Whether someone is or is not liberal or not, is neither here nor there. To reduce the issue to one of partisan rivalry is to miss the point; for Soviet-minded attention to ideological purity & towing of the Party line by members of the Party, on pain of their being reckoned dissidents, non-persons or both, is deplorable; whether the offender be Professor Beattie, or a priest driven from his parish for offering the 1962 Mass. To treat the Church as the USSR with a halo is wrong in itself – for who is harmed, & whether anyone is harmed, is beside the point. To decry people as liberals or traditionalists or conservatives, & to imply that for some reason they need not be defended when wronged or apparently wronged, is to turn the Church into a sect of the like-minded. This polemical approach to others is typical of Fundamentalism, & of the Fundamentalist apocalyptic sect AKA Communism. The people we should defend are the very ones whose ideas we might not approve. The “children of this world” love their own kind – for Christians to love only their own kind is no more than others do. More than that us required of us.

  • Parasum

    She may be *saying* it – but that pasage does not explain what she *means* by it. Psalm 14.1 begins “There is no G/god” – on the reasoning that the Bible is totally inerrant, & that every word is to be accepted as inerrant, that would be an inerrant proclamation of atheism. The Bible is full of blasphemies – and some of them are basic to Christian belief. To us, they are not blasphemies – to the Jews, they certainly were. That a passage found objectionable by some readers is present in a book,is often no guide to whether the objectionable elements of it are the position held by the book’s author.
    Catholic Saints have written books containing detailed discussions of countless immoralities, including lying, parricide, theft, regicide & all sorts of things. That a moral issue is discussed, and its pros & cons analysed, & authorities quoted on all sides of the argument, does not mean that the author in any way approves of it. This very blunder has been made against the writings of St. Alphonsus Liguori – one is doing no more here than cite part of what Newman wrote in his defence of him in the “Apologia pro Vita Sua”. 

  • Nicolas Bellord

    Really Parasum!  The Knox version of psalm 13(14) reads:

    “There is no God above us, is the fond thought of reckless hearts; warped natures everywhere and hateful lives!”

    The psalmist makes it clear by the context that the thought “There is no God” is not his view!

    Now where in Beattie’s book is the context that makes it clear that she does not regard the mass as an act of [homo]sexual intercourse?  Please spell it out.  I have asked Chetwode to do this but so far he has failed to do so.  Beattie will not discuss such matters with us mere bloggers.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    Beattie has written on her blog as follows:  
    “The British academic system may be almost unique in the world today, insofar as it accommodates theology as a discipline capable of being taught from different confessional and non-confessional perspectives, within the secular, publicly-funded university system. For theologians like myself, this constitutes a space of enviable academic freedom insofar as our jobs are not vulnerable to pressure from Church authorities. The Vice Chancellor of the University of Roehampton has been an exemplary model of what this means during recent cancellations of my activities, when he has robustly defended my academic freedom. However, it also brings with it significant responsibilities to both the academic community and the Church, which sometimes make quite different demands upon theologians such as myself who seek to navigate the choppy waters between the Scylla of potentially unrestrained and irresponsible academic freedom (fuelled by demands for demonstrable ‘impact’) and the Charybdis of excessively zealous and narrow interpretations of Catholic doctrine (fuelled by demands for obedience and conformity).”

    Now the Digby Stuart college was founded as a Catholic institution.  But presumably they have since allied themselves with the State with the result that Beattie can cock a snook at the Church authorities.  As Deacon Nick on his ProtectthePope blog has reported the ‘Digby Stuart Research Centre for Catholic Studies’ has decided to drop the word “Catholic” from their title.  Deacon Nick further reports:

    “Prof. Beattie explains that this decision was taken by the management committee of the Centre, all of whom are Catholic academics, including two priests. The website names the management team as: Prof. Tina Beattie, Prof. John Eade, Prof. Suzy Harris (Principal, Digby Stuart College), Dr Claire Ozanne, Rev. Augusto Zampini. (The identity of the other Catholic priest is not given on Roehampton’s website).”

    So something started off as a Catholic institution is now being secularised and the “Church authorities” do nothing.  Presumably there was money and prestige in associating the college with the State.

    Things used to be different.  In 1948 Cardinal Griffin sought assurances from Aneurin Bevan that if the Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth were to join the National Health Service then Catholic ethics would be respected.  Bevan refused so the Hospital stayed outside the NHS.

    Latterly of course things have changed and the Hospital has got closer to the NHS and when they proposed dropping Catholic ethics altogether Cardinal Cormac O’Connor (in contrast to Cardinal Hume) raised no effective objection.  It was the Charity Commission who pointed out that this was not legally possible.  But the NHS were allowed in and are not bound by Catholic ethics.   Of course there was money in  it.

    Our adoption agencies have gone the same way and our schools will largely follow the money on same-sex marriage education.  Is the present cafuffle at St Mary’s Twickenham another example? 

     The Catholic Church in this country is selling its inheritance for a mess of pottage or perhaps thirty pieces of silver.

    I sometimes wonder whether that nice piece of Byzantine architecture off Victoria Street will not go the way of St Sophia.

  • Dorotheus

    Talking about quoting out of context, you obviously have not read the book of Prof. Beattie’s from which your excerpt comes. The impression you give of it is most misleading. I for one am very glad that scholars like Eamon Duffy are starting to resist the new breed of apologists for papal dictatorship who disgracefully enlist Newman in support of their perverse creed of worshipping power in place of God. 
    Mr. Bellord failed to recognise that Beattie said that same-sex marriage could be supported by Catholics, not that it should be. I do not agree with her, but find the idea of censoring free debate odious, especially when conducted in the name of the God of truth. Not everyone thinks that the teaching of “the Church” (= the papacy) is always indisputably true. Nor does the Church itself, seeing that only one recent statement of the magisterium (the 1950 definition of the Assumption) meets its criteria of infallibility. Every other statement, however weighty or authoritative, is in the end only opinion, which cannot be binding on anyone and which everyone is free to disagree with.

  • josephmatte

    Sad to see such a good historian makin such an unfortunate comment

  • Nicolas Bellord

    Dorotheus:  If  you have read Beattie’s book then perhaps you could enlighten us as the context which Beattie and yourself feel has been ignored.  She wrote the words:

    “today it [the Mass] has become an act of (homo)sexual intercourse.”

    Normally if a person writes such a sentence then one is entitled to assume that they mean it unless they are writing a fairy story or a novel.  Or are you saying that this is a quote from somebody else’s writings?  Or is she saying that a particular attitude could lead to such a statement?  If so then does she make it clear that she does not support that statement?  

    As to what Beattie said about same-sex marriage I was tempted to point to the old retort to the child who asks if he can leave the table “You can but you may not”.
    However what she actually said was:

    “We therefore suggest that it is perfectly proper for Catholics, using their fully informed consciences, to support the legal extension of civil marriage to same-sex couples.”

    Now if you say something is “perfectly proper” you imply approval not just permission.  In my view it is not permissible for a Catholic to support same sex marriage in light of the teaching of the Church.  Indeed it is not permissible in the light of natural law.  Professor John Finnis regards heterosexual marriage as one of the fundamental goods which is obvious to anyone.

    However your view of the teaching of the Church seems to be fundamentally erroneous if you think it only consists of infallible definitions such as that of the Assumption.  I am afraid Catholics are bound by a great deal more but no doubt we will have to agree to differ on this.

    Further this is not a discussion about free speech.  It is about somebody who claims to be a Catholic theologian and a Director of what was previously thought to be a Catholic institution using their position to promote something in direct contradiction to the very clear teaching of the Church on marriage.  She should stop calling herself a Catholic theologian and resign from any Catholic institution that pretends to teach the faith and she can then say and write what she likes – although in doing so she would be wise to have regard to the eternal destination of her soul – and probably nobody will take much notice.

  • rjt1

    Can’t see why Prof. Duffy is making a fuss: the University of San Diego does not have a moral obligation to invite Prof Beattie. Surely they are free to withdraw their invitation - or perhaps only certain people have freedom? Is there some suggestion that they were coerced or did they just recognise that inviting her was contrary to their mandate?

  • rjt1

    Conscience is not a faculty for determining the principles of morality but a faculty for applying them. This is where dissenters go wrong. They think that following your conscience means deciding what the principles are and then following those.

    Our conscience must obey the truth; since the truth is taught by the Catholic Church, our conscience must be directed by the teaching of the Church.

  • Benedict Carter

    “Let’s work towards Declarations of INTER-dependence, Shared Enquiry and Mutual Upbuilding that will give us a generative clearing, capable of Humane Pluriversity.”

    Let’s work towards a ridculous use of capital letters in an attempt to give meaning to hippy nonsense.

  • Benedict Carter

    Good to see dissidents from the Church’s moral teaching such as Beattie under some pressure from the Catholic Herald at least.

    It would be better to see them under some pressure from the Bishops but that of course is too much to hope for in these days of the Great Apostasy. 

    Look, let’s call a spade a spade for God’s sake. 

    Beattie and her ilk are all about the overthrow of the moral law and the entire re-casting of Catholicism in the crucible of Christ minus the Ten commandments, Original Sin, personal sin and hell.

    That’s why she hides behind the “academic freedom” she prates on about – whereas a Catholic theologian ALWAYS and EVERY TIME clothes himself with the constant teaching of the Church which was founded by Jesus Christ. 

    These modern “theologians” are going to find out when they die that messing with His Church is perhaps the ONE thing Christ will not tolerate from anyone, period.

  • Alba


  • Alba

    I disagree. If the Uniersity of San Diego did not approve of Tina Beattie’s views (and they would have good reason not to!) they should not have invited her in the first place. But having once issued the invitation, they should not have rescinded it: there is a question of academic freedom here. This is not a parallel case to, for instance, Notre Shame giving a gong to Obama.

  • celtictaff

    Surely it’s time to lift the veil of deceit, The liberals and their ungodly libertarian ideals will be the destruction of the church. Divide and conquer is their plan of attack, one only has to look at the Protestant invention to see how Satan divides and despoils all before him. Indeed the Church of England should be a shining example of his work, division, disunity and soon disestablishment.
    Oh, I mention Satan, I know some liberals would prefer his name isn’t mentioned, as they would have you believe he doesn’t exist, if you think that, you’re in for a nasty shock. 

  • Alba

    teigitur, his theology, dubious or not,  is not primarily what this is about. He is objecting to a set of adademics gagging a fellow academic, and he is right to do so. The university made two errors: first, in that they invited Beattie at al; and second, in then trying to gag her.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    The University uninvited Beattie as a result of her letter to The Times in August.  I suspect that she was originally invited well before that.  It is not a question of academic freedom but one of misusing one’s position in a dishonest manner contrary to the teaching of the Church which she is supposed to be upholding.

  • Alba

    Nicolas, it is indeed a matter of academic freedom. Imagine the situation reversed: a traditional, orthodox Catholic theologian is invited to speak by the theology faculty at a secular university. Then the invitation is rescinded because the theologian’s well-known views on contraception and abortion conflict with the policy of the university. We Catholics would rightly condemn the university for failing to respect academic freedom.

    Beattie has had well-known liberal positions on sexuality for a long time. If the university were unaware of this, they did not do their research properly. In my view, the invitation was a mstake from the start, and this has now been compounded by a bungled attempt by academics to gag another academic. The outcome might even be greater sympathy for her views.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    I do not think that is an accurate analogy.  It is a question of what the invitee is pretending to be.  You do not specify what position your Orthodox Catholic theologian holds.  Dr Beattie pretends to be a Catholic theologian and per se that implies orthodoxy and further is the Director of a supposedly Catholic institution.  Academic freedom may tolerate discussion of Catholic teaching and generally having liberal views.  However what Dr Lyons objected to was a letter in The Times (written at the prompting of the homosexual lobby) which openly said that it was proper to support same-sex marriage in straight conflict with the teaching of the Church.
    If a Bishop were to write a similar letter saying that it was proper for Catholics to deny the divinity of Christ would one not call for his resignation and certainly not given him a platform in a Catholic institution?

    Dr Beattie is perfectly free to write and say what she likes but it is dishonest to continue to call herself a Catholic theologian when she openly advocates disobedience to the teaching of the Church. 

    As an academic who took quotes entirely out of context from a statement by Cardinal she has demonstrated a lack of honesty as an academic.

    She accuses bloggers of taking her disgusting remarks about the Mass out of context but so far no-one has been able to provide what context she claims these remarks were taken out of.

  • GFFM

    It is not surprising that Duffy would defend Tina Beattie. I like much of Duffy’s work and it has helped me to understand much about Catholicism before the English Reformation. His work has real intellectual merit in many ways. His intemperate outburst in Beattie’s defense is sad indeed. Beattie’s work is mostly intellectually warped. There is a kind of willful misunderstanding  in her work of Church teaching on sexuality, life issues, the meaning of marriage, sacrament,  fundamental morality, and  ordination. She twists Von Balthasar’s mysticism in some very disturbing and I think dishonest ways. Duffy’s use of the word Sovietisation is  a bit pathetic. The oppression of the Church during the English Reformation was tantamount to totalitarian oppression; dissinviting Tina Beattie from speaking at Catholic institutions is the right of the Church to defend Her integrity and is hardly totalitarian. The shrill hyperbole of Beattie and Duffy and so many others within the Church who expect no push back from the Church’s bishops and her loyal, educated faithful on their heterodox opinions  is tiresome. I for one am sick of it. I have grown up with it and have rebelled against the constant attempts by many of my professors to subvert the Church’s teaching. Beattie’s “theological” opinions are old, dessicated, completely relativistic and based upon a tired and barren ideological position which has lead many astray. Moreover, her relationship to the Church is parasitic. Without the moniker of “Catholic theologian” no one would pay attention to her tiresome 1970s brand of feminism which a younger generation of Catholic woman finds completely sterile.

  • stan zorin

    “I assure you all this is not typical of female thinking.”
    It is typical thinking of a female who is aping thinking of a progressive male.

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