This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Tina Beattie thanks the blogosphere

Following a complicated and controversial discussion between respected and learned people (yes, really), such as Chalcedon 451, Joseph Shaw, and Mark Lambert, Professor Tina Beattie has issued a statement, thanking the Catholic blogosphere for pointing out that her letter to the Polish bishops might lead to a minor theological controversy about whether abortion could ever be consistent with Catholic teaching. The Polish bishops have been in a real quandary ever since they received the letter, signed by so many celebrity Catholics. Should they follow the Pope, the Magisterium, Catholic tradition, the Bible, God etc. or should one letter in green ink carry more weight?

Pope, head in hands

"Have we been wrong all along?" asks Pope Francis.

Finally the balance was tipped when Vincent Nichols preached a pro-life sermon, so for the time being the Polish bishops are "staying put" with their patriarchal sexist misogynist attitudes.

The real debate centres on freedom of speech. Should a professor of Catholic studies be allowed to attack Catholic views? Actually, I don't see why not. If a professor of Physics wishes to write to the Royal Society claiming that E=mc2 is wrong, and that it should be E=mc3, then nobody is going to worry about it, except those running nuclear power stations who decide to use the new formula and find that their power stations blow up. Likewise, a professor of French who announces that the French word for "cake" is "chapeau" will never be criticised, except possibly by silly people who end up eating hats in French restaurants.

Paddy Ashdown and a hat

Eating a delicious hat.

Tina's full title is "Professor of Catholic Studies and Director of the Digby Stuart Research Centre for Religion, Society and Human Flourishing". We don't see a problem with that. It doesn't mean that she teaches Catholicism, merely "Catholic Studies". Why, even Richard Dawkins has studied Catholicism - at a beginner's level - and come out against it. Then again, people who go to Roehampton are attracted to it because it is a world centre for Human Flourishing.

Spiritual nourishment, human flourishment

What they're wearing at Roehampton.

Others have sought to prise Prof. Beattie away from her exciting position as theological adviser to CAFOD. This is really only a problem if you take CAFOD seriously as a Catholic charity. Nothing to see here, move on.


  1. Who takes Professor Jimmy Edwards seriously?

    1. Professor Jimmy Edwards! Isn't he dead?

  2. Digby Stuart Research Centre for Religion, Society and Human Flourishing

    I had to Google that as I assumed you had made it up. University of Roehampton??

    They have some interesting research projects. I particularly like this one:

    An exploration of Pope John Paul II’s theological anthropology in the context of his Theology of the Body and the ‘New Feminism’. In engagement with the perspectives and experiences of some Irish Catholic women. Can't wait till it comes out.

  3. Professor Jimmy Edwards is soon to be conanised by his local bishop.