Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

George Tyrrell and Catholic Modernism

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

George Tyrrell and Catholic Modernism

Article excerpt

George Tyrrell and Catholic Modernism. Edited and introduced by Oliver P. Rafferty. (Dublin: Four Courts Press. Distrib. ISBS, Portland, OR. 2010. Pp. 187. $65.00. ISBN 978-1-846-82236-0.)

This collection of strong contributions to Roman Catholic modernism studies originated from a laudable desire to commemorate George Tyrrell, a so-called modernist and former member of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, on the centenary of his death. Oliver Rafferty's chapter I historically contextualizes what follows. The book's centerpiece is Clara Ginther's superb essay on Tyrrell's seminal article, "The Relation of Theology to Devotion" (1899). Ginther smartly shows how this article gives his corpus coherence. Anthony Maher's equally superb essay on Tyrrell's ecclesiology flows from his understanding of "devotion" as rooted in religious experience, which, in Tyrrell's case, was grounded in his Ignatian spirituality and Christology. For Tyrrell, religious experience is what primarily authorizes, a view that coheres with Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman's view of authority: It is, first of all, internal. Out of a thorough knowledge of Tyrrell's writings, Maher shows how false was the ecclesiology of Pope Pius X and Cardinal Merry del Val compared to Tyrrell's, which inveighed against an idolatrous ultramontanism that led to abuse of authority such as virtually ignoring the religious experience of the laity and regarding bishops as mere delegates of the pope. Readers will find cogent resonances between Tyrrell's ecclesiology and what many Catholics today desperately long for. The richness of these two essays suggests that Ginther and Maher are working on monographs. …

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