Page 3, 28th April 1944

28th April 1944
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Church, concedes that " the scholars of medieval universities seem to have studied grammar, logic and rhetoric; arithmetic and geometry, astronomy, theology and music. I doubt if the curriculum of any modern university shows so clear and generous a comprehension of what is meant by culture as this old Trivium and Quadrivium."

Dr. Coulton quotes against me C. H. Lea. the American anti-Catholic propagandist, " whose general accuracy is admitted "—by Dr. Coulton, but not by the late Father Thurston, who infuriated Dr. Coulton by remarking that Lea averaged a mistake a page. Dr. Coulton sent Father Thurston eleven and a half pages, selected by a neutral umpire, and challenged him to find " a single patent blunder." Father Thurston found fifteen, none of which Dr. Coulton could defend. It was not only Dr. Lea but Dr. Coulton whose pretensions were exposed by this decisive test, for Dr. Coultern failed to detect any of the fifteen errors which Father Thurston discovered.

Dr. Coulton asserts in your columns that " on none of these points " (the alleged .78 blunders) " did he attempt to produce serious evidence."


The facts are that on August 17, 1933, I wrote to Dr. Coulton asking that I should be given the opportunity to defend these 28 points if he published the conespondcnce, but pointing out that this in effect would develop into a debate for which I was anxious but which he was not. He replied by offering me the right to comment on three of the 28 points, selected by himself. Naturally I declined his ridiculous offer. It is false to represent me as unwilling or unable to discuss any one of the 28 points which he had raised. Dr. Coulton is now in the happy position of being able to practise what he preached to Cardinal Gasquet. No man has made a greater parade of readiness to express regret for errors that have been brooght home to him. I therefore await his apology.

On April 14, 1932, Dr. Coulton drew Father Knox's attention to his challenge to seven well known Catholics to debate Papal Infallibility, and criticised them for their refusal He is indignant that I should revive his old challenge and give it priority over his new challenge to Father Heenan. His strong preference for a new subject to debate is due to the fact that in our correspondence I exposed a blunder of his which he neither attempted to defend nor to withdtaw, the elementary blunder of assuming that Papal Infallibility is conceived by Catholics as a tap which can be turned on at will to answer any questions on faith or morals, such as, for instance, to cite the case mentioned by Dr. Coulton, whether or not the Book of Tobit should or should not be included in the Sacred Canon. This sort of criticism is hardly above the Kensit level.


I have decided not to insist on the Infallibility debate, and to accept Dr. Coulton's last (of many) challenges and to debate the social policy of the Church. It should be possible to maintain in this controversy the standard of courteous and impersonal argument which reviewers noted as an attractive feature of the Knox-Lunn and Joad-Lunn controversies, and it is now up to Dr. Coulton to prove that a discussion in which he is involved need not necessarily develop into a slanging match.


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