Page 1, 29th September 1972

29th September 1972
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Page 1, 29th September 1972 — Bishops back `heretical' Fr. Richards
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Bishops back `heretical' Fr. Richards

By JOHN PORTER

FORMER Corpus Christi College Principal, Fr. Hubert Richards, arrived back in Britain this week leaving behind him a storm of controversy following his lecture tour in New Zealand. • Publicly branded as a heretic by two of the country's most prominent priests, his views have been defended by Bishop Delargey of Auckland and Bishop Ashby of Christchurch. Bishop Delargey, who invited Fr. Richards there, said be believed the English Catechetical expert "over-rated the theological know-how and background reading of his audience." "He paid us a compliment we didn't deserve and took into too little account the state of cultural shock in which he left many of his hearers exposed to theological exploration for the first time.

"I made it my business to sitin on one complete course over three days and I am convinced that no matter how many words some arch-critics wrote down they simply didn't listen. They had already fixed Father Richards in a category of their own making before they arrived and they were not prepared to hear him deny it."

Doom

The Bishop said "perhaps Father Richards did dish out meat when he should have offered milk," but added, "this is hardly preaching heresy.

"Some prophets of doom are concerned that the New Zealand Bishops have had Father Richards lecturing to teachers of Christian doctrine. My personal view is that so few scholars in New Zealand are competent and willing to explore and explain the new approaches urgently needed by the pastoral needs of our time."

Father Richards, who had an appointment with Cardinal Heenan in London on Tuesday, said the Cardinal had heard about the controversy but hadn't got the full documentation. "He was interested to know what my views were," he told me.

The attacks on Father Richards have come from Father P. Durning, 0.P., and Father G. H. Duggan, S.M., and the New Zealand Tablet, a National Catholic magazine.

"I have been accused of heresy but I would like these people to specify what heresy is," said Father Richards.

Selective

"The two priests have quoted me selectively and out of context on statements, all of which I would like to qualify. 1 do realise, however, that some things I have said would seem extremely strange and new to someone who has not delved into that aspect of theology. But the assessments are distortions of my views."

He was not surprised at the reaction to his lectures. "I would have expected the same reaction in this country — two people to have written to the press and 500 people delighted."

Writing a lengthy article in the Tablet, Father P. Durning, 0.P., summarised Father Richards' views thus: "1. There are not two worlds, but one, and, therefore, God cannot be thought of apart from this world. It is inconceivable




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