Page 1, 30th December 1966

30th December 1966
Page 1
Page 1, 30th December 1966 — Filling academic posts of Charles Davis

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Locations: Rome, Canterbury


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Filling academic posts of Charles Davis

By a Staff Reporter FR. CHARLES DAVIS'S

decision to leave the Church has created a gap in academic and Christian unity circles.

A new editor has had to be named for the monthly Clergy Review and there are now vacancies in the lecturing staff at Heythrop College and on the Joint Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission on Church Unity, which meets in Italy next month.

His contributions to the Newman Society, Catholic Press, and the intellectual life of Britain are expected to be cut back, if not cease altogether.

There is some speculation, however, that he may take on the role of a radical Christian prepared to debate Christian issues outside "institutionalised Christianity".

Fr. Brocard Sewell, editor of the Aylesford Review, said in a letter to the Guardian in answer to an article by Mr. Geoffrey Moorhouse that the latter "had rightly sensed that the departure of the Reverend Charles Davis from the Church of Rome is an event of significance. But one can respect Professor Davis's sincerity and abilities without accepting all of Mr. Moorhouse's evaluation. "To rank Davis with Kling and Congar is to miss the mark. Compared to his predecessor in the chair of dogmatic theology at St. Edmund's, Ware, the late Canon George D. Smith—and I studied under both men—Davis was a very 'lightweight' divine, an able populariser rather than a man of deep theological temper. Nur can Professor Davis's secession be justly compared with Newman's transition from Canterbury to Rome unless with the qualifying words Si parva lice, componere magnis.


"A few months ago Fr. Davis was denouncing vehemently, in the Catholic Herald the innovatory ideas of the contributors to the symposium 'The Future of Catholic Christianity'; more recently he published in the same paper a thoughtful defence of the discipline of clerical celibacy. These writings run clean contrary to Professor Davis's thought as expressed by Mr. Moorhouse and in Mr. Davis's statement to the press. Such contradictions must presumably be explained as the outward signs of an inner conflict, now drastically resolved.

"Professor Davis complains of coldness and faulty human relationships in the Church; but in the Church as in ;a: wider context of human living, we receive warmth in proportion as we are able to give it. If at the late age of 43 Professor Davis has experienced for the first time what a deep human relationship can mean his life has certainly been enriched. But it is reasonable to suppose that this experience has contributed on the unconscious level to a certain 'rationalisation' in his theological thinking.

"One may regret the departure of a 'liberal' who has done much to combat obsolete authoritarian attitudes in the Church; but the consequences are likely to he less earthshaking than Mr. Moorhouse suggests."

"STILL GO ON" Other comments included the following:

Fr. Peter Harris, Professor of theology at Wonersh Seminary, who will be giving the lectures Charles Davis used to give at the Grail, said: "We must still go on standing for what Charles Davis has lectured on and written about over the years. In some ways his present action seems to be a denial of the theology which has made him a source of hope and en


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