Prof. Paul D. Murray, the newly appointed consultor to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the President of the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain (2012-14), has written a letter in support of Prof. Beattie and protesting the cancellation of her fellowship at the University of San Diego:
‘Dear Dr Lyons,
You will have received many letters in the last week or so expressing concern and sadness at the decision that you have felt it necessary to take in cancelling the invitation to Professor Tina Beattie to hold a visiting fellowship and to speak at the University of San Diego.
Some of these will have acknowledged the very difficult position you have found yourself in, subject to strong forces and seeking to balance a range of responsibilities. Whilst operating in a significantly less charged and less polarised atmosphere than prevails in the US Catholic context, as Director of the only Centre for Catholic Studies in the UK university system and as the current President of the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain, I want first also to acknowledge these very real difficulties. Catholic leadership can be an exposed and challenging vocation wherein prudence, courage and discernment are needed in equal and full measure.
With this I want also to share with you something of the context and habitus of committed Catholic scholarship and theological conversation in the United Kingdom, out of which Professor Beattie operates. My hope is that doing so will help you better to appreciate both Professor Beattie herself and the vital importance for the health of Church and world alike of our beloved Catholic community showing what it means to have a mature capacity for conversation that transcends the destructive and disordered polemic marring too much of contemporary social, political and religious culture. This must surely be central to any significant Catholic presence in the university world.
Professor Beattie, herself a devout and personally committed Catholic, is a respected member and former President of the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain, of which I am the current serving president. The association exists “to promote the study of theology and in particular of the doctrines and tenets of the Roman Catholic faith” through appropriate conversation, exchange, mutual challenge, and scholarly analysis; always in pursuit of the further discerning and living of Catholic truth within the Church. Professor Beattie’s former role and continuing standing within the association by no means suggests any formal endorsement of all the positions she personally explores, nor general membership’s agreement with her on some of these points. Rather, it represents due recognition of her integrity, commitment, learning and distinction and, with that, recognition too that the way in which theology serves the Church and thereby the world is through robustly charitable conversation (cf. the classical role of disputatio), confident that the Spirit is leading the Church always into the total truth of God in Christ.
May the Lord guide us all as we seek to live this vitally challenging vocation in the university world and may our institutions show forth the health and wealth of Catholic conversation for the good of Church and world.
Paul D. Murray, Professor of Systematic Theology and Director of the Centre for Catholic Studies President of the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain (2012-14)’
Protect the Pope comment:
a mature capacity for conversation that transcends the destructive and disordered polemic marring too much of contemporary social, political and religious culture.
‘‘Given that in Christian theology the understanding of personhood is fundamentally relational because it bears the image of the Triune God, it is hard to see how an embryo can be deemed a person before even the mother enters into a rudimentary relationship with it. As many as one in four pregnancies may spontaneously abort during the first eight weeks of pregnancy, often without the woman knowing that she was pregnant. As some Catholic ethicists point out, the logical corollary of this position is that a woman should baptise every menstrual period – just in case.’
‘To acknowledge that there are cases when early abortion is the lesser of two evils is not to be pro-abortion, any more than to acknowledge that sometimes war may be a necessary evil means that one is pro-war.’
To read Prof. Beattie’s article go to:
‘In the early Middle Ages, the focus of the Mass was not just the sacrificial death of Christ but the incarnation as a whole; in the late Middle Ages, it came to be understood more explicitly as a sacrifice; today it has become an act of (homo)sexual intercourse. Previously, women could not represent Christ on the altar, not because Christ’s death had sexual connotations, but because it was the death of a perfect human being who is only imaged in man, since the female body is an incomplete or defective version of the same thing. In our own age, however, the female body is recognised as equal but different and is still incapable of representing Christ, because Christ’s kenotic self-giving has become implicitly associated with the male orgasm, with all the pagan overtones that this implies.’ Tina Beattie, God’s Mother, Eve’s Advocate, p.80.