Conference on George Tyrrell and Catholic Modernism

 A conference to mark the centenary of the death of one of the most remarkable Jesuits ever produced by the English Province, as it then was, will be held at Heythrop College on 19 and 20 June this year. George Tyrrell was born in Dublin in 1861, in many ways a typical product of the Anglo-Irish Protestant ascendency. He converted to Catholicism and joined the Jesuits in London in September 1880.

After a conventional noviceship at Manresa and philosophy studies at St Mary's Hall, Stonyhurst, Tyrrell was sent for regency to Malta where he taught in the school run by the English Province. He studied theology at St Beuno's were he became friendly with such outstanding individuals as Herbert Thurston SJ and William Roche SJ. It was there that he also met the French Jesuit Henri Bremond SJ, who was to be excommunicated during the Modernist Crisis.

In time Tyrrell was to become one of the leading Catholic theologians in England. Described as a man of 'religious genius', his views became increasingly radical and in the context of the 'Modernist Movement' he was dismissed from the Society in 1906 and deprived of the Sacraments (in effect excommunicated from the Church) in 1907, following his public dissent from the teaching of the papal encyclical condemning Modernism, Pascendi. Two years later, he was refused Catholic burial since he had given no public indication of the recantation of his views. He had, however, received the last rites from the superior of the Premonstratension Priory at Storrington in West Sussex.

A man of considerable pastoral gifts and possessed of a penetrating intellect, Tyrrell was held in high esteem both among the English Jesuits of his day, and by his wide circles of friends which including all the leading Modernists: Baron Frederick von Hugel, Maude Petre, and Alfred Loisy, to name but a few. Tyrrell's thought not only posed a challenge to the sterility of much of Catholic scholastic theology, but his emphasis on the immanence and transformative power of Christ has arguably influenced a good deal of Catholic theology since Vatican II.

The June conference seeks to analyse Tyrrell's, history, theology and legacy. It will be addressed by Professor Claus Arnold of the Goethe University, Frankfurt; Clara Ginther from the University of Freiburg; Andrew Pierce from the Irish School of Ecumenics-Trinity College Dublin; and three members of the Heythrop faculty, Tony Carroll SJ, Michael Kirwan SJ, and Oliver Rafferty SJ.

Further details can be had from Tyrrell Conference, Heythrop College, Kensington Square, London W8 5HQ or by e-mail:

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