28 April 2016, The Tablet

The intractable battle

by Richard Gaillardetz


The Church: always in need of reform
Gabriel Daly, OSA

A righteous anger reverberates from the Irish theologian Gabriel Daly. He has witnessed sundry abuses at the hands of an authoritarian Church and now, in the autumn of his life, he speaks out. He is not content to offer a laundry list of favourite ecclesiastical reforms; Daly’s reformist agenda follows upon a sophisticated theological analysis.

Daly has written extensively on the early-twentieth-century anti-modernist controversy. During that sad chapter of church history, ecclesiastical authorities hounded a number of “modernist” theologians who were guilty of little more than a commitment to integrate historical consciousness and a respect for human experience into their account of the Christian faith. Daly fears the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI have recalled the fearsome spectre of anti-modernist purge. He acknowledges the more open atmosphere Francis has created, but wonders whether he may fall prey to the very theological errors that a successful reform must address: integralism and essentialism.

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