The details concerning each of the four candidates and their respective lectures and positions are derived, according to Fr. Brown, from a post by James Mawdsley, "Church and University: Durham's New Chair of Theology" (Ecce Mater Tua, April 21, 2008). "As part of the selection process," says Mawdsley, "yesterday the four candidates for the Bede Chair each gave presentations to a packed room of local clergy, academics, parishioners and students. One candidate had travelled from London, two had flown in from the USA, the fourth from Japan." The candidate from Japan, of course, was none other than Fr. Joseph O'Leary, the notorious dissident who has insinuated himself into numerous blog discussions under the monaker of "Spirit of Vatican II," or "Joe O'Leary," or simply "Fr. Joe." Mawdsley reports his 'take' on the four candidates as follows:
- Prof. Lewis Ayres -- solid and interesting
- Prof. Christina Beattie -- [apparently] the best of the candidates, both in content and communication [but see up-date at the top]
- Prof. Rev. Paul McPartlan -- interesting but his overall point(s) unclear
- Prof. Rev. Jospeh O'Leary -- I think he is theologically dangerous
It was with some alarm that I read that Father Joseph O'Leary was being considered for the new Bede Chair at Durham University. Father O'Leary is well-known, indeed quite notorious, within the online Catholic community:- The Case of Father O'Leary; and- The Perplexing Sayings of Father O'Leary.He is especially infamous for consistently and domineeringly pushing his arguments against Catholic teaching on human sexuality, and denying the historicity of the Resurrection.The history of my own interaction with Fr. O'Leary, who was a classmate of mine in graduate school at Duquesne University back in the early 1980s, is reported by Christopher Blosser in "The Perplexing Sayings of Fr. O'Leary" (Against the Grain, August 2, 2005). O'Leary is very bright, learned, and diabolical. He is obsessed with portraying active homosexual relations in a positive light, as reported in "What homosexuals do" (Musings, June 26, 2006) (his combox comments alone are sufficient to indict O'Leary here, not to mention his obscene discussion of the cult of the divine prepuce [foreskin] in another venue). We banned him from the comment boxes on this blog, even though he continued to post by logging onto different computers, as we noted in "Obstinate O'Leary refuses to be banned" (Musings, August 14, 2006). He denies the historicity of the Resurrection, even while cleverly appearing to affirm it in some trans-historical spiritual sense. He buys into the assumptions of the most skeptical traditions of German higher criticism of the Bible. My own critical analysis of his claims to Chalcedonian orthodoxy in his Christology may be found in the following posts:
... On two occasions I have had cause to report Father O'Leary's comments to me (on my blog) and about me (on his blog and other blogs) - in relation to the Church's teaching on human sexuality - to the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney for further investigation. I can forward the correspondence. Other scholars, bloggers and priests have also apparently reported specific examples of Father O'Leary's heterodoxy to their local ordinaries. However, I understand that, owing to the details of Father O'Leary's position in Japan, not much has been done so far.
That would change if Durham and the Centre seriously considered giving Father O'Leary the Bede Chair. He would become a lightening rod for dissent and controversy. Far from presenting the Catholic Church to the secular university, Father O'Leary's appointment would reward the worst kind of secularist ideas and the people who hold them with the official title 'Catholic'.
- "Fr. O'Leary's unorthodox 'hot tub' Christology (Part I)" (Musings, August 8, 2005)
- "Fr. O'Leary's unorthodox ('hot tub') Christology (Part II)" (Musings, August 15, 2005)
- "Fr. O'Leary's unorthodox "hot tub" Christology (Part III: Conclusion)" (Musings, November 28, 2005)
It has been officially confirmed that Professor Lewis Ayres, an English lay Catholic theologian currently teaching at Emory University in Georgia in the USA, has been appointed as the first Bede Chair of Catholic Theology in Durham University. (Courtesy of Volpius Leonius, Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle, United Kingdom)