Friday, 2 August 2013


In June 1971 Fr Peter de Rosa resigned from the staff of Corpus Christi Catechetical Institute. A few days later Fr John Perry also resigned. Both priests had been signatories of a letter to The Times, along with forty eight other priests, in which they contradicted the teaching of the Church in the Encyclical Humanae Vitae. On 2nd August 1971, following a meeting the previous day with the staff of the College, Cardinal Heenan spoke about the growing criticism of the College and its methods, which had been made by parents, priests and teachers, up and down the country. In the Autumn of 1970 the College was downgraded from its status as a National Catechetical Centre to being merely a Diocesan Catechetical Centre; such was the concern felt throughout the country and particularly amongst Diocesan Bishops. The Cardinal was clearly very embarrassed by what was happening with his Institute; this would not be the last public statement about the College that he would have to make.
Concern about the College was beginning to throw light on the actual problem in Corpus Christi; that there was on the one hand, a question about the value of the new methods of Catechesis, which Cardinal Heenan vigorously defended, and on the other the sense of a deeper theological issue, which was not really understood. In January 1972, Fr Dacey, an Australian priest who was a student at the college, in a letter to the Tablet (22nd January 1972) said that “most students were quite clear that the real issue was not even a question of catechetical methods, but a theological understanding of what Divine Revelation is all about.”
The resignations of Frs de Rosa and Perry were given, ostensibly, because of their opposition to the teaching in Humanae Vitae, and that, at this stage there was no question of them leaving the Priesthood. Later that year Fr de Rosa left the priesthood. You can read about him here.
On 21st August 1971, the remaining staff of the College, including its Principal, Fr Hubert Richards, offered their resignation to the Cardinal, but that, in order to honour their commitments, they would be happy to complete the academic year, and step down in July 1972. In January 1972 matters came to a head and the staff stepped down. Cardinal Heenan came to Corpus Christi to address the students. Following that he had to appoint new staff to run his College. New Year 1972 must have been a nightmare for the Cardinal.

No comments: