Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More Muck at SMUC

Jo Siedlecka, who runs Independant Catholic News in her spare time, published an anonymous letter on October 3 concerning goings on at SMUC.

Lawyers for the principal of St Mary's University College, Twickenham, Professor Philip Esler, and two other members of the college's senior management say it defamed their clients and are demanding to know the name of the author: Jo Siedlecka refuses to reveal her sources.

Esler, always concerned about his reputation, describes himself as "a, if not the, leading Roman Catholic biblical theologian in the UK". He is the author of  such tomes as Sex, Wives and Warriors: Reading Biblical Narratives with Its Ancient Audience  and the co-authorship of Dirt, Greed and Sex.

The letter must have been pretty damning because under Esler's Principalship the College was rescued from its obscurity and raised to public notoriety when Professor Anthony Towey was forcibly removed from a Christology class he was teaching by security guards. Bishop Richard Moth, Chair of Governors, seemed to back that action and so presumably has been consulted these latest threats against Ms Siedlecka.


Unknown said...

I do hope that someone, somewhere halts the action by which one of the Catholic Women of the year may be sent to prison by "a, if not the, leading Roman Catholic biblical theologian in the UK"

I might have expected 1 Corinthians 6:1ff to guide Professor Esler but the legal action suggests not.

Perhaps Romans 7:7 might have also counselled against a public action of this kind since I, for one, didn't see the letter, and didn't know there was one until this case was brought.

Shame that the Catholic Church gets sullied by all this when St. Paul gave advice for such situations. Perhaps I need a refresher course in Biblical Theology to understand.

Nicolas Bellord said...

I could not find the letter of 3rd October - perhaps it has been removed? There is an anonymous letter of 23rd September which struck me as being merely comment on a matter of public interest.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fr Ray Blake said...

"Francis Margaret said...
Dear Fr Ray,

Re your rules for comments - it is a pity anonymous comments are not rejected from the ICN website. The quotation you use about Philip Esler was taken out of context, but it seems the kind of easy target comment that a blog would use.

I thought priests are supposed to bring people together and not find reasons to drive them apart, perhaps you disagree, Fathers?"


I suppose your comment is anonymous, in so far as there is nothing on your profile except your two Christian names.
If you wish to give the context of Eslers comments from the Tablet I am sure we will be edified.

However the removal of a lecturer, during his lecture, failing to consult staff and students over the merger of the theology dept in a "Catholic" college, with the drama dept and now the pursuit by lawyers of a journalist are the cause of scandal both inside and outside the Church.

We have a way of dealing with these things as Christians (see MB Karamba above), Dr Esler's heavey handness does not reflect his self proclaimed learning.

I actually believe that when the Church is brought into disrepute the best antiseptic is sunlight not security guards or lawyers.

Priests are not promoters of "bringing people together", Jesus certainly wasn't, bringing people to his Father certainly. Priests are supposed to be those who proclaim Righteousness, who hunger for Justice, and who are persuers of the Truth.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Francis Margaret, I notice you have now removed your comment.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Perhaps she has repented?

Unknown said...

Here is the source of the quote mentioned above:

“I am a research-active biblical critic, probably regarded as a, if not the, leading Roman Catholic biblical theologian in the UK" - Professor Philip Esler, The Tablet, September 1st 2012, p 7.

Unknown said...

Some sanity is slowly emerging as the Principal is not continuing the case. That may, or may not, be the result of wise counsel.

In any case, I'd just like to see his co-litigants follow suit, otherwise a Catholic woman of the year can still go to prison courtesy of a Catholic institution.

Unknown said...

The case is still being pursued by the two deputy principals. Seems that although the Principal is backing off himself, and getting press coverage for that, his associates are not, therefore giving Professor Esler the best of both worlds.

Someone, somewhere, should be talking to these people. There is an embarrassing lack of Catholicism in all this legal action.

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