George Tyrrell on the Church’s Need for Renewal

Tyrrell was a leading English Catholic Modernist who was ultimately banished by his church for heretical reforming ideas:

“The latter part of Tyrrell’s life (1861-1909) was dominated by a struggle against negative aspects of Catholicism which Tyrrell considered to be abuses of true Catholicism. He had been attracted to Catholicism as a dogmatic religion, a religion of authority, but he soon experienced the misuse of the principle of authority. He observed how Catholicism as a way of life easily deteriorated into ritualism, sacerdotalism or legalism. The Catholic stress on tradition and continuity, instead of acting as a principle of life, could lead to decay and death… The real error of the day for Tyrrell was not ‘modernism’ but ‘medievalism’, the refusal to face contemporary problems, and the binding of Catholicism to sixteenth-century thought-forms. Through his writings he tried to expose these abuses of true Catholicism in order to awaken the Church to the need for renewal” [Ellen Leonard,George Tyrrell and the Catholic Tradition, 1982, p.32].

Many of Tyrrell’s ideas were to be incorporated into Vatican II in 1965.

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