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Contemporary preachers

800 years of Dominican books

The Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) led to significant changes across the Catholic Church, and the reception of its teachings continues with considerable debate to the present day.

Among those who communicated the Council’s teachings in the English-speaking world during and soon after its conclusion was the Irish friar Austin Flannery (1925–2008). Editor of the Irish Dominican monthly Doctrine and life from 1957, Flannery made it a forum for discussion of the council documents. In 1964 he edited an edition of the Council’s constitution on the liturgy. He brought out a full English edition of the conciliar and post-conciliar documents in 1975.

In Britain three Dominicans were influential in renewing Catholic philosophical theology: Cornelius Ernst, Fergus Kerr, and Herbert McCabe. Cornelius Ernst inspired a generation of friars who admired his ability to bring Aquinas into conversation with contemporary Anglophone and continental philosophers. He introduced and translated into English the first volume of Rahner’s Theological investigations in 1961, and his The theology of grace appeared in 1974. Ernst died young in 1977 aged fifty-three, but a posthumous set of essays Multiple echo: explorations in theology was issued in 1979. The Scottish friar Fergus Kerr is best known for his Theology after Wittgenstein which appeared in 1986. Herbert McCabe wrote repeatedly on the doctrine of God and evil, on Christ, and on the fundamentals of moral theology. A book on the sacraments, The new creation, appeared in 1964; his account of morality, Law, love and language was published in 1968. In later years he favoured lapidary articles over books.

A crucial post-conciliar task since has been to help present-day Christians deepen their understanding of Christianity, and nurture their spirituality. What earlier friars such as Gerald Vann offered in the 1940s and ’50s, has been taken forward by the Irish Dominican Paul Murray, whose The new wine of Dominican spirituality: a drink called happiness appeared in 2006, and the English friar, Timothy Radcliffe. Master of the Order from to 1992 to 2001, Radcliffe published numerous articles and books, including Why go to church? (2008) and Take the plunge: living baptism and confirmation (2012).

Image reproduced by kind permission of Bloomsbury Continuum.