A Journal for The Contemporary Church

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Remembering Charles Davis


Some bishops, many priests and religious left their canonical situations in the years following Vatican II for a complex nexus of reasons. It seems to me utterly reductionist to find some entirely common factor for this exodus. Without a doubt some felt that the Council did not go far enough, or were disappointed that the discipline of clerical celibacy was not abandoned, or encountered a new-found freedom of personal expression that they had not experienced before. The reasons, circumstances and situations are many and complex, but what is clear is that, in many cases, their going impoverished the Catholic Church, not only numerically and pragmatically but also in terms of theological leadership. This is certainly the case with the English priest-theologian, Charles Davis. Hans Küng in the second volume of his memoirs writes of Davis: “Davis would have helped the Catholic Church community most had he stayed in it.”