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Tina Beattie criticises ‘lack of dialogue’ after event is cancelled

Archbishop Cushley (Photo: PA)

A female Catholic theologian has claimed she was left in the dark by a decision by the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh to ban her from speaking at an event on church property.

Professor Tina Beattie was due to speak at a meeting of the Newman Association at St Catherine’s Convent in Edinburgh this month.

However, in a letter to the association dated July 11, Archbishop Leo Cushley requested that the event be cancelled.

According to The Tablet, Archbishop Cushley wrote: “Professor Beattie is known to have frequently called into question the Church’s teaching.”

It is understood the archbishop was acting on instructions from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

“I’m very sketchy as to what the archbishop was objecting to or why the CDF intervened,” said Professor Beattie, professor of Catholic studies at the University of Roehampton.

“The archbishop has not made any contact with me and I only know what he has said in his letter.

“I’ve heard absolutely nothing from the CDF.”

Professor Beattie said she was frustrated by what she perceives as a lack of dialogue between the Church hierarchy and laity.

“Pope Francis has repeatedly called for a move away from clerical elitism and authoritarianism and for a messy, risk-taking Church,” she said.

“I think it is unwise to treat a laywoman theologian in this way when there is the chance to have open dialogue in the Church.”

The Tablet also published a letter from Professor Beattie to the archbishop.

In it, she writes: “You say that I am ‘known to have frequently called into question the Church’s teaching’. Known by whom, in what context, and with reference to which of my published works?

“Never in my published writings or talks have I questioned any of the doctrinal mysteries of the Catholic faith. On the contrary, I have consistently argued in defence of even the most frequently challenged doctrines of the Church, seeking to interpret these in a way which illustrates their relevance for contemporary faith.”

Arthur Skelton, chair of the Edinburgh Circle of the Newman Association, said that the group had been trying to fix a meeting with the archbishop since July to discuss the matter.

“We’ve been anxious to resolve this issue by negotiation because we have refuted all the points in the archbishop’s letter,” said Mr Skelton.

A spokesman for Archbishop Cushley said: “While the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh must respect the requests of the CDF, the Archbishop has offered to assist the parties concerned in contacting the CDF in the hope of reaching a fair resolution.”