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Forgotten Jesuit

The Forgotten Jesuit of Catholic Modernism: George Tyrrell’s Prophetic Theology

Anthony M. Maher (Author)
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This book illustrates how George Tyrrell’s theological challenge to those who would take the church out of history was never effectively refuted, either at the time or since, and that the issues Tyrrell raised are still relevant and alive in the church today. In highlighting Tyrrell’s liberation of theology from dogmatism, the current work describes why he was vilified by the Roman hierarchy, expelled from the Jesuits, and eventually excommunicated. Tyrrell’s Ignatian-inspired, hope-filled theology should not be forgotten, not least because it sheds further light on another courageous and prophetic Jesuit, Pope Francis. In revisiting Tyrrell’s Ignatian theology, this book celebrates the promise that Vatican II presents to the future church, namely, a universal call to holiness as embraced by Pope Francis.

Release date: 
December 15, 2017


Foreword (Oliver P Rafferty, SJ)



Part One: The Life of George Tyrrell

1. An Ecclesial Prophet or Agent Provocateur?

2. Modernism: An Ecclesial Power Struggle

3. A Tragic Human Story of a Priest-Theologian

Part Two: An Impression of Tyrrell’s Theology

4. Rights and Limits of Theology

5. Doctrine, Development, and Historical Consciousness

6. Theological Apologetics

7. A Perverted Devotion to Hell: A Pastoral Hermeneutical Case Study

8. Jesus or the Christ?

9. The Mystical Body of Christ

10. The Spirit of Christ

11. Ecclesiology

12. The Source of Authority and the Sensus Fidelium

Part Three: A Thought for Tyrrell’s Legacy

13. Tyrrell Observed in the New Light of Vatican II

14. The Pastoral Council

15. Tyrell’s Legacy as an Ignatian Theologian

Epilogue: Revisiting Storrington 


Easily among the most comprehensive studies of Tyrrell to date.

“This is a remarkable book - easily among the most comprehensive studies of Tyrrell to date. Covering his life, influences, theology and scholarship in a highly readable fashion, it also features an impressive survey of scholarship about Tyrrell's work, an intriguing account of his Ignatian spirituality and frames his legacy firmly in the very debates which preoccupy today's church. Every theological library and bibliography on modern and contemporary church history and ecclesiology will benefit from the addition of this study. Anthony Maher has provided a great resource about a priest and thinker caught in a church 'between two worlds', whose age parallels our own in so many ways and whose voice can speak to our age with much inspiration for how to transcend ecclesial polarity."

Gerard Mannion | Georgetown University

An elegant and wise theological effort.

“Anthony Maher’s book on the ‘forgotten Jesuit’ Fr. George Tyrrell, is quite masterful in the way biography, history and ecclesiology are skillfully woven together. Maher offers a sympathetic and sensitive reading of Tyrrell’s life and struggles; insightful commentary on the wider context of ‘modernism’ and the ecclesio-politcal purposes its invention served; and a carefully constructed mini ecclesiology arising out of reflections on twentieth century Catholicism leading up to and beyond Vatican Two. An elegant and wise theological effort offering a portal into the present condition of the Church not simply for Catholics but the wider ecumenical church.”

Bishop Stephen Pickard, Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn | Charles Sturt University

A persuasive and convincing statement of the meaning and significance of George Tyrrell’s life and work.

"Anthony Maher has presented us with a persuasive and convincing statement of the meaning and significance of George Tyrrell’s life and work. The issues that Tyrrell raised are as pertinent today as they were in the late nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth century. One of the most important and novel aspects of Anthony Maher’s work is the rightful place he gives to role of Ignatian spirituality in Tyrrell’s thought. In the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Tyrrell found the rational for humanity’s relationship with God. The lived experience of that spirituality led him to the conviction that there is a need to live the truth and not simply to analyze it. In his living of the truth of the Spiritual Exercises, Tyrrell​ contrasted the spirit and greatness of the early Society of Jesus, where the hallmark was flexibility, with the stultifying and fossilized hulk that the Jesuit order had had become in his day. As Dr. Maher points out, Tyrrell summarized his approach by declaring that liberty for the soul is what air is for the body. That freedom came from a profound experience of God attainted through the Ignatian way."

Oliver P Rafferty SJ | Boston College

Anthony Maher fills a serious gap in the theological literature leading up to Vatican II.

“With this monograph on the life, theology, and legacy of George Tyrrell, Anthony Maher fills a serious gap in the theological literature leading up to Vatican II. Tyrrell courageously sought to do theology in the complicated ecclesiastical environment between Vatican I and the “modernist” crisis of the early 20th century. Anthony Maher’s book on this Irish Jesuit, first dismissed from the Society of Jesus and then excommunicated, casts a light on the critical and at the same time dangerous work of the theologian in a time of intellectual and institutional change. It is hard not to see in Vatican II and in Pope Francis much of what Tyrrell prophetically wrote and said one century before.” 

Massimo Faggioli | Villanova University

An excellent book.

“This is an excellent book; the first part tells the dreadfully sad story of Tyrrell’s life, and his appalling treatment by the Church and (alas) the Society of Jesus; the second is a carefully crafted account of his theology (which makes you wonder what the fuss was about); part three explores his legacy and reveals how far ahead of his time he was. For he was working for a theology that made sense to ordinary people, and was playing Pope Francis’ tune a century ago. His project of the ‘liberation of theology’ was, viewed from another angle, already a ‘theology of liberation’. Anthony Maher has done an excellent job; the book is a warning of the terrible price we shall pay if we do not follow Pope Francis’ leadership."

Nicholas King SJ | St. Mary’s University, London