September 21, 2011

Interlude: Father John F. Maxwell's "Slavery and the Catholic Church"

In 1966, Archbishop Cyril Cowderoy of Southwark released Father John Francis Maxwell from pastoral duties for the next seven years for the study of various moral questions. One publication that resulted from that research was Slavery and the Catholic Church: The History of Catholic Teaching concerning the Moral Legitimacy of the Institution of Slavery, which we have made use of in an earlier post.  

Slavery and the Catholic Church was published in 1975 in Chichester (UK) by Barry Rose in association with the Anti-Slavery Society for the Protection of Human Rights. Richard Wilberforce (1907-2003) the Right Honorable Lord (later Baron) Wilberforce, great-great-grandson of abolitionist William Wilberforce, provided the Foreword. This book bears the imprimatur of Archbishop Cowderoy. (Mr. Ferrara would not, of course, be impressed: "an episcopal imprimatur" is no "guarantee of orthodoxy these days," he recently opined.)

As promised, we have posted a scanned photocopy on our website* of this long out-of-print and, still indispensable, survey. We will provide a machine-readable, searchable copy of the text in the not-too-distant future. May an actual documentary history of its subject supersede it one day

As we say in the prefatory note to the text, Father Maxwell's study "provides ample material for testing the proposition that official Catholic teaching never changes or, if it does, the change amounts to merely a 'development' or explication, but never a reversal, of earlier teaching."

* We thank Daniel Coleman for reducing our previously posted several groups of scans to one document.