Sunday, October 02, 2022

Farewell to St Benet's Hall

A Traditional Requiem Mass offered in St Benet's Chapel

The demise of St Benet's Hall, a 'Permanent Private Hall' of Oxford University and my academic affiliation, as a Fellow, since 2004, has now taken place: officially, on 30th September.

I wrote about it in The Critic here, and more recently Dan Hitchens has written about it in The Spectator here. [Link corrected]

Hitchens' angle is rather different from my own: I was concerned with the internal culture of the institution, which had I attended as a student in the 1990s. Hitchens is interested in the role of the University in its closure, which was, indeed, decisive. As I mentioned at the end of my article, without mentioning any names, the University refused to allow the Hall to accept a £40m donation which would have amply solved the problem of financial instability which has been presented as the cause of the decision to close it. We never had any official explanation as to why the donation was turned down, but Hitchen's article, which mentions lots of names, is clearly correct: key figures in the University didn't like the idea of a Catholic institution within the University.

What I wanted to emphasise in my own piece was that the Hall's failure was due to the combination of internal and external factors. This doesn't make for such a clear narrative of University nefariousness but that's reality for you.

Certainly the University's decision should be called out; it was disgraceful. It is important to note also that the anti-Catholic animus behind the decision had in no way been mollified by the appeasement  offered to wokery over the years by the Hall leadership. Indeed, in the final stages, it actually made things worse, because it created the impression that people like the hugely distinguished academic lawyer Prof Robert George, who was involved in the negotiations, was suspect simply because he is a faithful Catholic.

We can't expect people in the University administration, who know nothing and care less about the Catholic intellectual tradition, to take us seriously, if we don't take ourselves seriously.

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  1. An example of the new spring in the Church - BOINNNGGG!!!

  2. I am sorry for this developement, dear Joseph Shaw.

    (PS: Both links lead to the same place, not to Spectator).