- Out of Due Time: Wilfrid Ward and the Dublin Review
In the preface to his book Dom Paschal Scotti writes that Wilfred Ward "was a man much misunderstood in his own time and ignored in our own" (p. ix). [End Page 398] He also acknowledges that he has "great admiration for Ward and great sympathy for what he tried to do," and states that his book is "not a neutral work." What Ward tried to do, according to Scotti, was "to bring the best of the Catholic mind to the nation at large, revealing the intrinsic power and beauty of the faith which alone, he believed, could counter the dissolving forces of modernity, and to expose the Catholic faithful to the best of the changing world around them" (p. ix). Scotti believes that Ward's nine years as editor of the Dublin Review, from 1906 to 1915, best express this life purpose, and so the author devotes four-fifths of the book to the articles published in the Dublin during these years, giving a précis of each, even though the vast majority were not written by Ward. The book's first two chapters give the background for Ward becoming the Dublin's editor and are based on secondary works that Scotti accepts uncritically and without analysis.
The time is now right for a careful and critical biographical study of Ward, but it must have more objectivity and serious critical analysis than Scotti has provided.After more than forty years of critical scholarship on the modernist crisis in the Roman Catholic Church, based on newly available archival materials, it is not acceptable to take the descriptions of modernism and the modernists found in Pascendi as historical fact, as Scotti does. He does not seem to realize that Ward was a modernist, though a very different one from Tyrrell or Maude Petre. Scotti's obvious contempt for von Hügel not only completely misses the actual historical baron but also ignores the more than thirty-year relationship that he had with Ward. When Ward knew that he had incurable cancer and would soon die, he wrote to von Hügel, to ask the baron to help him focus on what alone was now important and to prepare for death.This von Hügel did every few days until the end. Apparently Ward, at least, did not have contempt for von Hügel!
Scotti says,"Ward's view of the Church was always triumphalist: no matter her human imperfections, she was the ark of salvation and the locus of divine truth, and nothing could diminish his respect and loyalty to her" (pp. 53–54). There is truth in this statement, but Ward's triumphalism was certainly not that of the utterly uncritical Vaticanists. In 1900 von Hügel wrote to Ward,"As to our general attitude, I am glad to think with you of the many points we have in common. Indeed I fully believe that on the general final matters, and world-view,we are really at one."And he went on to explain why he thought one could not simply accept the status quo of the institutional side of the Church without some sense of the need for ongoing reform."But that the far more complex and difficult, but alone fully adequate ideal should be sought (and it can certainly be found) amongst them [the saints], of every kind and degree of reformatory claim, action, ideal and (partial) achievement, within the limits of a refusal to break with the Church. The Church as it is, would thus never be a thing to just simply put up with; and our energies would never be spent in elaborating theories either to show that the things as they are, really will do; or that, not to so accept them thus, involves the alternative [End Page 399] of leaving the Church. But the soul of the Church alone would be, not thus simply put up with, but heartwholly...