Christopher Butler

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The Right Reverend
Christopher Butler
OSB
Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster
Church Roman Catholic
Archdiocese Westminster
In office 1966–1986
Other posts Titular Bishop of Nova Barbara
Orders
Ordination 10 June 1933
Consecration 21 December 1966
by John Carmel Heenan
Personal details
Born 7 May 1902
Reading, Berkshire, England
Died 21 September 1986 (aged 84)
Nationality English
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post Abbot of Downside

Basil Christopher Butler, OSB (7 May 1902 – 20 September 1986) was a convert from the Church of England to the Roman Catholic Church.

He was a Roman Catholic priest, the 7th Abbot of Downside Abbey, one-time Abbot President of the English Benedictine Congregation, an auxiliary bishop of Westminster, an internationally respected scripture scholar, a consistent defender of the priority of the Gospel according to Matthew, and a pre-eminent English-speaking Council Father at the Second Vatican Council (1962–65).

Religious life[edit]

In 1928, after an illustrious career as undergraduate at Oxford University and a year teaching at Brighton College, Butler, baptized in the Church of England, was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. The next year, he became a monk of the Benedictine community of Downside Abbey – a House of the English Benedictine Congregation – and was ordained priest there in 1933. In 1946 the community elected him as their Abbot, which he remained for twenty years until his consecration in 1966 as Titular Bishop of Nova Barbara and Auxiliary Bishop to Cardinal John Carmel Heenan in the Archdiocese of Westminster.[1]

Scholarly career[edit]

Butler's wide-reaching interests and competence included theology, spirituality, contemplative prayer, ecumenism, the Church Fathers and the dialogue with contemporaries such as Bernard Lonergan.[2]

Defending – like his predecessor Abbot John Chapman and his fellow-monks, Dom Bernard Orchard and Dom Gregory Murray – the traditionally maintained priority of the Gospel according to Matthew, Butler published a critique of the Two-document hypothesis and a study of the indebtedness of the Gospel according to Luke to the Gospel according to Matthew (cf. Synoptic Problem).[3]

Role at Vatican II[edit]

It was in his capacity as Abbot President (1961–66) of the English Benedictine Congregation and as an outstanding scripture scholar, that Butler was called to Rome to participate in Vatican II (1962–1965). He was one of maybe two dozen "men who made the Council", contributing, often in fluent Latin, to many of the Council's documents, e.g. The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) which he regarded as their very underpinning, and subsequently was a strong proponent of the teachings of Vatican II. [4]

Publications[edit]

Butler was a prolific writer, a bibliography of his books, articles and reviews running to some 337 titles. He was a popular guest on the BBC's radio programmes.[5][6]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bishop Christopher Butler, O.S.B. at Catholic-Hierarchy Retrieved on 23 March 2014.
  2. ^ Flood, Anne T., SC, B.C. Butler's developing understanding of church. An intellectual biography. (Chapter 3: Butler's Dialogue with Bernard Lonergan). Thesis-Phil. D. (Religion). Washington, D.C., Catholic University of America, 1981
  3. ^ Butler, B.C. The Originality of St. Matthew: A Critique of the Two-Document Hypothesis. Cambridge: University Press, 1951.
  4. ^ Rice, Valentine, Men Who Make the Council, University of Notre Dame Press, 1965. (Dom Christopher Butler was the fifteenth of the 24 men described.)
  5. ^ Flood, Anne T., SC, Bibliography on Bishop B. C. Butler OSB, pars diss. laur., Washington, D.C., The Catholic University of America, 1981.
  6. ^ Flood, Anne T., SC, B.C. Butler's developing understanding of church. An intellectual biography. Thesis-Phil. D. (Religion). Washington, D.C., Catholic University of America, 1981. (iv, 294 leaves). Bibliography at leaves 250-90.