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Durham University

Centre for Catholic Studies


CCS News

A New Global Safeguarding Alliance

In 2020, through the activities of the Boundary Breaking Project examining the ecclesial-cultural implications of the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic church in England and Wales, the Centre for Catholic Studies was one of a group of eight institutions and one individual expert in the field of Safeguarding to have agreed upon the creation of a Global Safeguarding Alliance (“GSA”). 

The GSA is intended to promote the common goal of Safeguarding as a voluntary association of academic, teaching, and research institutions, as well as practice-oriented professional schools and individual experts. 

(9 Jan 2021) » More about this news

The CCS Welcomes Dr Catherine Sexton

It is with great pleasure that we welcome Dr Catherine Sexton to the Boundary Breaking Research Team: Examining the Ecclesial-Cultural Implications of Sex Abuse Within the Catholic Church.

(18 Jun 2020) » More about this news item

Thoughts on the Pandemic

CCS members offer some thoughts about the pandemic, offering some words of hope, consolation, food for thought and more.

(21 May 2020) » More about Thoughts on the Pandemic

CCS Annual Report 2019 Now Available

Read our quick guide to 2018-2019 highlights, including:

  • Events
  • New staff members
  • Research highlights and key publications
  • New students
  • Alumni news
  • Outreach highlights
  • Partnerships and development

(15 Jul 2019)

Fifth International Conference on Receptive Ecumenism

The Fifth International Conference on Receptive Ecumenism will be held on 22-25 June 2020 in Sigtuna, Sweden, and will be hosted by the Christian Council of Sweden, the Sigtuna Foundation, and University College Stockholm.

The Call for Papers and full conference details can be found on the conference webpage. If you have any questions, please contact Olle Kristenson, Theological Advisor at the Christian Council of Sweden, at

(15 Jul 2019)

Durham Residential Research Library Fellow Discovers Ancient Royal Charter

An ancient royal charter might not be what everyone expects to find when they come to work, but for one of the visiting fellows of the Durham Residential Research Library, that’s exactly what happened.

Dr Benjamin Pohl was recently in Durham on a visiting fellowship and came across the rare, original charter by chance whilst studying medieval manuscripts held at Ushaw College Library, along with our archivist Dr Jonathan Bush.

Full story

(2 Apr 2019)

Gabby Thomas: A Woman Making a Difference!

Congratulations to CCS member Gabby Thomas who was nominated as one of Durham's Women Making a Difference, an award set up to celebrate International Women's Day 2019. Gabby's nominator said:

Gabrielle gave our first lecture in theology and made us all laugh by showing a photograph of herself with a fake white beard. Whilst it was a bit cheesy she explained that in studying early Christian theology we might get the idea that only men can do theology but actually it's for anyone - including women. Because she did this early on I've been able to think about how it's possible for me, as a young woman, to be a theologian. She's really inspiring and always has time for my questions, and always answer emails! Gabrielle tells us that women can do theology. We don't get lots of female professors and so when we do it's important to be a brilliant teacher and gets us really engaged in her lectures. She's also kind which matters.

You can find more CCS women making a difference listed on our staff pages!

(18 Mar 2019)

Postgraduate Scholarships and Bursaries for 2019/20

Applications are open for Postgraduate Scholarships and Bursaries for 2019/20. Full details, including an application form, are available here.

(18 Mar 2019)

Mgr Denis Edwards RIP

It is with great sadness that the CCS heard of the death of Monsignor Denis Edwards of Adelaide on Monday 4 March 2019. During the 2007-2008 year, Denis was the inaugural holder of the St Cuthbert’s Fellowship in Catholic Theology. We have lost a good friend who embodied the fine theology that he spoke and wrote. A full obituary is available here.

(11 Mar 2019)

Registration open for conference on Biblical Hebrew Poetry

Registration is now open for the conference entitled, New Song: Biblical Hebrew Poetry as Jewish and Christian Scripture for the 21st Century, to take place at Ushaw College, Durham on 24 - 25 June 2019. This conference will bring together leading scholars from around the world to discuss the why and how of reading Biblical Hebrew poetry as Scripture in today's world. The aim of the conference is recontextualization with the goal of moving beyond reconstructive historical work to constructive theological work. Click here for more information


(11 Dec 2018)

Vacancy for a PDRA on a research project on Catholic Sexual Abuse

Job vacancy: Postdoctoral Research Associate in Catholic Studies here at the Centre for Catholic Studies, Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University, UK. This is a three-year full-time position and the closing date is 12 noon on 10 December 2018. As a post-doctoral researcher, the candidate will develop and co-lead a research project entitled, ‘Boundary Breaking: Discerning the consequences and implications of the sex abuse crisis within the Roman Catholic Church’. This is a flagship research project specifically analysing the potential and – claimed – complicity of Catholic ecclesial self-understanding and wider Catholic cultural habitus in creating the circumstances in which Catholic clerical sexual abuse could be at once endemic, hidden, unthinkable, denied, and routinely mismanaged. More details, including how to apply

(13 Nov 2018)

Catholic Social Thought and Prostitution Project

The CCS is delighted to be working in partnership with women@thewell and the UK Centre for Catholic Social Thought and Practice on this exciting and groundbreaking project.

Across the globe 33 million women and girls are affected by prostitution. Whilst there are significant bodies of work in relation to Catholic social thought in areas related to prostitution, for example; trafficking and modern slavery, dignity of work, and family life, there has been very little done to explore prostitution with women affected by prostitution specifically within the context of catholic social thought.

The research will work across a number of areas including; trauma theory, feminist thought and a range of theological perspectives. It will include research with women affected by prostitution and with the practitioners who support them.

The project will run from October 2018 through to the summer of 2019 and aims to produce robust, research based resources to support the development of Catholic social thought in relation to prostitution.

(5 Nov 2018)

CCS Member Hanna Lucas to give York Newman Circle talk

Monday 10 December 2018

Hanna Lucas (Centre for Catholic Studies, Durham University)

The Shepherd, the Thief, and Sacramental Knowing – Can Jesus’ ‘Good Shepherd’ Discourse and Sacramental Catechesis Answer Modern Questions of Knowledge?

7.30pm at the Bar Convent, Blossom Street, York. Tea and coffee will be available from 7pm. Members £1, non-members £2, students free. All welcome. For further information please contact Judith Smeaton on 01904 704525 or at More information about Newman Circle talks can be found here.

(5 Nov 2018)

Call for Papers: Anglican-Catholic Relations, 1569-the present

Northern Rising 1569 Anniversary Conference: From Rebellion to Reconciliation: Anglican-Catholic Relations from 1569 to the Present - Regional, National, and International Perspectives (17-19 September 2019 at Durham University, UK)

Call for papers

(23 Oct 2018)

New course on Receptive Ecumenism

Embracing the Other is a resource for Receptive Ecumenism produced by a team served by Churches Together in England. It is free for anyone to use. It is intended for groups of people, perhaps from different church traditions. Click here for the course resources.

Receptive Ecumenism is a concept developed here at the Centre for Catholic Studies. Practising Receptive Ecumenism involves asking not "What do the other traditions first need to learn from us?" but "What do we need to learn from them?" The assumption is that if all were asking this question seriously and acting upon it then all would be moving in ways that would both deepen our authentic respective identities and draw us into more intimate relationship. More information about Receptive Ecumenism can be found here.

(23 Oct 2018)

Now available to listen to: talks from the conference marking the 450th anniversary of the founding of the English College at Douai

Click here for the conference report, pictures and audio-recordings, including:

  • Professor Eamon Duffy: “To Doe Our Countrie Good”: Douai, Rome, and the Tridentine Seminary
  • HE Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi: Universities as Places of Encounter Between Faith and Culture
  • Other talks on the past, present and future of Catholic education

(23 Oct 2018)

Durham Residential Research Library Fellowships

The new Durham Residential Research Library is delighted to invite applications from researchers for Visiting Fellowships, from one to three months in duration. In addition, a series of named fellowships are available to work on particular collections or subject areas.

The Durham Residential Research Library aims to enable and foster research across the three historic collections of Durham – those held by Durham Cathedral, Ushaw College, and Durham University, including Palace Green Library and the Oriental Museum. They include not only libraries, but also archives, collections of visual and material culture, and architectural assets. The purpose of the Visiting Fellowships is to support research into these globally significant collections.

(4 Oct 2018) » More about these fellowships

CCS Newsletter for Michaelmas 2018 now available

The Michaelmas 2018 newsletter contains a report on Gabby Thomas's visit to a gathering of the Global Christian Forum and introduces new projects on Catholic Social Thought and Practice, Theology and Spirituality in the Catholic Tradition, and Ecclesiology and Receptive Ecumenism. Read it here.

(25 Sep 2018)

Congratulations to CCS members Stefano Cracolici and Giles Gasper

We are delighted to report that CCS members Stefano Cracolici and Giles Gasper have each been promoted to Chair (Professor).

(16 Jul 2018) » More about this news

First Agreed Statement from ARCIC III (The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, Phase 3)

Following seven years of work, the first ‘Agreed Statement’ (a 68-page document) to emerge from ARCIC III, Walking Together on the Way: Learning to Be the Church – Local, Regional, Universal, has gone live. It can be read here.

In addition to the document itself, there is also an excellent Official Commentary on the document available on the website of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, written by the highly-regarded Australian theologian, Orm Rush - see here.

The Anglican Communion Office website, in turn, features an Anglican Commentary on the document, written by the Revd Canon Dr James Hawkey, outgoing Dean of Clare College, Cambridge and incoming Canon Theologian at Westminster Abbey - see here.

(3 Jul 2018) » More about this news item

Call for Papers: 'From Rebellion to Reconciliation: Anglican-Catholic Relations from 1569 to the Present - Regional, National, and International Perspectives'

2019 marks the 450th anniversary of The Northern Rebellion (or Rising of the Northern Earls), an event tied to the excommunication of Queen Elizabeth I by Pope Pius V in 1570, and arguably the decisive rupture between the Church of England and the Catholic Church in communion with the Bishop of Rome. The city, cathedral and county of Durham was at the centre of the uprising of 1569. However, in recent decades Durham has become associated with dialogue and collaboration between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church, a cause strongly identified with Archbishop Michael Ramsey, Bishop of Durham from 1952 to 1956.

To mark the 450th anniversary of the Rising, Durham University’s Michael Ramsey Centre for Anglican Studies and its Centre for Catholic Studies, in collaboration with Durham Cathedral, Ushaw College and Palace Green Library, are organising a three-day, multi-disciplinary international conference to consider and review all aspects of Anglican-Catholic relations in the four and a half centuries since 1569, and the direction of this relationship in the twenty-first century. The conference will take place on 17-19 September 2019 at Durham University, UK.

(21 Jun 2018) » More about this call for papers

Thought for the Day for Refugee Week 2018

Anna Rowlands, St Hilda Chair of Catholic Social Thought and Practice at the CCS, has delivered a BBC Radio 4 Thought for the Day for Refugee Week 2018. After US Attorney General Jeff Sessions invoked scripture to justify separating children and parents at the US border, Dr Rowlands reflects on the biblical passage in question. You can listen to/read Dr Rowlands' contribution here.

(18 Jun 2018)

CCS member Stefano Cracolici to give Newman Circle talk

Professor Stefano Cracolici (Durham University) will give a talk on 'Mater admirabilis: The Birth of a Global Sacred Icon' on Tuesday 30 October 2018 in Middlesbrough Cathedral Hall, 7.45pm (coffee/tea from 7.30pm). The talk is organsied by the Cleveland Newman Circle.


(15 Jan 2018) » More about this talk

Postgraduate Scholarships and Bursaries 2018-19

The Centre for Catholic Studies at Durham University is pleased to announce the Postgraduate
Scholarships and Bursaries available for 2018/19.

More details

(30 Oct 2017)

An evening with Roy Hattersley on his new book 'The Catholics'

Durham University is to present an evening with Roy Hattersley, a prolific writer and former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, on Monday 16 October.

Roy Hattersley will discuss his new book The Catholics: The Church and its People in Britain and Ireland, from the Reformation to the Present Day.

(9 Oct 2017) » More about this event

Reformation Rebels: The surprising histories of Benedictine monks in exile

Monks in Motion

Sixteenth and seventeenth century Benedictine monks refused abstinence, died in duels, went off to war and spread illegal Catholic doctrine, a new study has revealed. The Monks in Motion project, led by Dr James Kelly of the Department of Theology and Religion, has brought together records of English and Welsh Benedictine monks exiled in Europe in a first-of-its-kind searchable database and uncovered some of their remarkable histories

(14 Sep 2017) » More about this news item

Registration open for conference on Suffering, Diminishment and the Christian Life

Registration and the call for short papers is open for this conference, taking place on 8-10 January 2018 at Ushaw College, Durham, UK.

(17 Aug 2017) » More about this conference

Dr Edward Epsen appointed as Teaching Fellow at King's College London

Congratulations to Dr Edward Epsen, recent PhD student at the Centre for Catholic Studies (CCS), who has been appointed as Teaching Fellow in Systematic and Philosophical Theology at King’s College London.

(27 Jul 2017) » More about Edward's reflections on his time at the CCS and his next step

Rev. Dr Gabrielle Thomas appointed to new project on ‘Ecclesial Learning about Women and the English Churches through Receptive Ecumenism’

The Rev. Dr Gabrielle Thomas

The Centre for Catholic Studies within the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University, in partnership with the Trust of the National Board of Catholic Women (NBCW) and the Caulfield Foundation, is pleased to announce the appointment of the Rev. Dr Gabrielle Thomas to a two year post-doctoral position in ‘Ecclesial Learning about Women and the English Churches through Receptive Ecumenism.’

Gabrielle Thomas, an ordained priest in the Church of England, recently completed her doctorate at the University of Nottingham on the theological anthropology of Gregory Nazianzen. Over the course of two years, she will be working closely with NBCW-sponsored regional ecumenical discussion groups, together with interviewing key individuals, in order to explore, using the methodology of receptive ecumenism, the diverse experiences women have of participating and ministering within the UK churches, the difficulties and challenges which arise, and what fruitful learning might occur across the traditions. She will also begin a complementary longer-term personal research project, focussed on how women may be both image of God and image of Christ according to the thought of Augustine of Hippo and Gregory of Nazianzus. 

(24 Jul 2017) » More about this appointment

Dr Anna Rowlands announced as the St Hilda Associate Professor of Catholic Social Thought and Practice

We are delighted to announce Dr Anna Rowlands as the St Hilda Associate Professor of Catholic Social Thought and Practice.

Dr Rowlands’ appointment in the University’s Department of Theology and Religion will take effect in September 2017.

(4 Jul 2017) » More about this new appointment

Registration now open for EMBIC III

Registration is now open for the third biennial conference Early Modern British and Irish Catholicism conference, The conference, entitled Early Modern Orders and Disorders: Religious Orders and British and Irish Catholicism, will take place at University of Notre Dame’s London Gateway on 28-30 June 2017.

More information

(16 May 2017)

International Conference: Catholicism, Literature, and the Arts: 1850 to the Present

Registration is now open for this conference, which will take place on 5-7 July 2017 in Durham, UK.

This conference is organised by the Centre for Catholic Studies at Durham University and Ushaw College and is supported by the Centre for Poetry and Poetics and the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture at Durham University, with co-sponsoring assistance from The Tablet, The Pastoral Review and the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain.

The conference will bring together leading scholars to address key questions in the study of Catholic art and writing, including the question of whether there is a distinctive tradition of ‘Catholic literature’. Among the main topics and themes of the conference are Catholic memoir and autobiography; Catholic fiction and poetry; Catholic readership; journalism; publishers and archives; and the visual arts. The conference will include film, music, and the visual arts, as well as literature. It will also draw on works of art and literature closely associated with Ushaw College.

(26 Apr 2017) » More about this conference

Call for Papers: Suffering, Diminishment and the Christian Life

Conference: January 8-10, 2018 at Ushaw College, Durham, UK

Is love intrinsically linked to suffering? Are suffering, diminishment and loss on some fundamental level good? This is the direction in which recent theological emphases on vulnerability and kenosis might seem to point. In this conference we will seek to bring the question of the status and meaning of suffering in Christian life and Christian theology into focus, and to reflect on it from the perspectives of biblical, historical, pastoral, political and systematic theology.

Send abstracts of between 200-300 words for 20-minute papers to Rachel Davies at by June 15, 2017.

(25 Apr 2017) » More about this call for papers

Refugee Hosts project: First newsletter now available

The four year AHRC-ESRC funded Refugee Hosts project (2016-2020), which is investigating local community experiences of and responses to conflict induced displacement from Syria: views from Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, is delighted to announce the release of our first newsletter. You can read and download the newsletter on the project's website

(23 Apr 2017) » More about this project

Life Amid Loss: What I Learned from the Sisters of La Retraite

Professor Karen Kilby (Bede Chair of Catholic Theology with the CCS) reflects on her collaboration with the Sisters of La Retraite in a new Commonweal article, available here.

(23 Feb 2017)

Postgraduate Study Day in Catholic Theology and Catholic Studies

Friday 2 June 2017 at Durham University

The CCS Postgraduate Study Day is a chance for postgraduates working in any aspect of contemporary Catholic theology and/or Catholic studies to meet and present their research in a collegial environment. Postgraduates are invited to submit proposals (title and 100-200 word abstract) for 20 minute papers on any area relevant to Catholic theology/Catholic studies, including constructive, practical, pastoral or political theology, Catholic Social Thought and Practice, the history of Catholicism, Catholicism, literature and the arts, and the social-scientific study of Catholicism. The deadline for submission of proposals is 1 April 2017. The deadline to book a place at the day is 9 May 2017.


(13 Feb 2017) » More about the Postgraduate Study Day

Durham University to develop new international residential research library at Ushaw College

A new international residential research library, the only one of its kind in the UK, is to be developed at Ushaw College, in a £2 million project led by Durham University.

It is intended that leading researchers from around the world will visit Ushaw to study and work with its outstanding collections, along with those of Durham Cathedral and the University’s Palace Green Library, enhancing the thriving scholarly community that already exists in and around Durham City.

Further information

(3 Feb 2017)

Public Lecture on the Reform of Company Law

Industry More Content, Finance Less Proud: A fresh perspective and ethical grounding for the reform of company law

Dr Mark Hayes (St Hilda Reader Emeritus, Centre for Catholic Studies, Durham University)

Monday 21st November, 7pm to 9pm
at CAFOD, Pavilion, Romero House, 55 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7JB 

To book a place, please email Jane Lidstone at

(15 Nov 2016) » More about this public lecture

New monograph by Dr Nicole Reinhardt

"Voices of Conscience: Royal Confessors and Political Counsel in Seventeenth-Century Spain and France"

Oxford University Press


(18 Oct 2016) » More about this monograph

50 Years of Walking Together in Faith; Exploring New Directions in Anglican-Roman Catholic Relations

On Wednesday 5 October 2016, Prof Paul Murray and Dr Anna Rowlands will speak at a symposium of 36 Catholic and Anglican bishops, entitled '50 years of walking together in faith; exploring new directions in Anglican-Roman Catholic relations'.

(3 Oct 2016) » More about this symposium

Centre for Catholic Studies Annual Report

The latest Centre for Catholic Studies Annual Report (to March 2016) is available here.

(23 Jun 2016)

History of Catholicism Alive at Durham University

To fully understand the English Catholic martyrs, they must be re-contextualized in the era in which they lived.

This was the message of Professor Michael Questier speaking at Ushaw College on Catholic martyrdom in late Elizabethan England. In his lecture, which was part of the Ushaw lectures series organised by Durham University’s Centre for Catholic Studies in the Department of Theology and Religion, Professor Questier suggested that portraying the martyrs in a white-washed way separated them from the nation’s history of which they are very much a part.

(23 May 2016) » More about History of Catholicism Alive at Durham University

Paschal Mercy and the Power of Belief

Rachel Davies, a PhD student at the Centre for Catholic Studies, has had an article published in the Tablet.

The mercy of God and the rising and dying of Christ are two of the central mysteries of the Christian faith. Rachel Davies explores how one mystery might illuminate the other.

The article can be found here. (Please note that, to access the full article, you might be asked to register with the Tablet website. This is free of charge.)

(23 May 2016)

St Hilda Chair in Catholic Social Thought and Practice: Dr Mark Hayes confirmed as inaugural appointee

Dr Mark Hayes

The Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University, within which the Centre for Catholic Studies (CCS) is situated, and Durham University Business School are delighted to announce the concurrent appointment of Dr Mark Hayes as the inaugural holder of the St Hilda Chair in Catholic Social Thought and Practice. Dr Hayes’ appointment will begin in September 2014, when he will be installed as a Reader of Durham University.

(24 Jun 2014) » More about St Hilda Chair in Catholic Social Thought and Practice: Dr Mark Hayes confirmed as inaugural appointee