Obituary: The Most Rev Henry McAdoo

EARLY IN the spring of 1994, a large envelope arrived with the morning post at the Rectory in Guildford. I recognised straight away the elegant back hand in royal blue washable and knew that I was in for a treat.

Inside was an extended essay of 30,000 words on the eucharistic theology of the Anglican tradition. It represented the distilled and reflective mind of a man who had lived with all the questions of continuity and discontinuity at the Reformation, as well as the intricacies of ecumenical dialogue in our own time. But the letter accompanying this manuscript was neither a suggestion nor an invitation nor a challenge, but a command - for me to write a corresponding essay, of the same length, so that together our first (and only) joint book could be published, to try to get across to a fresh generation the importance and distinctiveness of Anglican theology in the sacrament of unity.

Neither of us made any claim to originality in The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Anglican Tradition (as it appeared the following year), but we were helping - in our different styles - to alert Christians of all persuasions who were trying to understand each other and their own traditions better.

Henry McAdoo issued these commands, but those of us who knew and loved him well realised that they came from a warm heart and a ready imagination. Stories about him abound in the Church of Ireland in much the same way that they did in England about the late Archbishop Michael Ramsey, who invited McAdoo, with all his wealth of knowledge of 17th-century Anglicanism, to serve as the first Anglican co- chairman of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, from 1969 to 1981.

Those were the heady years of forward strides as that distinguished commission sat down to thrash out official agreements on Eucharist and ministry, "at the level of faith" - as I once heard Harry McAdoo's Roman Catholic partner, Bishop Alan Clark, described it. However complex the process of clarification and reception that these agreements have since received, they simply would not have seen the light of day without McAdoo's firm historical grasp of principle and his careful ear as to how others might hear it.

McAdoo was born in Cork and educated at Cork Grammar School and Mountjoy School in Dublin. He was a brilliant scholar, and earned both his doctorates, the first by thesis, the second for published work, on Anglican theology. His first major work, The Structure of Caroline Moral Theology, appeared in 1949; its main achievement was to draw fresh attention to the way in which writers such as Jeremy Taylor - to whom he remained particularly devoted - combined the attractiveness and demand of the Christian gospel with practical ways in which Christians could "progress" in their discipleship. Although in some ways dated now, that book's message remains at the forefront of many churches today, not only Anglican.

Then followed, in 1965, The Spirit of Anglicanism, a study of 17th-century Anglican theology which covers writers as diverse as Richard Hooker and Lancelot Andrewes, as well as Edward Stillingfleet and Simon Patrick. He argued repeatedly that what later generations described as "Anglican" was neither compromised nor fudged, but a conscious and reflective determination to hold together the paradoxes of Christian tradition, and to see a genuine quest for truth and divine revelation in that work.

He became a convinced advocate of the ordination of women, and last year published a book entitled Anglicans and Tradition and the Ordination of Women.

McAdoo's theological writing was done not in the university world, but as a parish priest, in the diocese of Cork, where he served as an incumbent and then Dean of the Cathedral, until his consecration as Bishop of Ossory, Ferns and Leighlin in 1962, after which he was Archbishop of Dublin, from 1977 to 1985. As Bishop of Ossory from 1962 to 1977 he served the City of Kilkenny well, and was proud to bear the title of Freeman. It is at Kilkenny that he will be buried on Monday.

Harry McAdoo was a warm family man, and married Lesley Weir at Waterford in 1940, and they were the proud parents of Anne, Gabrielle, and Martin. To sit at table with him, surrounded by his family was an experience I shall never forget. The anecdotes rolled forth, from meeting the Pope to fly-fishing. And, through the billows of tobacco smoke, one was aware of being in the presence of a scholar pastor of rare ability.

In 1989 McAdoo - already four years into retirement - published The Eucharistic Theology of Jeremy Taylor Today, which is perhaps one of his most distinguished pieces of work. The book is not only an exposition of a neglected and original figure in the founding years of Anglicanism, but a work of true ecumenism, in which McAdoo repeatedly compared Taylor's method to that adopted by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, no less!

Again and again, he used a much-loved phrase, "moral-ascetic theology". This was the heart of Harry McAdoo's theology, in which discipleship and prayer lived side by side, and tradition developed, interpreted by scripture and reason. His lifelong discipleship leaves many legacies.

Henry Robert McAdoo, priest: born Cork 10 January 1916; ordained deacon 1939, priest 1940; Incumbent of Castleventry with Ardfield 1943-48, with Kilmeen 1947-48; Rector of Kilmocomogue 1948-52; Rural Dean of Glansalney West and Bere 1948- 52; Canon of Kilbrittain in Cork Cathedral, and Canon of Donoughmore in Cloyne Cathedral 1949-52; Dean of Cork 1952-62; Canon of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin 1960-62; Bishop of Ossory, Ferns and Leighlin 1962-77; member, Anglican-Roman Catholic Preparatory Commission 1967-68; Joint Chairman, Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission 1969-81; Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland 1977-85; married 1940 Lesley Weir (one son, two daughters); died Dalkey, Co Dublin 10 December 1998.

Arts and Entertainment
Emo rockers Fall Out Boy

music

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment

film

Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links