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Elizabeth Anscombe, R.I.P.

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 Contents - Mar 2001AD2000 March 2001 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: ACU theology: prompt action needed - Peter Westmore
New cardinals to continue John Paul II's agenda - AD2000 Report
News: The Church Around the World
Seminary numbers up in orthodox US dioceses - Michael S. Rose
How Archbishop Pell will implement Statement on Women in the Church
Elizabeth Anscombe, R.I.P. - Robert P. George
ACU theology: how orthodox, how accountable? - Michael Gilchrist
Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter ordinations
How monastic life can reinvigorate the Church - Fr Peter Knowles OP
Cardinal Ratzinger on 'Third Secret' of Fatima
What we must teach our children: Archbishop Chaput - Archbishop Charles J. Chaput
New Catholic radio program to start in WA
The surprise Cardinal: Fr Avery Dulles SJ - Zenit News Service
Letters: Euthanasia in S.A. (letter) - Errol P. Duke
Letters: Science and Christianity (letter) - Scot Chaston
Letters: Enneagram workshop (letter) - Br Con Moloney CFC
Letters: Church doctrine? (letter) - Frank Mobbs
Letters: Anti-Catholicism (letter) - Frank Bellet
Letters: Old liturgical books (letter) - Frank Carleton
Letters: Latin (letter) - Karmenu Attard
Letters: Supernatural order (letter) - Fr G.H. Duggan SM
Letters: Misguided compassion (letter)
Letters: G.K. Chesterton (letter) - Nancy McKelson
Letters: EWTN tapes (letter) - John Lovegrove
Letters: Vocations and orthodoxy (letter) - John Schmid
Letters: Third Rite in Toowoomba (letter) - Mark Power
Letters: Poem to Our Lady - Marion Craig
Letters: Appeal from India (letter) - Kevin L. Fernandes
Letters: Catholic education (letter) - Daniel Bryce
Letters: Boredom? (letter) - Josephine Landsberg
Books: Come To The Father: An Invitation to Share the Catholic Faith, Aidan Nichols OP - Christopher Quinn (reviewer)
Books: Streams of Living Water: Autobiography of a Charismatic Leader - Anthony Cappello (reviewer)
Books: Why the hopes of the Council Fathers of Vatican II are yet to be realised - Michael Daniel (reviewer)
Books: Why I Am A Priest: Thirty Success Stories, ed. Boadt, Hunt - Katie Lindorff (reviewer)
Books: The Pange Lingua Hymnal, compiled by Paul Newton - Fr Gregory Pritchard PP (reviewer)
Reflection: Liturgy in the true spirit of Vatican II - Ralph McInerny

Elizabeth Anscombe, who died at the age of 81 in January, was a titan in the world of philosophy, and one of the 20th century's most remarkable women.

At Cambridge, she studied with the world-renowned philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, and upon his death in 1951 became one of his literary executors. Despite her personal loyalty to the great man, Anscombe was never one of his disciples. What she had in common with her teacher was a bold and original cast of mind, which led her to views different from his in many important respects.

In 1970, Elizabeth Anscombe had the satisfaction of being appointed to the chair in Cambridge that had been held by Wittgenstein.

Her impact on academic philosophy was matched by her influence in Catholic intellectual circles. Like so many of the greatest Catholic philosophers of her century - Michael Dummett, John Finnis, Jacques Maritain, Peter Geach (Anscombe's husband, with whom she had seven children) and Edith Stein - Elizabeth Anscombe was a convert. Her faith and devotion to the Church were profound. Among her most remarkable essays is a pamphlet on teaching children the meaning of the Eucharist.

In 1968, when much of the rest of the Catholic intellectual world reacted with shock and anger to Pope Paul VI's reaffirmation of Catholic teaching regarding the immorality of contraception, the Geach- Anscombe family toasted the announcement with champagne. Her defence of the teaching in the essay "Contraception and Chastity" is an all-too-rare example of rigorous philosophical argumentation on matters of sexual ethics.

From the beginning of the controversy over abortion, Elizabeth Anscombe recognised that the practice constituted the unjust killing of innocent human beings. Not content merely to write on the subject, she assumed an active role in the pro-life movement.

Although legendary for her eccentricities (such as smoking cigars), Anscombe could always say exactly why she thought what she thought, and did what she did, on things that mattered.

Tribute by Robert P. George, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University.

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 14 No 2 (March 2001), p. 7

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