Clerical Modernisers and the Media in Ireland: The Journalism of Fr Gerry Reynolds

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This article analyses the journalism of Fr Gerry Reynolds, a Redemptorist priest, in the context of modernisation in Ireland. It explores how both Catholic traditionalists who feared modernisation and ‘clerical modernisers’ who embraced it sought influence through the media. Clerical modernisers saw the media as a means to renew the Church in line with the teachings of Vatican II, which is generally interpreted as the international Catholic Church’s attempt to engage with modernity. The article locates Reynolds among the clerical modernisers and describes two periods in which he devoted a substantial amount of time to journalism. The first was between 1962-1975, when he was based in Dublin and worked for Redemptorist Publications and the Catholic Communications Institute. The second was between 1987-1989, when he was based in Belfast and wrote a regular column for the Irish News. In both periods, Reynolds emphasised Vatican II themes like the priority of individual conscience, recognising the gifts of laity and women, and ecumenism. From a twenty-first century standpoint, Reynolds’ vision of the Church has only partially been fulfilled. But like other clerical modernisers, he contributed to a cautious modernisation of Irish Catholicism from within.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-651
JournalContemporary British History
Issue number4
Early online date14 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2020


  • Catholic Church in Ireland
  • Clerical Modernisers
  • Modernisation
  • Redemptorists
  • Catholic Media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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