Papers of a theologian and Assumptionist priest known for his work on ecumenism. Includes manuscripts for published and unpublished works; professional and personal correspondence; audio recordings of lectures and speeches; published articles and book reviews. Also includes records from his assignment as a "peritus" (expert advisor to the bishops) during the Second Vatican Council, including his involvement in the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, and subsequent interreligious dialogues.

Gift of Rev. George H. Tavard, 1994.


Biographical Note

George Henri Tavard, author and theologian, was born in Nancy, France, on 6 February 1922. Following his ordination to the order of the Augustinians of the Assumption, he received his doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Catholic Faculties of Lyons in 1949. Father Tavard immigrated to the United States in 1952 and began an academic career which included service at Assumption College, Mount Mercy College, Pennsylvania  State University, and Methodist Theological School in Ohio, from which he retired as Professor Emeritus in 1990. He later served as visiting professor at institutions in the United States, Canada, and Kenya, including Marquette University.

A noted ecumenist, Tavard  attended Vatican Council II as a "peritus" (expert) and consultant to the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, and later engaged in bilateral dialogues with representatives of the Anglican,.Lutheran, and Methodist churches. He wrote and lectured extensively in the areas of historical theology, ecumenism, and spirituality, authoring or contributing to more than 50 books and publishing hundreds of articles.  He became one of the first Catholic theologians to publicly support the ordination of women to the priesthood (Women in the Christian Tradition, University of Notre Dame Press, 1973). Father Tavard remained active until his sudden death in a Paris airport on 13 August 2007, at the age of 85.

Scope and Content

Series 1,  Biographical and Subject Files, 1952-2002, contains information on Tavard's ecumenical dialogues, photographs, and writings on GHT, along with a file of "famous autographs," , including letters from Eugene Carson Blake, Henri de Lubac, and Flannery O'Connor.

Series 2, Correspondence, 1956-1998, includes letters from friends and former students and letters from Tavard to Catherine Linarelli and Joan Lorentz.

Series 3, Writings, 1948-2006, undated, consists of Tavard's articles, book reviews, dissertation, editorials, presentations, and unpublished manuscripts. 

Series 4, Audio and Video Recordings, 1958-1997, consists of audio recordings of Tavard's presentations, arranged by format  (reel-to-reel and cassette) and chronologically thereunder, and the video recording of the celebration of the publication of a festschrift in his honor. Of note is a recording of the talk titled "The Moral Imperative for the Ordination of Women," delivered at the first Women's Ordination Conference in 1975.

Series 5, Second Vatican Council, 1960-1968, 1970, 1982, consists largely of files Tavard maintained during his years as a Council advisor and consultant to one its preparatory commissions, the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. Included are correspondence, drafts, and reports. Many of the documents are in Latin.