Born: Woking, England, 26 February 1943, son of John Basil and Agnes Emily (née Tolhurst) Tanner. Lived in Esher (1943-8) and Limpsfield (1948-61) Surrey, England. Schools: Sacred Heart Convent, Woldingham, Surrey, 1948-51; Avisford School, Arundel, Sussex, 1951-6; Ampleforth College, Yorkshire, 1956-61. 1961- member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Novice 1961-3. 1963-6 studied Philosophy at Heythrop College, Oxfordshire; Licentiate awarded 1966. 1966-72 studied History and Medieval Church History at Oxford University: BA in History 1969; MA 1974; DPhil 1974 (thesis: “Popular religion in Norwich, with special reference to the evidence of wills, 1370-1532″). 1973-6 studied Theology at the Gregorian University, Rome; BTh awarded 1976. 1976 ordained Roman Catholic priest. 1977-8 assistant priest, Farm Street parish, London W1.
1978 onwards: Oxford University 1978-2003: member of History Faculty 1986-2003, member of Theology Faculty 1989-2003, University Research Lecturer 1997-2003. Appointments at Campion Hall (Hall of Oxford University): Tutor in Church History 1978-2003, Prefect of Studies / Senior Tutor 1981-97, Librarian 1981-2003. Heythrop College, London University: Lecturer (part-time) in Church History 1982-2003. Gregorian University, Rome, 2003-: Professor (Ordinarius), Faculty of Theology 2003-07, Faculty of Church History 2007-, Dean, Faculty of Church History (Facoltà di Storia e Beni Culturali della Chiesa) 2009-. Visiting Lecturer / Professor (Church Councils and/or Church History) at the following: Hekima College (Catholic University of East Africa), Nairobi, Kenya, 1991, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009; Chishawasha National Seminary, Harare, Zimbabwe, 1991, 1996, 2000, 2003; Cedara College, near Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 1991; Vidyajyoti Theological College, Delhi, India, 1996, 1999; St Augustine College, Johannesburg, South Africa, 1999; St John Vianney Seminary, Pretoria, South Africa, 1999; Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune, India, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2006; Centre Sèvres, Paris, France, 2000; Gregorian University, Rome, Italy, 2000 and 2002; College General, Penang, Malaysia, 2001; Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2001; Institut de Théologie de la Compagnie de Jesus (ITCJ), Côte d’Ivoire, 2008. Fellow of Royal Historical Society 1988-. Member of Ecclesiastical History Society. Member of Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain. Various work in parishes, giving retreats and other pastoral work during this time. In short, academically: (1) leading authority on the ecumenical/general councils of the Church (Nicea I, 325, to Vatican II, 1962-5); (2) scholar of the medieval Church; (3) scholar in various other topics, mainly in Church History. Editor, Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu, and responsible for publications within Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu, Rome, 2012-. D.Litt (Honoris Causa), Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto, 2013