Claiming Cardinal Newman...

Damian Thompson has picked up on a really rather nasty article in The Sunday Times. I got some way through the Times article and then couldn't be arsed with the rest. Now that I'm re-reading it, it really is horrible.

John Cornwell asserts in his unambiguous and unimaginatively headlined article, 'Why Cardinal Newman is No Saint', that...

'Benedict and the traditionalist wing of Catholicism nevertheless claim Newman as a faithful supporter of the papal “magisterium” — pontifical dogmas on a raft of issues. When addressing Britain’s bishops three months ago, the Pope cited Newman as an enemy to Catholic dissidence in any shape or form.'
He continues...
'As the Pope prepares for his visit to the UK, he is clearly bent on sanitising Newman’s progressive Catholicism in preparation for the beatification. But Newman was certainly a dissident when it came to overbearing papal authority, creeping infallibility, the downgrading of the laity, the primacy of papal dogma over individual conscience. He wrote of an ageing pope: “He becomes a god, has no one to contradict him, does not know facts, and does cruel things without meaning it.” If Newman is in heaven, as all Catholics surely believe, he is likely to be exerting his influence with the Almighty — not to produce miracles, but to stop his own transmogrification into an official plaster saint. He once wrote: “I have no tendency to be a saint — it is a sad thing to say so. Saints are not literary men...” Newman knew his own conscience, and he knew the difference between a saint and sinner. He was also secure in his priorities. “I shall drink to the Pope if you please,” he once wrote, “... still to conscience first and the Pope afterwards.” If Pope Benedict makes it to England in September, he is unlikely to preach to that text.'
Gosh, that is a controversial quote, but I expect that his conscience and that of the Pope chimed in harmony since they both sang from the same hymn sheet and loved doing so. People who are disloyal to the Holy Doctrine of Papal Infallibility and disagree with the Pope on matters of Faith and Morals tend not to be considered for beatification. If the Church really thought Newman was the kind of man who'd vote for Caroline Lucas, I doubt very much he would be in contention for his raising to the Altar.

Now, I don't actually know that much about Cardinal Newman, but I do know that he was part of the  'Oxford Movement' which argued that the Anglican Church was one of three branches of the Catholic Church, until he realised that it was impossible and joined the Church founded on the Rock of St Peter, the Ark of Truth Herself, the Catholic Church. He grew to see, much like many converts from Anglicanism or any Protestant denomination, that the Church contained and preached the fullness of Truth. He loved Truth and loved Truth to the end. I also know that he wrote a very profound and beautiful 'Stations of the Cross'. Obviously, all Saints had sins and weaknesses over which they personally struggled, and going by his sublime 'Stations of the Cross', lamented, but I don't believe that there is too much for the Holy Father to 'sanitise' when it comes to Newman.

It is obvious from his personal writings that he was a man who loved God ardently. He also loved Fr Ambrose St John, true, but there is little to suggest that their love was anything more than the highest form of chaste brotherly love to which we men are called. Peter Tatchell will, of course, argue that they were both tortured homosexuals who were chomping at the bit to jump into bed with each other but Tatchell fails to comprehend (and perhaps he cannot comprehend this) that 'same-sex attraction' can actually be a very good and holy thing. St Francis of Assisi and his disciples loved each other joyfully, Francis attaining to the Perfection of Christian Love, but he, of course, like the rest of his disciples, wasn't boning anyone.

Cornwell wheels out Clifford Longley of The Tablet, who we can only presume by his frequent carping and regularly liberal, Catholic by numbers contributions to one of the UK's most atrocious magazines, doesn't like the Pope or the Magisterium of the Church nearly half as much as Newman did. Longley, helpful as ever, is quoted as having said...

“The idea that God would demonstrate that a saint is truly in heaven by instantly healing someone’s fatal illness because he has been petitioned by the said saint — who is in turn responding to the petitions of the sufferer or those near to him — seems to me so simplistic, so credulous, so presumptuous, so mechanical and so manipulative, that it brings no credit to the Catholic religion and indeed confirms the worst prejudices of its enemies.”

Dear, dear! Well, shower me with roses, indeed! How did you miss St Theresa of Lisieux when she toured? Go to the tomb of St Anthony of Padua, mate, and see the pictures and notes written to the dear Saint thanking him for healings, miracles, intercessory favours and general graces, from people around the globe!

Man! That man doesn't just stop at a couple of miracles, just so that a couple of 11th century gout sufferers knew he was in Heaven after he'd died! "Howdy boys! It sure is nice up here!" Since he died in the middle ages, he seems to have been working pretty much around the clock, 24/7, 365 days a year and, what's more, he's not even doing it to show off! You may think that miracles and healings are a naff way of telling if someone is in Paradise, but the Church on Earth has limited access to the Court of Heaven, what with there being no fax number or email for Christ's Kingdom and I guess that both the Church Militant and Church Triumphant just have to try their best to get the message across! One begins to wonder sometimes whether the 'worst prejudices' of the Church's 'enemies' are suffered by those on the inside, rather than the outside of the Body of Christ!

Ruth Gledhill continues the Newman 'debate', though, I must say, I did not know there was any debate about the obvious loyalty of Newman to the Magisterium, with her suspicion and dread that indeed, Cardinal John Henry Newman might have been a 'frightening', 'hard-core' Catholic. Wouldn't that be terrible! God forbid that England's soon to be newest Beatus should have loved the Teaching of the Church and adhered loyally to Christ's precepts rather than to have spent his daytime encouraging vice and his evening campaigning for a papal endorsement of the sheath! Were he to write a brief thesis and send it from Heaven to Ruth Gledhill of The Times, I'd imagine he'd manage to find time to condemn artificial contraception and gay marriage quite easily and footnote his essay with numerous Church documents from down the ages.

She does, however, helpfully remind us that...

'...before Newman can be canonised, evidence is required of another miracle through his intercession'

So, get your prayers into the ears of a kind and holy man who the Church and the Holy Father believes is in Heaven pronto, lads and lasses, because it sounds like, what with His Holiness coming to the UK to beatify the great admirer of Truth and fighter against heresy, that God wants to glorify His Servant!

Comments

berenike said…
The Oxford movement was Anglicanism-as-the-Oxford-Movement-thought-it-"really"-was. They were very anxious to avoid suggesting that they were in any way going over to Rome. It was only those who came to realise that their position was a fiction, "unreal", that poped.)
Thanks, have corrected.
Savonarola said…
You should have said, 'England's soon to be newest Beatus' (singular), not 'Beati' (plural). People who claim to be devoted to the Mass in Latin often make this sort of elementary mistake. Maybe it's better to stick to English.