Cardinal John Henry Newman

My friend Fr. C.J. McCloskey had a good piece on Newman. Newman’s vision of the laity at the center of a revival of religion may yet prove to be prophetic.

The Economist notes that the Pope’s visit to Britain is possible only because of the “amnesia” of the people there. The beatification of Newman on English soil, even a generation ago, would have been “intensely provocative.” Britain is now a post-Christian society. The conflicts that agitated people in the past simply make no sense to their grandchildren. Watching the magnates of the Anglican Church greeting Benedict and intoning solemn-sounding phrases in ancient cathedrals was odd, the regalia and pomp completely out of step with the emptiness of their churches on any given Sunday, by all reliable accounts. The Anglicans do sing nicely, though.

The recognition of Newman’s greatness in his own country is only possible because the people there no longer care about religion one way or the other, except, decreasingly, as a matter of custom and tradition. Newman’s message will take root in foreign locales, where the church is growing, not in the dead soil of Europe, the browning husk of Christendom.

4 thoughts on “Cardinal John Henry Newman”

  1. Not exactly correct. There are people in Great Britain who care about religion intensely. All you have to do is walk around on a Friday to find them.

  2. Although I adore Swift Boater’s comment, and also frightened by, I would not underestimate B16’s efforts to reunite Christendom and possibly to revive it. And correctly – at least from his point of view – he’s started form the Lefebvre’s flock and now he’s on the least reformed of the Protestants. From a doctrinal point of view the differences are minimal between Roma and Canterbury. We all know how the schism started and what were the reasons: non really theological. It has never been a Sola Scriptura matter, on that side of the Channel.
    In Roma, on the newspapers who give more attention to the Vatican diplomacy, various rumours have spread since Ratzinger came to Peter’s throne: possibility of women priests and such, just to make it easy for the Anglican confession to ‘federate’ with the Catholic Apostolic church à la byzantine, Assyrian, Caldean.
    I don’t know where this continuos work will lead this pope and his church. I don’t even know if Europe is a «dead soil»: perhaps I’m just too European to say. But things are moving, as this western peninsula of Eurasia is not yet a desert.

  3. If Benedict can help to revive Christianity in Europe, I will be very happy, if I live to see it.

    There is zero chance of women priests in the Catholic Church.

    But there are Anglican Use Catholic churches which have married priests, for example.

    There has been a lot of outreach to the Eastern churches, too.

    Benedict is not sitting around waiting for things to happen, that’s for sure.

    God can make stones into bread, and raise the dead. He can bring the faith back to Europe, too. We need saints to make it happen. Maybe, Sejo, you will be one of them.

  4. You will pardon me for my poor use of English language: I did not mean that the Catholic church is going to have women priests, but that the rumours the ‘vaticanists’ report – journalist specialized in Vatican matters, that is, I ignore if you have a word like that – say that possibly they could be authorized for the confessions that already have them in their ranks to make them easy to re/unite with Roma. The example you give for the Anglican Use churches is what I meant about these special constitutions, and you’re right when you say of Eastern churches.

    As for saints, from a secular, mondane point of view, I totally agree with you: this lands need a little bit of self-respect, rediscovering the greatness of humility. That great character of the people who worked restlessly to build cathedrals and merchants’ squares all over the cities and towns. Still, for what it’s worth my prayer, I hope there won’t be need for new martyrs and we’ll be spared from other distructions. Far too wars have seen Europe as theatre of operations. Nonetheless, what are Madrid 2004 and London 2005 victims? Perhaps, ‘just’ that.

    To cut it short, and with much respect and attention for the point of view you and anyone can have from the States, do not give this lands as lost. They are not as long as there’s life here.
    Sure, we’re facing hard changes and we’ll have to rediscuss things that constitute our own perceived identity – even the welfare state, which could seem a blasphemy to your ears but has been a pillar of our reconciled coexistence – because of the dramatic aging of our population. But I’m confident: Europe – as a federalist feeling, as in Spinelli’s and Rossi’s manifesto – could become an Orwellian affair, it partially is as EU, but also the womb of the United States of Europe. Games are open.
    It takes faith, sure, and will take time and a pretty measure of goodwill, but I’m confident.

    Best regards.

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