Appeared in Vol. XIII, No. 3 Download PDF here
For all his logical powers Newman was not enthralled by the vertical vision of the Church rising from the Rock. His preferred view of the Church was horizontal: the Kingdom of God spread all over the world. This view matched his vision of and enormous fondness for Oxford where alone, he felt, he could really use his talents. Logic caught up with him when, several months after the definition of papal infallibility, an Anglican acquaintance of his pointed out to him that his footdragging about the binding force of the de nition amounted to advoc tting Protestantism inside the Catholic Church. This was, of course, the very last thing Newman wanted to do in any form covert, indirect, or inadvertent contrary to some recent interpreters of his idea of the Church.
The Oxford where young Newman wanted to live and work for the rest of his life was not yet as positively identified with logic as was the case a century later when logical positivism became its trademark. But prowess in logic could deliver much even in the Oxford of young Newman. The assurance of lifelong livelihood there came to him when, at the exam for fellowship in Oriel, he far excelled his competitors in a field, mathematics, whose closeness to logic was by then drawing growing attention. He was far from being adversely disposed to Oriel by the advanced warning that the Common Room there “stank of logic.”‘ The Oxford of those days was certainly proud of having a logician of the stature of Richard Whately, who in turn quickly discovered a potential intellectual heir in the new Fellow at Oriel.2
Newman’s logical powers turned in fact into one of his two famed characteristics. The other was the sincerity with which he pursued an often heroic course of reflection and action. Among Newman’s foes who berated his logical powers and sincerity in one and the same stroke was Queen Victoria’s chaplain, Charles Kingsley, whose denunciation of Newman triggered the writing of the Apologia. Although urged by Macmillan’s Magazine to rebut that masterpiece, Kingsley declined on the ground that it was useless to waste time on one who had amply demonstrated his illogicality by accepting the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and believed in papal infallibility. Nor did Kingsley wish to become the victim of Newman’s unconscionable use of his powers in logic:
“I cannot be weak enough to put myself a second time, by any fresh act of courtesy, into the power of one who like a treacherous ape, lifts to you meek and suppliant eyes, till he thinks he has you within his reach, and then springs gibbering and biting at your face.3
Cardinal Manning, the chief among Newman’s foes within the Church, had similar and no less vehement reservations about Newman. Nine years after Newman had been raised to the cardinalate, Manning still felt it to be a horrible mistake for which he laid the lion’s share of responsibility on Bishop Ullathorne. Much of their last conversation was taken up by Manning’s reiterating the charge: “You do not know Newman as I do. He simply twists you round his little finger; he bamboozles you with his carefully selected words and plays so subtly with his logic that your simplicity is taken in. You are no match for him.4
Friends of Newman and the no less vast circle of his admirers have not, of course, failed to be impressed by the combination of his logic and sincerity. Gladstone, who warned his fellow Anglicans about their failure to grasp the true measure of loss Newman’s conversion inflicted on them,5 described Newman’s mind as “hard enough to cut the diamond and bright as the diamond which it cuts.”6 His logic enabled Newman to make a new approach to the development of dogma and to explore a field, previously untouched, the complex structure of assenting to a proposition. In both cases Newman displayed two main aspects of the inner power of logic. One is the attention to the many nuances and ramifications of a leading idea, the other is the relentless drive whereby the ultimate implication is unfolded.
This second aspect of one’s bent on logic can easily go hand in hand with an impulse to be a leader in the grip of a most specific goal. Newman certainly had that impulse. That in his younger years he loved to dwell on Wellington’s exploits, revealed his penchant for the role of commander or at least of a chief of staff. He naturally became the unofficial leader of the Oxford Movement, which he engaged in a campaign aiming at nothing less than the restoration of the Church of England to its status as the ideal Church. By that restoration he meant to implement what he used to call, in his Parochial and Plain Sermons, the “imperial” notion of the Church as a visible continuation of Old Testament theocracy.7 He opposed anything that would compromise that restoration – not only the liberalism and secularism of many Anglican churchmen but also the emancipation of Catholics.8 He saw that theocracy as an empire acting with power in all but one respect: it was not to wield weapons.9
After his conversion, Newman lived for years in the belief that another spiritual campaign issuing in the conversion en masse of Anglican clergy and lay leaders could be brought about. The final stage of that phase of Newman’s thinking was the course of lectures he gave in 1850 on Difficulties of Anglicans. From a distance of forty years the memory of those lectures evoked to one present the combination of unmistakable sincerity and irresistible logic. The sincerity, E. Hutton remembered, came through the delivery “singularly sweet, perfectly free from any dictatorial note.” But the relentless return to the incoherence of the Anglican position as a mere instrument of the Establishment was clearly characteristic of a victorious strategist for whom it was sufficient to unfold the self-destructive predicament of his opponents. Newman succinctly put that predicament in a metaphor: “The Anglicans had reared a goodly house, but their foundations were falling in. The soil and masonry were bad.”10 This phrase, which Hutton found the most representative of the whole book, had much more to it than was perceived either by him or by any other of Newman’s interpreters or by Newman himself for that matter.
Meanwhile, Newman most energetically turned to the task of injecting intellectual and theological vigor into the Catholic Church in England and Ireland. The Idea of a University was aptly called an intellectual strategy worthy of an “imperial intellect.”11 Newman was not allowed to be the chief of staff of that strategy. But the failure of his rectorship in Dublin only helped him to direct his energy first to defend the honesty of Catholic clergy in a lawsuit that created national attention and which, precisely because of his losing it, earned him a major victory: No less important a mouthpiece of the establishment than The Times was forced to admit that Roman Catholics could not yet count on the impartiality of the British Courts.12 Then came the undivided concentration of Newman’s energies on the Oratory in Birmingham. There he could act, if necessary, in the manner of a ruler who would be
declared as a despot in this age when, in the name of “due process,” festering abuses within the clergy and religious are protected for years from quick “surgical” interventions. Even in his eighties, Newman could entertain thoughts of vast new strategies, strategies that only popes could conceive of.
Were he to be elected pope, he said in 1884, he would set up a number of high level commissions concerning the most urgent questions relating to the present and the immediate future of the Church.13
If his fiercely independent character is an indication, he would, as pope, have hardly acted as a mere moderator of commissions of cardinals, bishops, and theologians. On that ground alone it is quite possible to envision Newman as a pope who would reply to an inquiry about a controverted document lying in front of him as did Pius IX: “I have not yet read it, so it cannot be condemned. For I am the captain of the ship.”14 But there are other grounds too, far more telling and very factual, for believing that the idea of a pope, with the undisputed powers of a ship’s captain on the high seas, was very germane to Newman’s thinking. Just about the time when the push of Ultramontanes was getting in high gear on behalf of a declaration of papal infallibility, Newman told Pusey in a long letter that the ecumenical program “Eirenicon” advocated by him was an invitation for Catholics to “commit suicide.” The reason for this was, Newman argued, that the Church Pusey envisaged was a “dead thing, a paper code” unworthy of being “the object of faith.” The latter was not simply “certain articles A. B. C. D. contained in dumb documents, but the whole word of God, explicit, and implicit, as dispensed by his living Church. On this point, I am sure, there can be no Eirenicon; for it marks a fundamental, elementary difference between the Anglican view and ours, and every attempt to bridge it over will but be met in the keen and stern temper of Cardinal Patrizzi’s letter.”15
Newman’s approving reference to “keen and stern temper” was only introductory to something far more astringent. While Pusey raised an apparently practical question about the Pope’s limited jurisdiction in a future ecumenical church, Newman rushed with his logic from practicality to principles. By principles he meant even more than “true doctrine” although that was always very high in his eyes. “Doctrine is the voice of a religious body, its principles are of its substance. The principles may be turned into doctrines by being defined; but they live as necessities before definition, and are the less likely to be defined because they are so essential to life.”16
The reality of life was not, however, for Newman unlikely to be defined in the form of principles as if he viewed life with the romantics as an ultimately elusive feeling. For him life meant unrestricted specific implementations in line with his idea of an “imperial” church, that is, the kingdom of God on earth, as was, mutatis mutandis the Davidic kingdom as God’s covenant. Such a kingdom had to have a Ruler with the power over any and all. The pope’s “universal jurisdiction” followed from his function which was not to be a mere figurehead. The pope was not to act “as a man of straw” but “as a bond of unity.”17 Clearly, Newman meant a bond that was not mere sentiment but a strict constraint if necessary.
Ready to run along with the force of logic, Newman was prepared to spell out in specifics what was meant by universal jurisdiction. It not only extended over all Christians but over all matter connected with their stand in a real world as the arena of spiritual struggle for eternal salvation: “Now the Church is a Church militant, and, as the commander of an army is despotic, so must the visible head of the Church be; and therefore in its idea the Pope’s jurisdiction can hardly be limited” (Italics added). Since this was sheer logic, the logician could unabashedly make himself seen: “I am not dealing with antecedent arguments. I am accounting for a fact. It is Whateley’s `a’ is not ‘A’. I have proposed to draw out the facts as a matter of principle not of doctrine.18
The Newman of this long letter can hardly be pictured as one who would countenance an ecumenical platform restricted to tenets of the Nicene Creed, or to the definitions of the -first eight ecumenical councils. Were he alive today Newman would have no less harsh words for suggestions that would make “elective” all doctrines that owe their specific solemnity to papal acts, from the dogma of the Immaculate Conception to the dogma of the Assumption. But was not Newman’s holding high the idea of a despotic papacy a momentary stance of his provoked by Pusey’s importuning him with an issue that he had already answered in a book-length letter?”19
Such a possibility is difficult to reconcile with two factors: One is Newman’s extraordinary respect for Pusey and his awareness that with Pusey all his words would count heavily. If there was anyone on earth it was Pusey whom Newman would not have wished to alienate with rash words. Nor should one overlook the various shades of meaning applicable to the word “despotic.” Newman, whose phraseology owed much to biblical and Patristic Greek, was hardly unaware of the title “despotes” given in the Greek Testament to God and to Jesus Christ.20 though hardly in a sense evocative of a Darius or Ramses II. Yet without envisioning a pope a la Ghenghiz Khan, Barbarossa, or Henry VIII, Newman certainly meant by “despotic” a sovereign whose decision could overrule any majority, real or apparent.
falling back upon their own resources and their own connections, making their house their castle, and refusing any longer to be dependent on a distant center, or to regulate their internal affairs by a foreign tribunal.28
As always, here too the present was for Newman prefigured in the past. In the next breath he described the breaking away of Oriental Churches with its moral anticipated by Saint Paul’s “There must be heresies …,” and added:
“A command is both the occasion of transgression, and the test of obedience. All depends on the fact of the Supremacy of Rome.”29
It was that unbending Newman, so triumphalistically “unecumenical” as one would say today, who celebrated the unity of Catholics as having reached in 1850 a degree unparalleled beforehand: “The Church lives, the Apostolic See rules. That See has greater acknowledgment than ever before, and that Church has a wider liberty than she has had since the days of the Apostles. The faith is extending in the great Anglo-Saxon race, its recent enemy, the lord of the world, with a steadiness and energy, which that proud people fears, yet cannot resist. “30 The provenance of these quotes from the last three lectures of the twelve forming the Difficulties, indicates both their ascending thrust and gives a clue to an earlier statement of Newman there. It is about the presence of “the thousand subordinate authorities round that venerable Chair where sits the plenitude of Apostolic power,” either “planted by that Chair” or issued from it. “Hence, when she would act, the blow is broken, and concussion avoided, by the innumerable springs, if I may use the word, on which the celestial machinery is hung.”31
The point of this passage, the context of which is not about dogma or morals, but about the confrontation between two jurisdictions, ecclesiastic and political, was a favorite with Newman. He loved to recall that only a real power, utterly sure of itself, can afford the luxury of softening its “blows,” be it with built-in shock absorbers, to wax a bit modern. He made that point in the Apologia: “Zosimus treated Pelagius and Coelestius with extreme forbearance, St. Gregory was equally indulgent with Berengarius; by reason of the very power of the Popes they have commonly been slow and moderate in their use of it.”32 But a power it was and of gigantic proportions. It was “as tremendous as the giant evil which has called for it.”33 Consequently, Newman once more felt entitled to cast “infallibility” into its harsh “despotic” light:
The initial doctrine of the infallible teacher must be an emphatic protest against the existing state of mankind. Man had rebelled against his Maker. It was this that caused the divine interposition: and the first act of the divinely accredited messenger must be to proclaim it. The Church must denounce rebellion as of all possible evils the greatest. She must have no terms with it; if she would be true to her Master, she must ban and anathematize it.”34
Of course, Newman meant by rebellion the one constituted by sin, especially by the sin of pride. And he quoted three of those texts from his Difficulties of Anglicans for which he had been particularly pilloried by mainstream Christians, to allow for another modernity. One was about the Catholic Church that holds the willful committing of a mere venial sin to be a far greater catastrophe than the starvation of millions.35The other was the incomparably greater value of a “filthy beggar-woman, though chaste, sober, cheerful, and religious,” than “an accomplished statesman, or lawyer … however upright, generous, honourable and conscientious,” but without the grace of God in his heart.36The third was, in the same breath, a similarly unbending estimate about the relatively small matter of a lie in comparison with a lustful thought, for the latter was tantamount in Christ’s judgment to plain adultery.
Were he alive today, he would undoubtedly give unbending support to Humanae vitae and warn about the potential pitfalls in the latter-day Catholic rush to the Bible. For, according to him, only an infallibility embodied in a concrete person can do what the Bible cannot: “It cannot make a stand against the wild living intellect of man, and in this day it begins to testify, as regards its own structure and contents, to the power of that universal solvent, which is so successfully acting upon religious establishments.”37 His would be a prophecy fulfilled in this age of born-again Christians that only a living infallible organ can make specific truths out of the divine command, “You must be born again,” as rephrased by him: “Your whole nature must be reborn, your passions, and your affections, and your aims, and your conscience, and your will, must all be bathed in a new element, and reconsecrated to your Maker, and, the last not the least, your intellect.”38
Such a despotically unbending contrast between the spirit of the world and the infallible organ that alone can effectively counter it, was not only conceptually identical with the one Newman set forth in his letter to Pusey, but almost coincided with it. Both the Apologia and that letter mark the mid-1860s, when Newman and many others suddenly became preoccupied with rumors about a coming Council and with the rapid rise of voices demanding a solemn declaration of papal infallibility by that Council.
As is well known Newman repeatedly declined invitations (from the English hierarchy, from the famed bishop Dupanloup of Orleans, and even from Pius IX) to be a theologian at the Council. No less resolutely did he resist promptings to join with publications in the increasingly heated debates between infallibilists and those favoring the status quo. Only his private correspondence reveals the extent to which he loathed and dreaded the prospect of a definition of papal infallibility. His letters written between January 1, 1868 and December 187339 contain many times his emphatic assertion that he had always held that doctrine, though he did not rate it higher than a theological opinion with which one could honestly disagree. He also insisted that there was no need for definition, a point of utmost importance, as in his view the development of dogma always had for its motive force urgently felt needs. Only in one letter did he acknowledge one such need which, typically enough, evoked a Church that needed to act despotically: “In the present state of the world,” he wrote on August 29, 1869, “the Catholic body may require to be like an army in the field, under strict and immediate discipline. “40 But he added that he saw “more reasons for wishing it [the definition] may not be laid down by the Council, than for wishing it should be.” The opposing reasons, of which more later, must have been extremely grave in his eyes because he never made a secret of the gravity of the threat posed to Christianity and Church by agnosticism, liberalism, rationalism, responsible for “the state of the world.”
On almost all occasions when he took up the subject with his correspondents in those years he spoke scathingly about the unscrupulous faction that pushed for the definition and hinted at the divine judgment in store for them.41 In fact he saw God’s punishment for the definition both in the violent thunderstorm that engulfed St. Peter’s on the day of the definition 42 and in the loss of the Pope’s temporal power.43 Most revealingly, he felt confident even as late as June 28, 1870, that there would be no definition.44 After it had passed he tried to withhold consent as long as he could. First he thought that the departure of a hundred or so bishops from the Council just before the definition cast doubt on the moral consensus needed for its validity.45 Then, on seeing that the minority did not organize, he anchored his hope on the planned reopening of the Council in October.46 When this failed to come about, he seized on the advanced age of Pius IX. 47 A new pope may balance things, for according to Newman the exact meaning of ex cathedra was still to be defined.48 Even with a great master of logic, the danger of hair splitting was not necessarily too far removed.
Yet in all this perplexity, intellectual and emotional, Newman had several considerations to fall back on. One was an unconditioned trust in the divine guidance accorded to, the church. This he never failed to impress on his correspondents troubled with the infallibility question, both before and after the Council. Another was the overriding role of loyalty. Or as he concluded his letter of Year-end to Archbishop Darboy of Paris: “If by some fiction those who love me will have it that I am a teacher of the faithful, I am above all a disciple of the Church, doctor fidelium discipulus ecclesiae.49
Still another was his recall, after the definition, that his acceptance of papal infallibility was in part anchored in history, namely in the magisterial, authoritative acting of not a few and even early popes: “The fact,” he wrote on July 27, 1870, “that all along for so many centuries, the head of the Church and the teacher of the faithful and the Vicar of Christ has been allowed by God to assert virtually his infallibility, is a great argument in favour of the validity of his claim. “‘o On August 15 he referred to the “self assertion, the ipse dixit of the Popes for 1800 years,” as “a great and inspiring argument for the validity of their claims.”51 The next March in writing to Mrs. Froude, widow of a closest friend from Tractarian days, he offered the same in even more graphic words, almost synonymous with “despotic.” There a recall of Pope Stephen’s rebuke of St. Cyprian, who rejected the validity of baptisms administered by the lapsi, served Newman to present two points: One is the stage in which a doctrine, still “obscurely held,” transpires through action; the other is the attributes of the actions through which alone could papal infallibility transpire:
The Popes acted as if they were infallible in doctrine – with very high hand, peremptorily, magisterially, fiercely. But when we come to the question of the analysis of such conduct, I think they had as vague ideas on the subject as many of the early Fathers had upon portions of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. They acted in a way which needed infallibility as its explanation.52
Toward the end of that year he again stated that the infallibility of the Popes had always been transparent through their conduct.53 By then he had acknowledged a new aspect of the expediency of the definition. It was to prevent the reappearance of Gallicanism and Jansenism, and to forestall the resurgence of the Branch-theory.54
All this reveals both a most generous measure of sincerity with his correspondents, a sincerity coupled with an indifference to possible indiscretion on their part. It also reveals some illogicality in a mind acclaimed as well as feared for its prowess in logic. The latter problem is made more acute by Newman’s own comments on two theological roads to infallibility. One he explicitly labelled “logical,” the other may not improperly be called “phenomenological.” The two were described succinctly in the last paragraph of his letter of May 8, 1869. The logical way consisted in focusing on the role which Rome exclusively had in turning the Christian communities into a real communion: “Union with Rome is the logical differentia in the Church.” The role was equivalent to the proposition that “Rome is the center of unity,” a proposition which Newman “believed as a doctrine, taught by the Church, and indispensable.” Yet though he recognized the intimate connection between the “See of Rome as the center of unity” and the infallibility of that See, he held only the former to be believed as a doctrine taught by the Church. The latter he would believe as a doctrine only “if the Church so determined, and I believe a General Council is to be her Voice in determining – and I don’t believe at all that a General Council can decree anything which the Divine Head of the Church does not will to be decreed.”55 On December 15th he informed another correspondent that he held the Pope’s infallibility on the basis of general consensus “as having the suffrages of most people in this day,” but that he “cannot defend it in a set argument” and that he never would use it as the instrument of bringing inquirers into the church.”56
Clearly, the “logical” road was not logical enough for a great logician, although the general consensus held it precisely because of its logicality. In a letter written the next day he conveyed his view of the illogicality of that “logical” way by equating it with the procedure of building a church – St. Peter’s in Rome, to wit – from top down. First he registered his satisfaction that many congregationalists and Wesleyans were fond of reading his books, whatever their repudiation of his dogmatic doctrines. He took their interest for an evidence that he was
contributing to lay the foundation of principles which may tend as a first step to bring towards Catholic Truth the various separated communions of this country. To begin with the doctrine of the Pope is to begin to build St. Peter’s from the cross and ball. We must begin from the bottom-not even only from the foundations of the building, but from the soil in which the foundations must be placed – If I succeed merely in this, to contribute to the creation of a sound material on which the stone work of the edifice of faith is to be placed, I shall think myself highly blest, and to have done as much as I can wish to do.57
Of course, Newman was right about the soil or the broader mental disposition conditioning one’s assent to a given proposition. (He was just completing his Grammar of Assent on which he had been working for the previous ten years. It was partly for fear that it would never be completed that he had declined the invitation to participate in Vatican I. Another reason was the pressing task of putting his vast correspondence in order, a concern for which he deserves the gratitude of all posterity, Christian and other). But as a logician he should have perceived that it was one thing to be concerned about the subjective soil that was to receive the stone edifice of faith, another to see the difference between foundation and edifice, and still another to set forth the logic whereby the entire characteristic and solidity of a structure is determined by the very character of its foundation stone, especially if it is a single individual rock! Newman’s speaking in his Difficulties of Anglicans about “foundations falling in” may now reveal its broader significance. Was it not a subconscious failure of his to distinguish between foundation and edifice that made him speak of what is hardly possible for a foundation, namely, its “falling in,” which only walls and roofs can do, and certainly not a rock foundation. Did he suspect that a rock can at best disintegrate or pulverize but not fall in? Was he so enthralled by the spread of exquisite archways, facades, and spires in Oxford as to never think of their foundations, enveloped in dark, cold mildew, and seen, if ever, by servants alone?
A better clue to this multiple oversight on Newman’s part is provided by his sincerity. By insisting that it was not the “logical” but the “phenomenological” way that brought him into the Church, he amply revealed the predominance of the visual or imaginative component in his thinking over the logical. Only a very high esteem of his logical powers will reveal the overriding power of the imaginative factor. To be sure, that factor was not an addiction to fancy. But his logic was at its best whenever it could work within an image or a vision grasped intuitively. Once possessed by that image, be it that of an “empire” church established by God to spread concrete holiness all over the world, his logical powers could unfold with ease and penetration countless connections and nuances. But the imaginative intuition always had the most satisfactory last word for him. A stunning case of this is provided in that letter in which, as already noted, he admitted one expedient reason on behalf of the declaration of infallibility. Its last paragraph deserves to be quoted in full:
Now the very reason I became a Catholic was because the present Roman Catholic Church is the only church which is like, and it is very like, the primitive Church, the Church of St. Athanasius . . . It is almost like a photograph of the primitive Church; or at least it does not differ from the primitive Church nearly so much as the photograph of a man of 40 differs from his photograph when 20. You know that it is the same man.58
An uncanny self-portrait, too, it was about Newman the MAN writ large who was, however, but a man with limited talents and perceptions, however extraordinary. To begin with, he was an Oxford man who saw the world through Oxford. One wonders whether he would have loathed the prospect of the definition of infallibility had it not made even more hopeless the setting up of a Catholic house of studies in Oxford. It was that work which he wanted more than anything else, a work as he put it, best suited to his abilities, and exactly the work that was denied to him by Rome acting under the advice of some in the English hierarchy.59 He must have foreseen for years what he spelled out in a letter to J. Spencer Northcote on April 7, 1872. On the one hand, he saw Oxford and the Anglican church increasingly becoming “a whirlpool of disbelief.” On the other hand he took the view that since “the infallibility of the Pope has simply thrown down the gauntlet to the science and the historical research of the day,” any official Catholic presence in Oxford was bound to be involved “in a mortal fight.” Worse, any Catholic scholar there, forced to defend _historically the Pope’s infallibility, was bound to make inevitable mistakes “on the stage of a great theatre.” But would the intellectual chances of Catholics in Oxford have really been so much better had they had to account only for what happened at Trent three hundred years earlier? Were they really so much unprepared as if they were “newborn children,” so many offspring of a new Council? Was not Newman taking Oxford for the world? A study in depth not so much of Newman at Oxford as of Newman the Oxonian may unfold more than meets the eye.
At any rate there can be little doubt about the immense usefulness of his reference to the similarity of two photographs of a man taken twenty years apart, for understanding Newman’s attitude toward papal infallibility. No expertise in conceptual graphology is needed to discover the identity of the author of the great Letter explaining infallibility to the Duke of Norfolk, written at 75, of which more later, with that of the Development written at 45, or even with that of some of the Parochial sermons on the church delivered ten years earlier. They all bespeak of the same man seized by the vision of a visible church spread all over the world. It was the magnificent spectacle of a visible edifice, vast in space and keeping its essential features across time, that brought Newman to the church and kept him in it. The spectacle was magnificent in the ultimate analysis because it represented God’s plan and will which one could either reject or obey. This was the consideration that overruled in him all doubts and objections that would look oppressively large two days before the solemn definition of infallibility on July 18, 1879. The oppressiveness was given an added touch through a letter he received on July 17, in which a well-known convert to Catholicism informed Newman about his having left the church on account of infallibility and who expected Newman to follow suit. To his correspondent’s taunting question “Have you found what you hoped and longed for?”, Newman had the following answer:
That depends on what I`hoped and longed for’. I did not hope or long for any thing except to do God’s will, which I feared not to do. I did not leave the Anglican church, as you think, for any scandals in it. You have mistaken your man. My reason was as follows: I knew it was necessary, if I would participate in the grace of Christ, to seek it there where He had lodged it. I believed that that grace was to be found in the Roman communion only, not in the Anglican. Therefore I became a Catholic. This was my belief in 1845, and still more strongly my belief now, because in 1845 I had not that utter distrust of the Anglican Orders which I feel in 1870.60
The metaphor of lodging should seem of utter importance, especially since it stood for a structure as universal or Catholic as befitted the God of the universe. Its persuasiveness is attested by countless converts that found Newman’s “phenomenological” road into the Catholic Church eminently convincing.” The shortcomings of that road received less attention, though they were no less positively instructive. They illustrate the fact that only a firm, sincere adhesion to a universal or Catholic Church that teaches no less universally can keep a great Christian thinker from falling into the ever gaping pitfalls provided by his background and intellectual predilections, however noble. In its elemental simplicity that Church was the organism from which one could not separate oneself under any circumstance without courting spiritual disaster. Newman said so to none other than the Carmelite Hyacinthe Loyson, a most influential preacher, who left the Church on account of the definition of infallibility, without wanting to become a Protestant. In writing to him that “nothing which has taken place justifies our separation from the One Church,”62 Newman simply voiced, half consciously or not, an immortal phrase of Augustine of Hippo.63 Newman may have heard before he died that the “Eglise Catholique Gallicane,” which Mr. Loyson set up in Paris, degenerated into a cult of his wife, hardly a minor disaster.64
But to return to the particular pitfalls and in particular to their kind connected with one’s intellectual predilections. The latter, insofar as they were bearing on the infallibility problem, continually posed a mental block to Newman in those crucial years. In his letters he kept returning to the “securus judicat orbis terrarum” as the great test of theological truth.65 The pattern certainly shows the extraordinary and lasting impact which that text began to make on him a few months after he was confronted with it in Wiseman’s memorable article published in 1839.66 He resonated to it all the more because it appealed to his visual grasp of a picturesque reality, natural or supernatural. But a grasp it was also in the sense that it blocked his vision in other no less crucial directions. He was never seized, for instance, by the image of that Rock into which Christ turned Peter as the foundation of His church.67 Nor was Newman ever impressed by the visual imagery of the Keys of the Kingdom entrusted to Peter.68
For this a great deal of blame may lie with the Anglican and Protestant sublimation of those two hard and concrete things into a “faith” of which invariably the subjective side was played up against the objective tenets in which one was to believe. It took Newman many years to purge his thinking of the Protestant notion of an Antichrist associated with the Romish Church in general and with the Papacy in particular. He was less successful with respect to the re-concretization of Rock and Keys. His view in the Development of the great Petrine texts as “more or less obscure” anticipations of the papal claims69 remained unchanged for the rest of his life. He was not struck by the authentic interpretation of those passages in Aeterni Patris (the Vatican I document on papal infallibility) as something that should have called for an explanatory note in the new edition (1878) of the Development which contained, in his own words, “important alterations” in its text too,70 to say nothing of its notes.
That he was not struck by that definition either should seem most baffling, indeed. He rather added to his often quoted dictum from his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk that “the Vatican Council left him [the Pope] just as it found him,”71 variants such as “very little was passed,” “very little was added,” “nothing of consequence was passed,” “as little as possible was passed.”72 He took some time before he indirectly tried to reconcile these brave statements of his with the crucial words ex sese and non ex consensu ecclesiae in the definition that frightened him when he learned about their presence in the draft eight months before they became the essence of the definition. In his letter of November 21, 1869, he described those words as “an alteration in the fundamental dogma,” and a “throwing away one of the human means (the pope acting with the bishops) by which God directs him.” The infallibility of the pope’s own words “made the system more miraculous,” something like seeking a bodily cure by miracle when human means are at hand.”73 His first discussion of ex sese postdates the definition by a year and a half and it is almost a soft-pedaling of the issue, if not a dust cloud of a logician’s specious distinctions. After pointing out that even the Gallicans had admitted the infallibility of the pope’s solemn utterance “if the Bishops did no more than keep silence,” he added that “all that is passed last year, is that in some sense he may speak per se, and his speech may be infallible – I say some sense, because a bishop who voted for the dogma tells me that at the time an explanation was given that in one sense the pope spoke per se, and in another sense not per se.”74
History was to show that Newman underestimated the change in its importance as well as the need for it. The proof of this is the sudden resurgence of Gallicanism in the guise of the bishops’ collegiality as soon as John XXIII made his intention known to call a council. This is not to say that the majority of bishops wanted a collegiality on whose approval or consensus would have depended the truth of the infallibility of the pope’s solemn utterance. But a very influential group of theologians, aided and abetted by several bishops, used all ruse and equivocation to secure on collegiality in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) a wording that would lend itself to studied ambiguity. It was through that strategy that they wanted to claim after the Council that collegiality meant, first, episcopal democracy, ruled by a majority vote, an easily manipulable commodity; then, a presbyteral-lay democracy, a commodity even more prone to manipulation through artfully contrived opinion polls. The strategy is now widely known75 together with its sudden failure as if God had miraculously foiled the devil by letting him slip unmiraculously on the trivial instrumentality of a letter, a thing potentially more slippery than a banana peel. A private note containing that strategy became, by being entrusted to a confidential friend, a sure means of quickly disclosing a secret to be most carefully kept.
The disclosure was nothing short of a shock treatment for Paul VI whose awe for theological commissions exceeded even that of a typical professional theologian which he was not. He suddenly realized that he had been deceived in his defense of a pivotal theological commission, in spite of highest-level warnings. He broke down in tears, but had not much time for weeping and lamenting. The final voting on collegiality was only three days away. The Council could easily be thrown into a turmoil by withdrawing a text repeatedly discussed, amended, and approved. Paul VI chose as a way out of the dilemma a direct message to the Council Fathers. In that message he notified all of them about the only meaning which they were allowed to attribute to the subtly ambiguous text on collegiality.76 The meaning was that of the infallibility of the pope ex sese and non ex consensu ecclesiae, that is, not through the consent of bishops, and certainly not through the consent of periti, of priests, and of the public.
The papal letter containing that message was to be placed at the head of modi (official interpretations) of the text on collegiality in Lumen Gentium.77 This directive was honored in the breech by most translators and editors of Lumen Gentium in particular and of the documents of Vatican II in general to the point of not being printed at all.78 Behind such a strategy, in direct contravention of an explicit papal order, there must have been a very strong resolve. Collegialist-ecumenists were resolved to keep out of focus the papal letter’s vision of “despotic papacy” without openly condemning that letter to the theological wastebasket. In the “ecumenism” of that move Newman would have certainly recognized the one offered to him by Pusey as being equivalent to an invitation for Catholics “to commit suicide.” He perceived essential identity between ecclesial phenomena separated by much more than a mere hundred years.
After that it would be the turn of his keenness on sincerity. The sharp adjectives – unscrupulous, wilful, intolerant – he had applied to the “infallibilists,” would now have for their target the “collegialists” and especially those among them who used him for a foil. It was behind that foil that they sowed everywhere in the supernaturally monarchical Church the most un-Newmanian seeds of theological “democratism” and “liberalism.” With his mind so attentive to probabilities, especially to their antecedent kind, he would have found antecedently impossible not to see a pattern in the four Letters to the Editor of The New York Times, in its September 14, 1986 issue. All four letters were on the Vatican’s declaration that Charles A. Curran was no longer a “Roman Catholic” theologian and therefore had no right to teach theology at the Catholic University of America, a Pontifical University. Each of the authors of the two letters that criticized the papal decision invoked Newman. One of them wrote: “Cardinal Newman once noted how silly the Church would look without the laity. Soon we may see how silly some Catholic universities look without faculty, students, or academic freedom.”79
Such reference to Newman perfectly suited those ignorant of his ringing declaration that “the essence of religion is to protect from error”81 and of his most considered dicta on laity an university in their relation to the See of Peter. In the first of his lectures delivered before faculty and students of the incipient Catholic University in Dublin, he based his call for a wholehearted support of a project in which “the possible and the expedient” seemed to be wide apart, with the uncompromising statement:
It is the decision of the Holy See; St. Peter has spoken, it is he who enjoined that which seems to us so unpromising. He has spoken, and has a claim on us to trust him … If ever there was a power on earth who had an eye for the times … such is he in the history of ages, who sits from generation to generation in the Chair of the Apostles, as the Vicar of Christ, and the doctor of His Church. These are not the words of rhetoric, Gentlemen, but of history. All who take part with the Apostle, are on the winning side … The past never returns; the course of events, old in texture, is ever new in its colouring and fashion. England and Ireland and the United States, one should add are not what they once were, but Rome is where it was, and St. Peter is the same.81
As for the new-fangled “infallible” role of laity in the Church, spread with a reference to his famous articles on the laymen’s role in the Church,82 his correspondence from those stormy years around “infallibility” contains his briefest and most authentic specification of what he exactly meant: Only two weeks after the definition of infallibility he referred in a letter to the consensus of the Universal Church (the securus judicat orbis terrarum) “as the ultimate guarantee of revealed truth,” but hastened to add that “according to my recollection, my paper in the Rambler is not in point. I think the paper was on the sensus, not the consensus fidelium – their voice was considered as a witness, not as an authority or a judgment. I compared consulting it to consulting a barometer for a fact. Thus it was a fact that the fideles in Arian times were for our Lord’s divinity against their bishops, but in the Article, I think, I expressly reserved the ‘magisterium’ for the authorities of the Church.” It was only that magisterium which could claim the phrase, securus judicat, with the latter word underlined by Newman himself.83
Of course, he would easily notice that behind the new-fangled boosting of laity there lurks the glorification of private judgment, the source of all evil in his eyes. He would have no patience with that judgment even when presented as the sacredness of conscience. Nothing was more sacred to him than that inner voice about morally good and morally evil which, in his most considered judgment, was the most direct evidence of God. But he had no use for the culturally sanctioned meaning of conscience which he branded publicly as a “miserable counterfeit” in his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, explaining to all Englishmen the meaning of papal infallibility. There he described that counterfeit conscience as:
the right of thinking, speaking, writing, and acting, according to their judgment or their humour, without any thought of God at all. They do not even pretend to go by any moral rule, but they demand, what they think is an Englishman’s prerogative, to be his own master in all things, and to profess what he pleases, asking no one’s leave, and accounting priest or preacher, speaker or writer, unutterably impertinent, who dares to say a word against his going to perdition, if he like it, in his own way. Conscience has rights because it has duties; but in this age, with a large portion of the public, it is the very right and freedom of conscience to dispense with conscience, to ignore a Lawgiver and Judge, to be independent of unseen obligations. It becomes a license to take up any or no religion, to take up this or that and let it go again, to go to Church, to go to chapel, to boast of being above all religions and to be impartial critic of each of them. Conscience is a stern monitor, but in this century it has been superseded by a counterfeit, which the eighteen centuries prior to it never heard of, and could not have mistaken for it, if they had. It is the right of self-will.84
He had respect only for a conscience which was the very opposite to a “longsided selfishness” and “to a desire to be consistent with oneself.” True conscience was rather
a messenger from Him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by His representatives. Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ, a prophet in its informations, a monarch in its peremptoriness, a priest in its blessings and anathemas, and, even though the eternal priesthood throughout the Church could cease to be, in it the sacerdotal principle would remain and would have a sway.85
Could there be a real conflict between such a conscience and the infallible Pope? Newman’s answer to that question is pivoted on Aquinas’ dictum that conscience “is the practical judgment or dictate of reason, by which we judge what hic et nunc is to be done as being good, or to be avoided as evil. Introductory to that quote was Newman’s declaration that conscience was “not a judgment upon speculative truth, any abstract doctrine, but bears immediately upon conduct, on something to be done or not done.” His sequel to Aquinas’ dictum was “Hence conscience cannot come into direct collision with the Church’s or the Pope’s infallibility; which is engaged only on general propositions, or the condemnation of propositions simply particular.”86
What was to be done, according to Newman, when in a particular instance the sacred or second kind of conscience approved by him urged one to go against a papal ordinance? First, one was to apply one’s self to prayer and study in a most serious and conscientious way. Second, one was to realize that the onus probandi, a very difficult burden, weighs in all such cases on the individual conscience. Third, one had to be conscious of one’s duty to give all the benefit of doubt to the Pope and to act as much as possible in the spirit of loyalty one owes to him. Last but not least, one was to purge oneself of the spirit of disobedience in all its disguises:
He must vanquish that mean, ungenerous, selfish, vulgar spirit of his nature which, at the very first rumor of a command, places itself in opposition to the Superior who gives it, asks itself whether he is not exceeding his right, and rejoices, in a moral and practical matter, to commence with scepticism. He must have no wilful determination to exercise a right of thinking, saying, doing just what he pleases, the question of truth and falsehood, right and wrong, the duty if possible of obedience, the love of speaking as his Head speaks, and of standing in all cases on his Head’s side, being simply discarded.
Such was Newman’s “necessary rule” for the problem and he felt that if it were observed “collision between the Pope’s authority and the authority of conscience would indeed be very rare.87
The applicability of that “necessary rule” to one’s attitude toward, say, the rule laid down in Humanae vitae, should be all too clear: Since that rule is a precept of general validity, Newman would necessarily call for un conditional acceptance of it. To try to distill another directive from Newman’s utterances on papacy, Church, and conscience, taken either from his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk or from his letters and publications postdating it, 88 is to attack Newman’s logic and the logic of the papacy by one and the same stroke. The chief proof of this was provided by Newman himself and two years after he published that Letter. In the long preface he wrote to the third or Catholic edition of the Via Media, he emphatically stated that what he had written there as an Anglican about the Church as a Mystical Body should in no way diminish the validity of the imperial notion of the Church as pivoted on a ruling papacy:
I will but say in passing, that I must not in this argument be supposed to forget that the Pope, as the Vicar of Christ, inherits these offices and acts
for the Church in them … Christianity, then, is at once a philosophy, a political power, and a religious rite: as a religion, it is Holy; as a philosophy, it is Apostolic; as a political power, it is imperial, that is, One and Catholic. As a religion, its special centre of actions is pastor and flock; as a philosophy, the Schools; as a rule, the Papacy and its Curia (Italics added).89
That to the very end of his days the logic of the papacy included for Newman even the pope’s Curia may be a bitter pill for many latter-day Newmanists to swallow, but it is the only logic which is truly Newmanian.
1 Apologia pro vita sua, ed. David J. DeLaura (New York: W. W. Norton, 1968), p. 136. All subsequent references to the Apologia are to this critical edition.
2Whately, whose Elements of Logic became a bestseller after its publication in 1826 and eventually made an impact on such pioneers of mathematical logic as Boole and De Morgan, bestowed his highest praise on Newman when he spoke of him as the clearest mind he knew. Newman closely assisted Whately in giving the final form of the latter’s articles on logic for the Encyclopedia Metropolitana which later appeared as the Elements. See Meriol Trevor, Newman (~ondon: Macmillan, 1962), vol. 1, p. 48.
3Quoted ibid., vol. 2, p. 344.
4Quoted ibid., vol. 2, p. 555.
5W.E. Gladstone, Vaticanism: An Answer to Reproofs and Replies (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1875), p. 12.
6G.B. Smith, The Life of the Right Honorable William Ewart Gladstone (New York: G.P. Putnam, 1880, p. 499.
7Carefully analyzed in ch. vii, “The Imperial Image of the Church,” in Papacy and Development: Newman and the Primacy of the Pope by P. Misner (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1976).
8See the opening section of Newman’s sermon “Sanctity the Token of the Christian Empire,” a sermon preceded by “The Christian Church an Imperial Power,” in Sermons bearing on Subjects of the Day (new ed.; London: Rivington, 1869), pp. 237-38.
9Even as far as from Sicily Newman wanted to know about the implementation of “the atrocious Irish sacrilege Bill.” See Trevor, Newman, vol. 1, p. 120.
10R.H. Hutton, Cardinal Newman (1891; new ed.; London: Methuen, 1905), pp. 208-09 and 211. The quotation is from the fifth lecture on Anglican Difficulties.
11 D. Culler, The Imperial Intellect: A Study of Cardinal Newman’s Educational Ideal, (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1955).
12See Trevor, Newman, vol. 1, p. 600.
13See W. Ward, The Life of John Henry Cardinal Newman (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1912), vol. 2, pp. 476-77.
14Ibid., vol. 2, p. 211.
15Quoted in Ward, The Life of John Henry Cardinal Newman, vol. 2, pp. 222-23.
16Ibid., p. 221.
17Ibid., p. 223.
19A positive answer to this question is implied in Misner’s characterization of Newman’s characterization of papal jurisdiction with the words “unlimited and despotic” as something that “cannot be pressed … because Newman was exasperated at Pusey and his unrealistic hopes for corporate reunion at the time.” Papacy and Development, p. 137.
20See despotes in Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.
21An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (new ed.; London: Basil Montagu Pickering, 1878), p. 154.
22Ibid., p. 155.
23lbid., p. 79, where Newman admits that the revelation of truth and its guaranteeing may often be distinct in fact, but that this distinction of fact does not apply in the case of Christianity which comes to us “as a revelation, as a whole, objectively, and with a profession of infallibility.”
24 Ibid., p. 322.
25Ibid., p. 442.
26Ibid., p. 86. The Sea of Peter, Newman continues, “is not in all cases infallible, it may err beyond its special province, but it has in all cases a claim on our obedience.”
27Certain Difficulties felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1891), vol. 1, p. 377.
28 Ibid., pp. 348-49.
29 Ibid., p. 349.
30Ibid., p. 328.
31Ibid., p. 180.
32 Apologia, p. 205.
331bid., p. 192.
34 Ibid., p. 190.
361bid., p. 191.
37Ibid., p. 188.
38Ibid., p. 191.
39They are included in volumes XXIV, XXV, and XXVI of The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973-74). All these three volumes had Charles S. Dessain and Thomas Gornall for editors. Each of these volumes will be referred to as Letters.
40Letters, vol. 24, p. 325.
41Letters, vol. 25, p. 205, “A heavy retribution still may await the perpetrators of
the act.” (14 Sept 1870).
42Letters, vol. 25, p. 262.
43Letters, vol. 25, p. 245. “The definition of July involved the dethronement of September” (12 Dec 1870).
44Letters, vol. 25, p. 153. “I will not believe that this definition about Papal Infallibility is passed, till it actually is passed.”
45Letters, vol. 25, p. 167. He contrasted “the mere majority” to “moral unanimity” in the same letter (July 27, 1870 to Ambrose St. John). His hesitation was, however, balanced with a reference to the great historical argument derived from the authoritative actions of the popes.
46Letters, vol. 25, p. 171 (August 3). Furthermore he told his correspondent (F. Rymer) that the plans for October should be kept secret: “We must take care not to tell our opponents what we want and what we don’t.”
47In writing on November 7, 1870 to the parents of a boy in the Oratory school in Edgebaston that the boy’s problem would be better treated at home during the next year’s summer vacation beginning June 17th, he suddenly switched his train of thought, in indication of what was his dominant concern: “Although that day was still a great way off, if the common belief is true, the Pope will not live till that day.” By then Newman had met his moment of truth when an Anglican reminded him that “at least you Catholics are as much divided in opinion as we Anglicans – you are divided in questions of faith. We thought certainty your special boast.” In reporting this on November 1 to Bishop Moriarty of Kerry, Newman confessed: “On this I assure you I feel quite ashamed, and know not what to say” (Letters, vol. 25, p. 223). Apparently Newman had no second thoughts on the theological wisdom of trying to restore the theological status quo at almost any price.
48Letters, vol. 25, p. 224. One wonders whether this helped the perplexity of Lady Simeon, the recipient of the letter. Clearly, Newman meant what he wrote on June 28, 1870: “It seems to me a duty, out of devotion to the Pope and charity to the souls of men, to resist it, while resistance is possible” (Letters, vol. 25, p. 153).
49 Letters, vol. 25, p. 259.
50 Letters, vol. 25, p. 168.
51Ibid., p. 186.
52Ibid., p. 299.
53Ibid., p. 447.
54Ibid., p. 259. This too was part of his letter to Archbishop Darboy. There Newman characterized the Branch theory as the means “by which the Catholicminded members of a Protestant church claim the blessings of Catholicism.”
55Letters, vol. 24, p. 253. The recipient of this important letter was Sir John Simeon, one of the only two Roman Catholic MPs at that time.
56 Ibid., p. 390.
57Ibid., p. 391.
58 Ibid., p. 325. See note 40 above.
59 “The only one [place or office] I am fit for, the only one I would accept, a place at Oxford, he [Manning] is doing all he can to keep me from,” wrote Newman on Jan.
3, 1866; see Ward, The Life of John Henry Cardinal Newman, vol. 2, p. 124.
60Letters, vol. 26, p. 59.
61Letters, vol. 25, p. 160. The convert in question was Edward Husband. 62 Letters, vol. 25, p. 235.
63“Non esse quidquam gravius sacrilegio schismatis, quia praecidendae unitatis nulla est justa necessitas” (There is nothing more serious than the sacrilege of schism because there is no just cause for severing the unity of the Church), Contra epist. Parmeniani, lib. II, ch. 11, in Migne Patrologia Latina, vol. 43, col. 69.
64 See Index of names under Loyson in Letters, vol. 24, p. 419.
65 For instance in Letters, vol. 25, pp. 164, 172, 186, and 235.
66That on his first reading of Wiseman’s article Newman, according to his own reminiscences (see Apologia, p. 99), failed to see the crucial importance of that Augustinian phrase shows the extent to which even the keenest mind can be locked in the ~erspectives of its preferences.
67In view of Newman’s appreciation of visual imagery, he might very well have seized on the relevance for the interpretation of Mt 16:16 of the magnificent drawings of a huge wall of rock just outside Caesarea Philippi in Picturesque Palestine (4 vols.; London: Virtue & Co., 1880-84), had that work been available twenty or thirty years earlier. For further details and reproductions, see my And on This Rock: The Witness of One Land and Two Covenants (Notre Dame, In.: Ave Maria Press, 1978), pp. 32-34; 2nd enlarged edition.: Manassas, VA: Trinity Communications, 1987, pp. 30-33.
68Did Newman ever suspect that Christ’s words to Peter, “I give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven,” were conditioned by the fact that by then the huge unwieldy keys that had to be put on one’s shoulders (see Isaiah 22:19-25) had been replaced by small metal keys embodying all the “modernity” of keys in common usage in his time? For further details and illustrations see my The Keys of the Kingdom: A Tool’s Witness to Truth (Chicago, Ill.: Franciscan Herald Press, 1986).
69Development, p. 156.
70Ibid., p. viii.
71A Letter addressed to His Grace The Duke of Norfolk on Occasion of Mr. Gladstone’s Recent Expostulation (London: D.M. Pickering, 1875), p. 62.
72 Letters, vol. 25, pp. 216, 220, 224, 262 (letters written between October 20, 1870 and January 2, 1871).
73 Letters, vol. 24, p. 377.
74 Letters, vol. 25, p. 447.
75Largely through The Rhine Flows into the Tiber: A History of Vatican // (1967; Rockford, Ill.: Tan Books and Publishers, 1985), by Ralph W. Wiltgen; see especially pp. 230-33.
76According to the allowable meaning, the college of bishops was not the inheritor of the apostles’ power in that full sense in which the pope is and whereas that college can exercise its power only when convoked by the pope into an ecumenical council, the pope “as supreme pastor of the Church … can always exercise his authority as he chooses, as is demanded by his office itself.” See pp. 90-101 of English translation quoted in note 78 below.
77No mention is made of the fact that the interpretation to be prefixed to the modi of chapter 3 of Lumen Gentium was a message from “higher authority,” that is from the Pope himself, in Vatican Council II, The Conciliar and Post-Conciliar Documents, ed. A. Flannery (Collegeville, Minn.: The Liturgical Press, 1975), pp. 432-34. Its printing in The Documents of Vatican II, ed. Walter M. Abbott S.J. (New York: Guild Press, 1966) is suggestive of a less than unreserved obedience. The admission (p. 99) that that Secretary of the Council made clear to the Council Fathers the provenance of the message from “higher authority” is “balanced” with an emphasis on the “great advances” made by Vatican II in the understanding of the importance of the episcopal office!
78Most sinistrous is the absence of that papal letter in the Study Club edition of The Constitution of the Church (Glen Rock, N.J.: Deus Books, Paulist Press, 1965), edited by E.H. Peters, which contains a foreword by the then Abbot (subsequently Bishop) Basil C. Butler, and a commentary by the then still Augustinian priest Gregory Baum. In a manner that goes straight counter to Newman’s keen awareness of chronic human weakness as the very reason for firm, authoritative, supreme guidance in the Church, Abbot Butler was dreaming in his foreword about a “presidency in charity of the See of Rome”, (p. 14), as if that See would henceforth be spared of rank abuses of its charity, to say nothing of its God-given authority. In his commentary Baum spoke of that letter as the fruit of the resistance of a “small minority of bishops and cardinals to the doctrine of collegiality almost till the end”. (p. 32) The silence of Baum, who was one of the ultraliberal periti at the Council, about the true story (of which he could hardly be unaware) behind that letter should seem nothing short of being deliberately tendencious.
79 The New York Times, Sept. 14, 1986, p. E24, cols. 5-6.
80 Letters, vol. 25, p. 259; from his letter to Archbishop Darboy, already quoted.
81The Idea of a University Defined and Illustrated (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1888), pp. 13 and 17-18.
82That article, “On Consulting the Faithful” (1859), has indeed become the Trojan horse in the hands of those who tried to cast Vatican II in a light that for Newman would have been the evidence of the presence of the Prince of Darkness. The only comfort he would now find, say, in the book, The Infallibility of the Laity: The Legacy ofNewman (New York: Herder and Herder, 1967) by S.D. Femiano is the admission in the Foreword by Gregory B~um that “the reinterpretation of the self-identical Gospel in a new cultural context” is “not the idea of a homogeneous development of the doctrines once defined” which “was Newman’s position” (p. xii). That this admission could be made unabashedly in 1967 shows the rapidity with which logic unfolds itself. It took only six years to reach that position of open defiance of Newman while making capital of his article, following its reprinting (on the very eve of Vatican II) in a book form (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1961) by J. Coulson with almost as long an introduction (49 pp) as the article itself. Coulson apparently failed to see that his balancing of Newman’s idea of the pope “as a ruler, not a philosopher” (p. 34) with a “deeper and more theological analysis” of the role of laity, could but invite a lop-sided glorification of those who are to be taught over the one who is to teach and in the very name of Christ.
83 Letters, vol. 25, p. 172. Aug. 3, 1870 to F. Rymer already quoted.
84 Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, p. 58.
85Ibid., p. 57.
86lbid., p. 62.
87Ibid., p. 64.
88 As done most emphatically by Misner in the last two chapters of his Papacy and Development.
89The Via Media or the Anglican Church (new ed. ; London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1896), vol. 1, p. xl. The first sentence in this quotation is left out in the middle of a passage quoted by Misner from the same page. Needless to say he did not quote (Papacy and Development, p. 181) the remainder of the quotation although with its words imperial and Curia it must have stared him in the eye!