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Newman's Method to Promote Liberal Catholicism

We continue the analysis of Newman's adhesion to Liberal Catholicism. It is common knowledge that the three principal leaders of Liberal Catholicism in France were Fr. Felicité de Lamennais and his two disciples, Fr. Henri Lacordaire and Count Charles de Montalembert. In the first document below (pages 471-472, marked with an orange bar), Newman's biographer refers to his enthusiasm for Lacordaire and Montalembert.

In this document there is a remark about Newman's reservation regarding Sir John Acton and his friends, although it is clear that Newman approved their Liberalism.

The other excerpt from pages 474-475 describes this reservation in more detail. At the time, Newman was close to the Rambler, a review that boldly defended the more advanced theses of Liberal Catholicism. It was owned by John Moore Capes, sub-edited by Richard Simpson, and influenced by Lord John Acton. Newman had reservations about the radical method this group adopted.

The text below clearly points out that Newman wanted to disseminate Liberal Catholicism in a more moderate way that would convince Catholic public opinion, and not annoy or inflame it. We highlighted in yellow the phrase which affirms that Newman intended to promote the same Liberal ideas, but as camouflaged as possible.

So, to say that Newman differed in method from the Rambler team is a reality, but he shared the same theses and goals of Liberal Catholicism.

The source for these documents is the book The Life of John Henry Newman Based on His Private Journals and Correspondence (London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1912, 2 volumes). The author is Wilfrid Philip Ward, the son of a William George Ward, a close friend of Cardinal Newman.

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Posted on January 30, 2010

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