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Newman Regrets the Syllabus

Wilfrid Ward, the author who wrote an extensive work on Newman's life based on his correspondence, was a clear partisan of his ideas. For this reason he always refers to Newman, Dupanloup, Lacordaire, Montalembert and other liberal Catholics as "moderate Catholics," and qualifies the ultramontanes who opposed them as "extremists."

We reproduce below - document 1 - an overview by Ward of the situation preceding the issuing of the Syllabus (December 8, 1864). In it it is interesting to note that Ward has to acknowledge that those "moderates" were known as liberal Catholics.

Regarding the Syllabus, Newman shared the same apprehensions of his liberal French coreligionists. Ward reproduces a letter by Newman (still document 1) in which this animadversion is clear. Newman uses every possible subterfuge to downplay the importance of the Syllabus and ends by expressing his great distaste for that document.

In document 2, we have a letter by Newman to his good friend Pusey, the Anglican who published a book against Catholic devotion to Our Lady and Papal Infallibility. In it Newman gives his opinion on the Syllabus. He repeats his previous sophisms - which History proved to be pointless - and concludes that those who think like him would have to "hold out" for about 10 years until the influence of the Syllabus subsided.

These documents are in The Life of John Henry Cardinal Newman by Wilfrid Ward, vol. II, pp. 79-81, 101.

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Posted on March 13, 2010

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