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Newman Against Papal Infallibility

Less than two months after the start of the First Vatican Council (December 8, 1869), Newman wrote to his Ordinary of Birmingham, Bishop William B. Ullathorne, expressing his opposition to defining papal infallibility as a dogma of Faith and describing it as a "great calamity."

Doing so, he identified himself, once again, with Catholic Liberalism, which combated that doctrine. At the Council the leaders of this current were Bishop Felix Dupanloup of Orleans, France, and Bishop Joseph G. Strossmayer of Dakovo, Croatia. Newman and Dupanloup were correspondents and mutual admirers.

Newman's letter, supposedly private, was soon published by the Standard newspaper. How it reached the paper remains unknown, but its publication fulfilled Newman's wishes expressed in its first and last paragraphs.

Below, we reproduce a photocopy of Newman's letter to Bishop Ullathorne of January 28, 1870. This document is in The Life of John Henry Cardinal Newman by Wilfrid Ward, vol. II, pp. 287-289.

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Posted on September 18, 2010

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