Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cardinal Newman & Religious Liberalism

I have only recently begun studying the work of this wonderful Catholic and his famous speech after receiving notice that he was to be a cardinal is, in its brevity and cogency, something to be read, as noted in this article from The Catholic Thing.

An excerpt from the speech.

“Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily. It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are matters of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy. {65} Devotion is not necessarily founded on faith. Men may go to Protestant Churches and to Catholic, may get good from both and belong to neither. They may fraternise together in spiritual thoughts and feelings, without having any views at all of doctrine in common, or seeing the need of them. Since, then, religion is so personal a peculiarity and so private a possession, we must of necessity ignore it in the intercourse of man with man. If a man puts on a new religion every morning, what is that to you? It is as impertinent to think about a man's religion as about his sources of income or his management of his family. Religion is in no sense the bond of society.”

An excerpt from The Catholic Thing article.

“John Henry Newman was in Rome, at the Palazzo della Pigna, on 12 May 1879 (exactly 131 years ago today) when he received the formal message (biglietto) that Leo XIII would make him a cardinal. On the occasion, Newman responded with a famous address known as the “Biglietto” Speech. L’Osservatore Romano, English, reproduced this historical address on April 14, 2010.

“The speech is formal. Newman is surprised. He assumed that he had finished his life’s work. But Pope Leo tells him that, besides his own years of labor, the English Catholics, even Protestants, would be pleased. It would be, Newman thought, “insensible and heartless” to refuse. Somehow, John Henry Cardinal Newman still sounds better than John Henry Newman.

“Newman next recalls what his own work has been about. “For thirty, forty, fifty years, I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion.” Do contemporary liberals in religion shake on reading this sentence? I wonder. Of course not, it is still mostly their quaint faith.”