BLESSED JOHN HENRY NEWMAN

CARDINAL , 1801 - 1890

 

-          Catholics in the UK lived a great moment during the week of 15 - 19 September 2010 as a result of the first State Visit by a Pope , Pope Benedict XVI , to Scotland and England since the separation of the Catholic Church of Rome and the Anglican Church of Canterbury in 1534.

-          One must not confuse this visit with the Pastoral Visit undertaken by Pope John Paul II in May / June 1982 just before the Falklands War when Mrs Thatcher was Prime Minister .

-          This visit is just the conclusion of a long journey of meetings and discussions between Catholics and Anglicans which was officially recognized through the ' Catholic Emancipation Act ' of 1829 . Catholics acquired the same rights as Anglicans , but in Northern Ireland this did not happen till 1969 under the Harold Wilson Government .

-          One of the architects of this reconciliation movement was Cardinal John Henry Newman . On Sunday 19 September the Pope celebrated his beatification Mass in Birmingham , geographic centre of the Catholic Revival in England.

-          John Henry Newman was born in London in 1801 and was a member of the "established Anglican church". He had a passion for the Bible and after his studies at Trinity College, Oxford, he was ordained a priest in the Anglican Church in 1822, appointed vicar of the Parish of St Clement, and in 1828 Priest in charge of the Oxford University Parish and elected member of Oriel College, Oxford.

-          His theological research took on greater importance and in 1833 , during a visit to the Mediterranean region , he realised that the Anglican religion did not fully resemble the true Christian faith .

-          On his return and following a denounciation of his writings by Anglicans , he retired from his Anglican religious activities in 1839.

-          He assembled around himself a group of friends , including Ambrose de Lisle , a catholic , and together founded the Oxford Movement . Ambrose de Lisle introduced Newman to Father Dominic Barberi , a Passionist priest ( beatified in 1970) , and on the 9th of October 1845 Newman was received into the Catholic Church of Rome .

-          His conversion brought him the rejection of his many friends and family , but nevertheless he left for Rome to study for the priesthood . He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1847 .

-          On his return to England , on a visit to his friend Ambrose de Lisle , he visited Mount Saint Bernard Abbey which de Lisle had had built on his estate and had re-established a group of Cistercian monks in 1835 . It was there that he had the idea of founding an

" Oratory " near Birmingham . The correspondence between Newman and de Lisle , recognized for its importance , lasted until 1878 , the death of Ambrose de Lisle .

-          Newman has always been recognized as a great philosopher , but nevertheless a certain number of Catholics and Anglicans considered him a trouble maker , since they did not want to acknowledge his arguments on the subject of Conscience , Faith and the Authority of the Church .

-          In 1851, the Dublin Primacy invited him to establish a Catholic University in Dublin and to become its first Rector in 1858.

-          Notwithstanding all his works and travels, Newman continued his action in support of the Oxford Movement through his preaching and writing.

-          In 1875, he wrote "ever since the day when I became a Catholic, about 30 years ago, I have never had any anxiety or doubt that the Church of Rome is truly the Church established by the Apostles on Pentecost Day".

-          In 1879 aged 78 years old, Pope Leo XIII, in recognition of his extraordinary work and devotion, raised this simple priest to the rank of Cardinal. Cardinal Newman died on the 11th August 1890.

-          Newman through his writings : Conscience and Morality, The Spiritual Life, Ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, The Challenge to Atheism, The meaning of priestly celibacy, continues to make Christians, philosophers and authors to reflect.

-          Today in a certain environment, there is a wish to name him as the Patron of the new "ordinariates", a name given to Anglicans from Canterbury who have converted to the Catholic Church of Rome. Since it must not be forgotten that Newman and the Oxford Movement worked for this ecumenic reconciliation which we recognise today and which we celebrate during the week long prayers for Christian Unity.

 

 

Hubert de Lisle , great grand-son of Ambrose de Lisle

 

Text read on Sunday 19 September 2010

Beatification of JH Newman

 

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