Monday, October 4, 2010

Cardinal Newman


"To live is to change and to be perfect in this world is to have changed often."
Each year as fall takes hold I remind myself of this quote from John Henry Newman. The words are from his writing on the development of doctrine. His evolutionary approach to doctrine was so at odds with the very conservative theology that we were taught in the early 1950's that none of us ever dreamed that Cardinal Newman might become a saint of the Roman Catholic Church. But on September 19 the pope went to England to declare him "Blessed."
He strikes me as a perfect example of faith for our time. He was a famous Anglican priest in 19th century England when he decided to become a Roman Catholic. This took great faith on his part because it meant that he would lose a lot of his Anglican friends. What seems to me to require even greater faith is that he felt he had to do this even though he was very critical of the way authority was exercised in the Roman Catholic Church. What I find encouraging is that his criticism of the contemporary misuse of authority did not keep him from recognizing the truth and goodness and holiness of (for him) the 1900 year history of the Catholic Church.
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