John Cornwell has delivered himself of an essay about Cardinal Newman that, unsurprisingly, tells us more about Cornwell than it does about Newman. Cornwell hates the Pope. Is that news?
Rarely does one discover such a perfect example of published idiocy as Cornwell’s essay. The burden of his argument is that Newman was a liberal, Pope Benedict is not, and the pope is “hijacking” Newman’s reputation to his own ends. John Henry Newman was many things, but a liberal is not one of them, if by liberal you mean someone who is unconcerned with the dogmatic content of the faith, or someone who values that dogmatic content less than contemporary intellectual fads, or someone who rejects the supernatural in favor of a rationalistic faith, or someone who ascribes to any one of a number of contemporary political concerns, all of them more or less rooted in a hyper-individualistic view of the human person. If by liberal you mean “broad minded,” well who isn’t a liberal? And, Newman was never so “broad minded” that he valued his mindedness, broad or otherwise, above the teaching authority of the Church.