John Cornwell's essay in the Financial Times, The papal hijacking of Cardinal Newman, is creating quite a stir. Cornwell's biography of Newman, Newman’s Unquiet Grave: The Reluctant Saint, is the book of choice this week in the NCR Book Club, with a review by Jesuit Fr. Peter L’Estrange.
Cornwell's thesis in his essay is that "John Henry Newman has always been a source of inspiration to Catholic liberals for his tendency to see both sides of every question and to follow conscience wherever it may lead," and this makes his imminent beatification "paradoxical."But why had Benedict, a rigid conservative, seen fit to hasten the beatification of a man who has an iconic stature for liberal Catholic intellectuals throughout the English-speaking world? All becomes clear with Benedict’s revision of John Henry Newman’s legacy. Pope Benedict and Catholic officialdom are presenting Newman as an exemplar of unquestioning papal allegiance. The Cardinal has been pontifically hijacked.
Cornwell says that the case for Newman's beatification was "dragging on fitfully" until Pope Benedict XVI put it on the fast-track two years ago.
... Addressing the bishops of England and Wales in Rome this February, [Benedict] declared that Newman was an example to the world of opposition to "dissent." It was like saying that Churchill had been a Trotskyite all along.
Read the full essay here: The papal hijacking of Cardinal Newman.
John Allen will be filing reports throughout the Papal visit to the U.K. Sept. 16-19. Stay tuned to NCR Today for updates.
|Stories in this series on the papal visit to Scotland and England: |
- Hijacking or setting him free, Benedict loves Newman, by John L. Allen, Jr.
- Benedict finds unlikely ally in British PM, by John L. Allen, Jr.
- Polarized opinion on pope fills London streets, by John L. Allen, Jr.
- Trying to solve the church's communications problem, by John L. Allen, Jr.
- Pope meets with sex abuse victims, by John L. Allen, Jr.
- Analysis: Benedict's in a box in talking about the crisis, by John L. Allen, Jr.
- Pope apologizes for 'unspeakable crimes' of sex abuse, by John L. Allen, Jr.
- Joint statement on meeting between Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury
- Benedict in Britain: We get it, we've got it, let's share it, by John L. Allen, Jr.
- Pope calls on religions to defend environment, human life, by John L. Allen, Jr.
- Full text of pope's comments on the crisis, by John L. Allen, Jr.
- Of all people, Cardinal Kasper?, by John L. Allen, Jr.
- Benedict battles the 'dictatorship of relativism', by John L. Allen, Jr.
- Pope on crisis: 'We weren't fast enough', by John L. Allen, Jr.
- Benedict to step into buzz saw of dissent during upcoming UK visit, by John L. Allen, Jr.
- Newman still commands our attention, an NCR editorial
- He even prayed 'with a pen in his hand', a book review by Peter L’Estrange
- Hijacking Newman, by Dennis Coday
- Newman: the 'sense' and 'consent' of the faithful, a viewpoint by Robert McClory
All this week in his Distinctly Catholic blog, Michael Sean Winters is interviewing a variety of Newman scholars:
Related items in Distinctly Catholic: