25 October 2015

Blessed John Henry Newman and Knockwurst Theology

An interview between the Father Rosica who is so very interested in the plight of homosexuals, and  Vincent Cardinal Nichols, in which His Eminence showed all the charm and skill with which he invariably handles 'the Press'. In the course of it, I was intrigued to learn that there had been several references to Blessed John Henry during the Synod. The interview also seemed to me to reveal that the focus of interest had been on the Blessed's writing about Development. Even on the slight evidence provided, I think there are grounds for anxiety that there may have been a suggestio falsi involved in the way in which Newman was 'used' at the Synod.

Some of the Synodal Fathers appear to hope that 'development' might be a useful way of squaring the circle; of smuggling change in under the guise of development. 

I have two comments to make about Newman; facets of his life and thought which nobody could have guessed from that 25-minute interview. I will keep my remarks as simple as I can in the hope that this will enhance their intelligibility.

(1) Newman did not write a thesis discussing how Catholic Dogma might in the future develop in such a way as to become, to all intents and purposes, changed. He wrote as an Anglican who was on the cusp of accepting the entire Magisterium and submitting to it; so he performed a detailed survey of Catholic Dogma as (then) finalised by Trent, and by so doing demonstrated historically to himself the authenticity of it as a development, without rupture, of the Faith committed to the Apostles. His text is retrospective rather than prospective; and unfinished because at the point at which he reached his positive conclusion, he put his pen down and submitted without qualifications to what the Catholic Church taught and teaches.

(2) Newman detested Liberalism and declared that his entire life, both as an Anglican and as a Catholic, had been spent fighting against it. He loathed with every fibre of his being the proposition that there is no objective and intrinsic Truth. If he had been faced with the Knockwurst Theology currently being touted around ... ubi farcimina sua ponerent absque dubio monuisset.


Nicolas Bellord said...

'Charm'? I always think VN sounds a rather unhappy man.

Highland Cathedral said...

“skill with which he invariably handles 'the Press'.”
I am not in a position to arrive at an overall opinion about his skill in handling the press but I do remember an interview on Newsnight several years ago. I can’t remember the context but it was about some issue on which the Catholic Church stands almost alone. Paxman first interviewed a lady who had a very different opinion than that of the Church. He conducted the interview in a very polite manner. Then he turned to VN and immediately his attitude changed to undisguised hostility. Poor old VN. He struggled (somewhat pathetically) to defend the Church’s position. Paxman had a field day.

John Nolan said...

Shortly after Benedict XVI's visit in 2010 there was a TV studio discussion involving VN, Lord Patten, a gay professor (Diarmaid MacCulloch) and a feminist 'theologian' (Tina Beattie). Beattie and MacCulloch ambushed the Archbishop over the Church's position concerning women and homosexuals. VN was visibly rattled but instead of explaining or defending Catholic teaching promptly tried to change the subject.

It was the equivalent of throwing away your rifle and running to the rear. I seem to recall the Newsnight interview (when he was still at Birmingham) and got the impression that he handled Paxman reasonably well. He 'kept his cool' and showed up Paxo as a bully and a bigot.

Jacobi said...

I have always noted, with some amusement, the near idolitary of Newman by so many English Catholics, not necesessarily shared by others. I myself have always had reservations about his use of language, in particular the use of the word “develope”.

But I agree Father, Newman would certainly have totally accepted what you say in (1) and particularly in (2).

Cherub said...

I think Father Hunwicke is right. If you read Newman's 7 notes on what constitutes a legitimate development of a doctrine you exclude any such "development" where the end product in any way contradicts the doctrine as originally formulated.

Kathleen1031 said...

I'm just a layperson, Fr. Hunwicke, yet I believe even I comprehend your meaning entirely. Newman would have always adhered to the teaching of the apostles and would not have supported changing it at all.
It is reprehensible the way these men seem to be scouring the writings of the orthodox in order to find something they can distort for their evil purposes. The men are dead and cannot offer a clarification.
It's diabolical!

Sadie Vacantist said...

Noel Coward questioned the theatrical rule breaking of the 1950's neo-modernist playwrights: "Did these people understand the rules they were breaking in the first place?"