9 July 2019

Read Ker

I read somewhere that a layman, said to be a buddy of some of the English Bishops, had claimed that for Blessed John Henry to be canonised by PF was highly suitable, because JHN was opposed to papal Infallibility, while PF often admits that he is wrong.

I can think of few suggestions more childishly perverse. JHN was most certainly not opposed to the dogma of papal infallibilty. Indeed, the claim itself demonstrates a woeful lack of appreciation of a brilliant, subtle, and nuanced mind.

Nor is PF famous for admitting his errors. Try asking the unfortunates whom he has viciously attacked and continues to lacerate.

I am afraid that we are going to get more of this: as we approach the canonisation, Begoglians, illiterates, and other life-forms will crawl out of the woodwork, claiming to instruct us on the teaching, and the significance, of this great Saint. How irritating. I suggest that readers who have not already done so should educate themselves by reading Dr Ker's biography of JHN in the 'Oxford Lives' series.

A thoughtful friend is uneasy about the canonisation because, she feels, for JHN to be canonised by such a pope runs the risk of bracketing JHN with some dodgy individuals canonised by this pope. I do see her point.

But apart from the clearly identifiable disorder of canonising 'the conciliar popes' as a crude piece of highly unedifying church politics, most canonisations have been of individuals who were already moving comfortably through the pipeline. Although the Bishop of Rome does the final formalities, I believe we should look upon canonisation as an act of the Church.

In order to give expression to this conviction, I shall in future refer to JHN as "S John Henry", even before October!


mcgod said...

Hear Hear! We already do at Adelaide's Ordinariate Chapel of Sts George & Michael

Scribe said...

Dear Father,

While conceding that it is simplistic to say that Newman was opposed to Papal Infalibility, I do wish the Pope would canonise Cardinal Manning, who was a most zealous advocate of the doctrine, and did so much at Vatican I to see it passed as a doctrine to which the Faithful must give assent. Further, he did much to settle the great dock strike,and was widely revered by people of all persuasions. Furthermore, like so many of us (Newman included), he was a convert from Anglicanism. Further still, he happens to be my favourite cardinal, closely followed by Cardinal Vaughan, who gave us our beautiful Metropolitan Cathedral, so often admired by you, Father. So maybe he, too, in this age when saints are made in batches like loaves, could be made a saint. This would be satisfying to the cradle Catholics. I will stop, now.

rick allen said...

"I suggest that readers who have not already done so should educate themselves by reading Dr Ker's biography of JHN in the 'Oxford Lives' series."

I have nothing against Fr. Ker--in fact, I've only recently gotten around to reading Newman's Grammar of Assent in the admirable OUP edition that he edited and introduced.

But it's ridiculously easy these days to go right to the source. Most of Newman's writings, and almost all of his principal works, are available here:


The Letter to the Duke of Norfolk covers the then-recent Vatican council eloquently and succinctly.

PM said...

On the question of canonising pope's, I have often wondered why Leo XIII has missed out. As far as I know, he was a man of unimpeachable piety and morals, and one of the great teaching pope's (at least if you are a Thomist!). So what is the problem?