From the Revd Dr Ian Ker
Sir, According to Michael Perrott (Feb 22), I am one of those "many Newman scholars" whom Stanley Jaki "derisively calls `Newmanists'", whose "distortion" of Newman he has been "able to uncover" in what Perrott calls "a momentous breakthrough in Newman scholarship". What apparently Jaki has discovered for the first time is that in Newman's letters "no one theme is so prevalent as ecclesiology and conversion-.
Really? I can think of a number of other themes which are at least as important. I have not read Jaki's book. nor do I intend to do so, having in his previous writings already sampled his ill-informed and tendentious approach to Newman. Jaki is a recognised authority on religion and science; he is not by any stretch of the imagination a plausible guide to Newman. As for myself. I have edited a book called Newman and Conversion (1997), papers deliv
ered at a conference dedicated to this very theme.
My biography of Newman contains innumerable references to Newman's sensitive and tactful help to those seeking their way into the Church. His was a very different way from that of his Ultramontane fellow converts. who greatly deplored Newman's Jack of zeal in "making" converts. It sounds as if Fr Jaki, who, one understands, prefers Vatican 1 to Vatican II, would also prefer the latter to Newman's conciliatory approach.
Yours faithfully. IAN KER Oxford