Page 5, 24th August 1973

24th August 1973
Page 5
Page 5, 24th August 1973 — Newman defence

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Newman defence

Mr. David Cohen. writing in the Catholic Herald on August 17, asks for comments on a report xxhich appeared in the Jewish Chronicle of August 3 and which he seems to think contains an implicit charge of anti-semitism against Cardinal Newman. As all the Newman experts may he away on holiday, I — an admirer of Newman but no expert — will try to meet Mr. Cohen's difficulties regarding the affair of the Jerusalem Bishopric.

In his Apologia pp. 139-146, Newman lists the problems which worried him in the summer of 1841: "Between July and November I received three blows which broke me." The first arose from his study of the works of St. Athanasius, which he was then translating.He lost confidence in the theory of the Via Media.

The second blow came from the bishops who "one after another began to charge against me.They had not liked Tract 9W Then. "as if this were not enough, there came the affair of the Jerusalem Bishopric , . .

"This was the third blow, which finally shattered my faith in the Anglican Church. That Church was not only forbidding any s■ mouthy or concurrence ith the Church of Rome but it courting intercommunion with Protestant Prussia and the heresy of the Orientals." Newman saw in that final blow the practical overthrow of the Via Media theory. He wrote: "It brought me to the beginning of the end."

So it is not true to say, as the article in the Jewish Chronicle does: "The appointment is said to have been the first step in the decision of the future Cardinal Newman to go over to Rome." In fact we are dealing here with a good example of the working of the theory of the convergence of probabilities in his own life.

Newman regarded the controversy over Tract 90 as the first breach in the harriers restraining High Churchmen From leaving the Church of England. "There were no converts to Rome till after the condemnation of No. 90." (Apologia 245) He did not work out his course in isolation but as one of a party.

How was it that the affair of the Jerusalem Bishopric enabled him to reach a conclusion to his difficulties? It was certainly NOT because the first appointee was a Jewish Christian. That had nothing to do with it.

Though Newman was a great thinker he was preeminently a practical man, who took his bearings from the signs of the times. His vision of the Church in the following quotation is remarkably like that of Fr. flans Kung as expressed in his article in the Catholic Herald of August 17, and will serve to show why the die was cast once the historical decision was made to establish the Bishopric in Jerusalem.

"This is the great, manifest, historical phenomenon which converted me — to which all particuular inquiries converged," he wrote.

"Christianity is not a matter of opinion, but an external fact, entering into, carried out in, in divisible history of the

dwiovrisle from, dwiovrisle from, world.

divisible history of the

dwiovrisle from, world. "It has a bodily occupation of the world; it is one continuous fact or thing, the same from the first to last, costinct iron) everything else: to be a Christian is to partake of, to submit to, this thing; and the simple question was, where, what is this thing in this. age, which in the first age was the Catholic Church?

"The answer was undeniable: the Church called Catholic now is that very same thing in hereditary descent, in organisation, in principles. in position, in external relations, which was called the Catholic Church then; name and thing have ever gone together, by an uninterrupted connection and succession, from then till now.

"Whether it had been corrupted in its teaching was. at best, a matter of opinion. It was infinitely more evident a fact, that it stood on the ground and in the place of the ancient Church, as its heir and representative, than that certain peculiarities in its teaching were really innovations and corruptions.'' (Difficulties of Anglicans. Vol. I) What was wrong with the Jerusalem Bishopric? Dr. Pusey wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury: "The whole is an experiment, and that in so serious a thing as the Christian Church. The mingled Church to he formed under our Bishop, of Lutherans and Jewish converts, has been truly though painfully designated as an 'experimental Church'.– (Newman at Oxford, by R. D. Middleton, p.191) And David Newsome has written: "Newman was the first to perceive the enormity of this scheme, which was carried into effect by Act of Parliament in October 1841.

"Not only did it demonstrate

the kinship between Anglicanism and Lutheranism, which the Tractarians hotly repudiated, but it also had the appearance of an impudent and mischievous gesture against the Eastern Church — for the bishop appeared to be empowered (despite official assurances to the contrary) to indulge in Protestant proselytism by taking under his wing any who cared to submit to his jurisdiction." (The Parting of Friends, p. 289)

It was not Bishop Michael Solomon Alexander, who worried Newman, but his bishopric. Incidentally, Middleton tells us that "the scheme came to an end when the third Bishop died in 1881. The present Anglican Bishopric, founded a year later, was in no way committed to the errors of the German scheme and was quite distinct from it." (p.194)

Of the Jews, Newman said: "Are we better than the Jews? Is our nature less unbelieving, sensual, or proud, than theirs? Surely man is at all times the same being, as even the philosophers tell us . for our corruption is not merely in this act or that, but in our nature." (Parochial and Plain Sermons Vol. I)

He welcomed the Jewish convert, and prayed for the Jewish people: "Have mercy, 0 Jesus, on Thy own brethren — have mercy on the countrymen of Thy Mother, of St. Joseph, of Thy Apostles, of St. Paul, of Thy great Saints Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David." (Meditations and Devotions for Good Friday).

(Fr.) Michael G. Murphy, The Presbytery,

40 Old Road, Tiverton, Devon.

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