Blessed-to-be John Henry

Assuming that the Pope isn’t arrested when he sets foot in the United Kingdom, he will be beatifying John Henry Newman there on 19 September.

I admired JHN greatly in my early 20s, and Apologia Pro Vita Sua is high on my To Be Reread list. His notion of the Development of Doctrine was a bit of an intellectual lifesaver to me as a young Catholic facing such dogmas as ‘extra ecclesiam nulla salus‘, which would have condemned all non-Catholics to Hell for eternity, and helps me to have some grasp of how friends I respect can adhere to a church that requires one to believe, for one example, that Mary was a virgin before during and after the birth of Jesus (ante partum, in partu, post partum).

Sadly, the heroes of one’s youth look a little different forty years later. I recently read a friend’s Eng Lit Hons thesis on Newman’s novels, and was shocked to encounter this quote:

He is only half a man if he can’t put his book into the fire when told by authority.

I suppose that’s not so different in spirit from the challenging line from Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, ‘The truth is not always revolutionary.’ All the same, this beatification is not one that betokens a softening of hard line Catholicism.

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