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Cardinal Newman as a liberal icon? The argument continues

September 17, 2010

As the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman approaches, the battle for his legacy is heating up. John Cornwell, the author of several books attacking the Catholic Church, charges that Pope Benedict is trying to hijack the legacy of a “dissident” Catholic. Cornwell expresses admiration for Cardinal Newman, but asks:

But why had Benedict, a rigid conservative, seen fit to hasten the beatification of a man who has an iconic stature for liberal Catholic intellectuals throughout the English-speaking world?

In a devastating reply, Father Robert Barron points to “the danger of using such tired and unhelpful categories” as “liberal” and “conservative” when discussing theological issues. But if those terms are being used, perhaps Cornwell should grapple with this statement by Cardinal Newman:

"I consider my entire life's work, both as an Anglican and a Catholic, to have been a battle against liberalism in matters of religion!"

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  • Posted by: Obregon - Sep. 18, 2010 12:32 AM ET USA

    "I consider my entire life's work, both as an Anglican and a Catholic, to have been a battle against liberalism in matters of religion!" Wow! I did not know Newman said that and I hope his words will give Cornwell and his ilk much to think about.

  • Posted by: sparch - Sep. 17, 2010 4:44 PM ET USA

    LOL The very idea that liberals try to politisize the church is shameful. This is the pivot point between those Catholics who tear down the church and those that defend the church. Those who attack see it through the prism of the world. Those that defend it see it through the window of Christ. (Critisism of the church is a healthy excersize to encourage rational discussion. This is not healthy.)