Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Newman's Challenge

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Newman's Challenge

Article excerpt

Newman's Challenge. By Stanley L. Jaki. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 2000. Pp. viii, 323. $20.00 paperback.)

This is a collection of separate essays, largely written within the past decade, designed to refute the growing misperception that John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-90) was a liberal, the "father" of Vatican Council II. Stanley L. Jaki, the much-published Distinguished University Professor at Seton Hall University, argues persuasively, in a dazzling display of scholarship, that Newman was above all, and at all times, a supernaturalist. While not a mystic, Newman left Anglicanism in pursuit of the supernatural. Once in the Church, according to Jaki, he fully embraced the Church's dogmas as bulwarks against the rational and secular assumptions about reality he had fled, and he reveled in the otherworldliness offered to him. "Newman would say that heaven, angels and devils form one indivisible whole on the landscape of the supernatural."

The author, reflecting Newman's post-1845 views, has harsh things to say about the Church of England, and often quotes Newman's Anglican Difficulties. He is certainly correct in his assessment of the extremely minimal impact the Oxford Movement had on that Protestant body and of the sad state of this once proud State Church.

The Second Vatican Council receives even harsher treatment, being described as having "unintentionally opened the gates to vagueness, ambiguity, and indecision (all, of course, in the disguise of 'pastoral' solutions) that do not cease to take a heavy toll on Catholic life-priestly, religious, and lay. …

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