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The Cardinalate of John Henry Newman
Different topics - 22 June 2009

Snider Carlo

1. Newman on the eve of his elevation to the office of cardinal

The elevation of John Henry Newman to the dignity of the office of cardinal can be seen as the apotheosis of his sorely tried life. Thus, one ought to attribute to him the full and definitive rehabilitation of the thinker-theologian, sub­jected to mysterious accusations, malevolent insinuations and systematic criticism for many years. One need only consider the drastic judgement of Monsignor Talbot, Chamberlain to Pius IX, and one of New­man’s most implacable adversaries. He was principally responsible for the diffidence within Roman circles shown to the convert and for the measures taken following upon this attitude, including those which impeded him from returning to Oxford. [1] Talbot wrote to Cardinal Manning, Archbishop of West­minster,[2] hoping to find a sympathetic ear: “Dr. New­man is the most dangerous man in England.”[3] Despite the hostility and misunderstanding suffered by Newman at this time, he maintained an ever-serene coun­tenance. In a letter written by him on the 8th January 1867, he confided to Miss Bowles, “Time is the great remedy and Avenger of all wrongs, as far as this world goes. If only we are patient, God works for us – He works for those who do not work for themselves.” [4]

Although encouraged to, he never wished to counter the accusations levelled against his actions and his writ­ings. Although his aversion towards travel prevented his presenting himself in Rome, it was more his persuasion of the uselessness of a personal intervention on his behalf that impeded his going there. The benevolence he deserved from the departments of the Curia, especially in the face of accusations and insinuations, was not forthcoming. The high praises of Pius IX, of Cardinal Barnabò, Prefect of Propaganda Fide, [5] and of the other personages of the Roman ecclesiastical world [6] compiled by Ambrose St. John and Henry Bittleston, defendants of Newman before the Curia, seemed to indicate some support. In reality, they did not silence the clamorous voices of opposition.

These many years of suffering purified the soul of New­man. If, in his writings, from time to time, there appear traces of suffering and sorrow, it is due to the fact that he feels himself impeded from the exercise of his ministry of leading souls to truth. He also sees threatened that institute through which, after his conversion, he was able to continue his action as teacher and priest. However, even when he weeps, he manifests an unswerving trust in God. A moving example of this communion with God is seen when the actions of his adversaries seemed to compromise the existence of the Oratory itself: “Let not the contempt which comes on me, injure the future of my Oratory – about which I am anxious, though I ought to put it, and do put it simply into Thy hands, O Lord.” [7]

Bearing in mind these considerations, it is understandable how the elevation to the office of cardinal was seen by New­man himself as a solemn rehabilitation or rather, as the full recognition by the Holy See of the orthodoxy of his thought, of his constant faithfulness to the Magisterium of the Church, and of the value of his work as a thinker and a teacher.

Another fact worthy of mention is one which has become more evident with the passing of time. The conferring of the office of cardinal on Doctor Newman constitutes a point of reference in the history of the relations existing between the Church and the cultural world in the modern era. With the ascendancy of Leo XIII, Newman was able to appreciate the gradual realisation of these relationships. It can be stated that Papa Pecci, upon creating the great convert a Cardinal, wished to enunciate a more decided opening of the Church towards the cultural life of the times. This can be deduced from his own words and attitude. To Giovan­ni Battista de Rossi [8] who asked him what would be the programme of his Pontificate, Leo XIII responded: “Wait till you see my first Cardinal; that will show you what will be typical of my Pontificate.” In this episode, a number of Newman’s biographers have seen a particular allusion to Newman himself. [9] This interpretation seems to be untenable. In the first con­sistory of Leo XIII, Newman, then a simple priest, was created Cardinal along with nine others. He would not have been the first in the order of elevation. It is more probable that the Pope alluded to his first consistory. This does not change the significance given by Leo XIII to the cardinalate of Newman.

For the old “fellow” and “tutor” of Oxford, the elec­tion of Cardinal Pecci to the papacy was a premonition of more serene years and of a better comprehension of his work. Even from the first acts of the Pontificate, he was able to discern the firm will of the new Pope of en­couraging a positive activity in Catholic thought. One should not assume that Leo XIII had particular designs in favour of Newman, who up to that time had passed so many years in silence and in the recollection of Edgbaston, or in the retreat of Rednal.

2. The first petitions in favour of the Cardinalate

The cardinalate of John Henry Newman constituted the crowning success of the repeated attempts of qualified expo­nents of the Catholic laity in England, because with the intervention of the Holy See, Newman was accorded the con­sideration which he so amply merited. The initiative of the laity can be seen in their desire to see Newman elev­ated, so that the value of his thought and its merits, accumulated throughout his lifetime, might be placed on the same plane of recognition and moral authority upon which were placed the thought and the actions of other ecclesiastics, all of them worthy, but not all equally meriting particular consideration.

From the outset, Cardinal Howard [10] was a sincere admirer of Newman and his constant defender in the Roman Curia. In London in July 1878, he sought from the beginning to ensure the added support of his cousin, the Duke of Norfolk. The compliance of the Duke was immediate­ly forthcoming. Together with the Marquis of Ripon, he ap­pealed to Cardinal Manning, seeking to dispose him favourably to offer the wishes of the English Cath­olic laypeople to the Pope. [11] The dispositions of Manning, notori­ously unfavourable to Newman, rendered the task delicate indeed. [12] The step was indispensable, inasmuch as Leo XIII would not have created Newman Cardinal without first having assured himself as to the thought of Manning, the Archbishop of Westminster. Although the request struck the Archbishop “as a shock”, [13] he accepted immediately to the submission of a petition to the Pope in which would be outlined the merits of Newman for English Catholics. [14]

Conditions seemed ripe for success. However, the sur­prise of the Duke of Norfolk was great when, in the first days of December, having been received in audience by the Pope, he discovered that because of the long absence of Howard from Rome, the petition of Manning had not yet been presented. Leo XIII declared that he was willing to consider the Duke’s proposal after hearing the mind of Manning. The Duke returned to the Archbishop of Westminster seeking a second petition. It is not known if this new petition reached Rome, or whether Howard, having returned to Rome, presented the first one to the Pope. However, the Pope showed an immediate propensity to make his own the sentiments of the Duke of Norfolk. It was by an impulse of his own esteem and veneration towards Newman. This dis­position induced him to resist with firmness the pressures levelled by those who, even to the last, sought to place obstacles in his path. In 1888, he received Lord Selbourne in audience who carried a message from Newman to the Pope. Even then, the Pope remembered the tenacity of the opposi­tion. He said, “My Cardinal! It was not easy, not easy… They said he was too liberal; but I had determined to honour the Church in honouring Newman. I always had veneration for him. I am proud that I was allowed to honour such a man.” [15]

3. The offering of the Cardinal’s hat

Even from the first months of his Pontificate, Leo XIII showed Newman signs of his consideration. The sentiments of the Pope are illuminated in a letter, which at the end of January 1879, the Secretary of State, Cardinal Nina, addressed confidentially to Cardinal Manning. In it, he informed him that Leo XIII had the intention of creating Newman cardinal and sought to ascertain Newman’s acceptance of the honour. [16] On the 29th January, this letter reached Manning, who forwarded it the same day to Bishop Ullathorne OSB, whose diocese Newman inhabited. [17] The Bishop, who was at Oscott at the time, invited Newman to come to him. However, Newman was ill at the time and so his confrere Father Pope went in his stead. He carried a letter back to Newman from the Bishop, notifying him of the Pope’s intentions. [18] Newman responded to Ullathorne with a letter in Latin, which was intended for Cardinal Nina. In it, he expressed his gratitude for the benevolence shown to him by the Pope. He declared that he would accept the high dignity, but he added, “I am old and distrustful of myself; I have lived now thirty years ‘in my little nest’ in my much loved Oratory, sheltered and happy, and would therefore entreat his Holiness in compassion of my diffidence of mind, in consideration of my feeble health, my nearly eighty years, the retired course of my life from my youth, my ignorance of foreign languages, and my lack of experience in busi­ness, to let me die where I have so long lived. Since I know now and henceforth that his Holiness thinks kindly of me, what more can I desire?” [19]

This letter was delivered personally to Oscott by Newman and given to Bishop Ullathorne, who on the same day sent it to Cardinal Manning, along with a letter of his own, in which he expounded with greater amplitude upon the sentiments of gratitude and the desires of the Oratorian. [20] Newman also wrote to Manning on the fifth of February in terms more stringent than those expressed by Ullathorne. [21] However, the Cardinal had already sent the letter of Newman to Ullathorne to Rome without Ullathorne’s appended letter. Read in isolation, Newman’s letter might have been interpreted as a courteous renunciation of the dignity offered to him.

Effectively, the notice of renunciation began to ap­pear and to be enlarged upon concurrently with that of the designation to the office of cardinal. Since it was despatched from the premises of the Curia of the Archbishop, the suspicion of an intrigue impeding the promotion of Newman was reinforced. Fearing that the notice might give rise to a negative im­pression in Rome, Bishop Ullathorne, on the eleventh of February appealed directly to Cardinal Nina, submitting his own letter of the third of February, written to Manning. It was an opportune decision, inasmuch as in the interim, Car­dinal Manning was summoned to Rome and was convinced that the refusal submitted by Newman would be honoured by the Pope. This attitude was expressed in a letter to the Duke of Norfolk. The Duke, to whom Newman wrote in quite dif­ferent terms, was not persuaded as to the genuineness of Newman’s refusal and sought to ascertain from Manning with alacrity the source of his information. He reminded the Cardinal of the confusion that would be provoked in Eng­land and the possibility that the honour bestowed on New­man would perhaps not be appreciated. [22] The letter of the Duke reached Manning in Rome and had a positive effect. Persuading himself he had wrongly interpreted the re­sponse given by Newman, Manning was forced to speak in favour of the latter. Thus, after having clarified the situation with Leo XIII, he informed Ullathorne by a letter on the 25th Feb­ruary and a telegram on the 27th that Newman’s cardinalate was already assured. [23]

4. Public opinion and the Cardinalate of Newman

While these intrigues were being resolved, the English Press propagated various opinions. The Times, on the eighteenth of Feb­ruary announced the decision of the Pope and the refusal of Newman. For the Guardian, the cardinalate would not make Newman any greater a personality. According to the Pall Mall Gazette, the ultramontane hoped to show that the news of Newman’s honour might be an invention of the Press. The Spectator was of the opinion that if Newman would have accepted the offer, it would have shown that Rome did not wish to put down the current of opinion, whose adherents were not sympathetic to the modus operandi of the council. Under the title, “Coronatus, non pileatus”, the review Punch of the 1st March set forth the opinion that the Cardinal’s hat would not have honoured Newman, rather, Newman would have honoured the hat; it would not do to place Newman and Manning on a par.[24] The divulgence of these comments procured a quantity of letters for Newman, both of congratulations regarding the honour done him, or of censure for his refusal. On all sides, he was besieged with requests for information and explanations. Newman found himself in a delicate position, confronted both by the decision of the Pope and by uncer­tainties of what would be expected of him by the office itself.

5. Manning and Newman

Contributing to this apprehension was the attitude of Manning who, despite his “support”, showed himself coldly dis­posed towards Newman, both during the days leading to his elev­ation to the cardinalate and afterwards. For example, it was only after seven days following Newman’s elevation that Manning conveyed to him the congratulations of the English Episco­pate. The biographer of Manning, of course, does not hesi­tate to mention that neither did Newman congratulate Man­ning upon his ascendancy. [25] Nine years following the conferring of the Red Hat upon Newman, Manning remained obdurate. In 1888, he reproved Ullathorne for having sup­ported Newman with so much zeal. He said, “You do not know Newman as I do. He simply twists you round his little fin­ger; he bamboozles you with his carefully selected words, and plays so subtle with his logic that your simplicity is taken in. You are no match for him!” Ullathorne will comment upon this outburst of Manning, observing the dif­ference in stature between the two men. He noted that Man­ning appeared as diffident towards Newman, Ullathorne sought to persuade him of his worth. [26] However, Ullathorne saw in Manning a powerful, dazzling prince of the Church, and a social reformer, but not the man of study and continuous reflections that Newman was.

We must strive to understand Manning. His intransi­gent spiritual and intellectual position was the fruit of his own conversion from Anglicanism and the following years of attentive and zealous ecclesiastical ministry which he exercised. He saw in the elevation of Newman the endorsement of a concept of the Church which he had al­ways combated as dangerous. The relation­ship between Newman and Manning is somewhat analogous to that which existed between Gregory Nazianzen and Basil the Great. It was “Gregory of Oxford” and “Basil of West­minster”. Newman appears as an intellectual, struggling with his own concepts, led to scrupulously doubt that which he had attained, to distrust his postulates, to saw away the branch upon which he perched. Manning, instead, is the man of action, in the strongest sense of the word. For him, ideas are not “pawns of an extremely subtle and com­plex chess game,” but rather, “the operative basis upon which one should build.” A man like Manning found it dif­ficult to sympathise with the intellectual difficulties of an adversary. [27]

This description renders account of the different sensibilities of the two men. This divergence did not ren­der mutual esteem difficult, as much as it did mutual ac­cord in thought and action.

6. The official announcement of the conferring of the cardinalate

In spite of Newmans misgivings and his desire to re­main hidden, on the fifteenth of March, in an official communiqué from Cardinal Nina, Newman was notified of the Pope’s final decision to create him cardinal. Nina emphasised that the Pope conferred the honour “deeply appreciating the genius and learning which distinguish you, your piety, the zeal displayed by you in the exercise of the sacred Ministry, your devotion and filial attachment to the Holy Apostolic See, and the signal services you have for long years ren­dered to religion.” [28] This letter was sent the same day to Newman by Manning, who was still at Rome. [29]

From the time that he received the first notice of his designation, and having overcome the difficulties and misunderstandings considered thus far, and even when the promotion became certain and official, Newman repeatedly asked how the new Pontiff, who had for thirty years re­sided in his remote Episcopal See of Perugia, was so well informed as to offer him such a high sign of consideration and benevolence. It is probably not erroneous to maintain that the future Leo XIII learned to know and appreciate Newman and his work during his service as Nuncio in Belgium. This familiarity on the part of the Pope is owed in part to the agency of two celebrated Passionist Fathers: Igna­tius Spencer, one of the most illustrious English converts of the first half of the nineteenth century, and Blessed Dominic Barberi. In an entry of his diary of the 10th July 1844, Father Spencer notes that he was in Brussels with the Nuncio Pecci, and of having spoken with him of the Oxford Movement; a fact of which the Nuncio showed himself to be well-informed and in which he took an interest. [30] On the 17th October 1845, the Nuncio received Father Barberi, only eight days after Newman had presented him with his profession of the Catholic faith at Littlemore. [31] One can suppose that the Nuncio, knowing of the ministry exercised by Father Barberi within Oxford circles and of his rapport with some of the most authoritative leaders of the Movement, chief of whom was Newman himself, was well-informed of the conversion and its consequences within the ambit of Ox­ford. Knowing of the high opinion that Father Barberi had of the virtues and intellectual qualities of the new con­vert, it is not difficult or untenable to see that he spoke to Pecci in terms expressive of his admiration.

It is clear that in promoting Newman to the cardinalate, Leo XIII wished to show his sympathy and friendly disposi­tion towards England. With some exceptions, the Catholic and Anglican population of England reacted positively to the decision of the Pontiff. Already by the twentieth of February, there was the initiative taken to deliver an ad­dress to both Leo XIII and to Newman. On the eleventh of March, a fund was begun, to be placed at the disposal of the Car­dinal-Elect.

The consistory for the creation of the new Cardinals was planned for the 12th May 1879. On the sixteenth of April, accompanied by Father William Neville, Newman left Birming­ham for London. The following day he travelled to Folkstone, where he passed the night. On the eighteenth, he crossed the Channel and proceeded to Paris. During the voyage, he made a stop at Turin – his health being very fragile – where he arrived on the nineteenth and stayed for the night in the Grande Albergo della Liguria. On the twentieth, he stopped in Genoa and on the 21st in Pisa, where he remained until the morning of the 23rd. The last stopping-place was Siena. He arrived in Rome on the 24th April. He was not able to gain entrance to the Oratory of Santa Maria in Vallicella. It was under the custodianship of the government. Thus, he was forced to reside at the Hotel Bristol. On the 27th, he was received in private audience with the Pope. He described the en­counter in a letter of the 2nd May to his confrere, Father Henry Bittleston. [32] During these days, the Roman news­papers gave repeated accounts of the personality and work of Newman.

7. The consistories

On the morning of the 12th May, Newman went to the apartment of Cardinal Howard where, at the end of the secret consis­tory, he would receive the ballot of nomination, in accord with the customs of the day. In the consistory along with Newman, nine others were made Cardinals. They were Frederick de Fürstenberg, Archbishop of Holomuc, Julian Florian Desprez, Archbishop of Toulouse, Louis Haynald, Archbishop of Kalosca, Louis Francis Pie, Bishop of Poi­tiers, Amerigo Ferreira dos Santos Silva, Bishop of Albenga – all made Cardinal Priests; Josef Hergenröther, do­mestic prelate and doctor of the Academy of Würzburg, Thomas Zigliara, OP, Rector of the College of St. Thomas in Rome, and the brother of the Pope, Monsignor Giuseppe Pecci, Vice-Librarian of Holy Roman Church. These men were made, along with Newman, Cardinal Deacons. These were all bishops and priests noted for their theological acumen and pastoral zeal. [33] In their respective coun­tries, some enjoyed a prestige which extended beyond their dioceses. Within their number the names of’ Pie and Hergenröther especially stood out. [34] Intellectually, none of the elect were on the same plane as Newman. Thinking of the intellectual qualities of the Cardinals, Franz X. Kraus wrote in his diary: “The company into which my dear New­man has entered into the Collegium of Cardinals is not the best.”[35] Lady Blennerhassett assured him that the name of Newman would outlive the rest. [36] Time has proved her right. In spite of the quality of their thought and knowledge and the general framework of their actions, perhaps too much conditioned by the historical circumstances in which they lived, the names of these men are today large­ly forgotten. Only that of Newman continues to live, and with an ever-growing authority.

In the secret consistory, he was named the first of the deacons, but the traditional request made of the Cardi­nals, the “quid vobis bidetur?” which occurred at the mo­ment of the actual conferment found him in third place, after Pecci and Hergenröther. [37] It is curious that in the double announcement at the end of the consistorial allo­cution, Newman was erroneously qualified as “presbyter Phillipianus e Congregatione Londinensi.” [38]

At the end of the secret consistory, a papal ceremonarius brought Newman the nomination, which was read by Doctor Clifford, Bishop of Clifton, in the presence of a crowd that was so great, “that not a few were unable to find a place in the huge hall.”[39] The discourse of gratitude pronounced by Newman at the end of the announce­ment is a fundamental text and indispensable for the understanding of his thought and the exact interpretation of his doctrine. It was first issued complete by L’Osservatore Romano and then by other Roman and Italian Catholic journals. [40] Civiltà Cattolica commented on the dis­course as being a most important one.

Naturally, in the words of the Cardinal, the reviews saw considerations valid for political conditions existing in Italy at the time. Within the commentary of Civiltà Cattolica one reads, “Whoever knows even a little of the gradual progress of the revolution in Italy, and the ef­fects which this bears on religion, cannot underestimate the evidence, and recognise further that Cardinal Newman, although speaking with special reference to England, has expressed to perfection the character of Italian Liberal­ism and the end towards which it is precipitating, es­pecially through the efforts of the Moderates and of the Liberal Catholics who are the craftiest and most efficient collaborators of the Freemasons in the awesome work of social apostasy from God, even though they might be realising it in an indirect manner.”[41]

The ceremonies continued next morning, the 13th May, with the reception of the Cardinal’s biretta from Leo XIII. At the conclusion of this ceremony, Cardinal Pecci, the first of the Cardinals present, pronounced the usual dis­course of thanksgiving, to which the Pope answered with a few affectionate words.

The next morning, in the great Aula of the English College in Rome, overcrowded with guests, the new Cardi­nal was presented with the gifts of the English Catholics. In the laudatory allocution, read in the name of the “de­voted English, Scotch, Irish and American Children, at present residing in Rome”, Lady Herbert said, “We feel that in making you a Cardinal, the Holy Father has not only given public testimony to his appreciation of your great merits, and of the value of your admirable writings in defence of God and his Church, but has also conferred the greatest possible honour on all English-speaking Cath­olics, who have long looked up to you as their spiritual Father, and as, their Guide in the paths of holiness.”[42] “In the paths of holiness” should not be astonishing. It reflects the matured conviction in the souls of those who had occasion to know and to penetrate the soul and the conduct of Doctor Newman throughout his life. One only need reflect upon the tenor of his life in the retreat at Littlemore when he was not yet converted by Blessed Dominic Barberi. [43] With respect to the honour felt by the English Catholics upon Newman’s elevation, this was already confirmed by Newman himself after the consistory of the twelfth of May, in his “Biglietto Speech”. He affirmed at that time that Leo XIII sought to favour English Cath­olics as well as Protestant England in his choice of New­man.[44]

On the morning of the fifteenth, the public consistory was held, in the course of which the Pope gave the galero to the Cardinals. After this public rite, he conferred the rings and assigned to each of them their presbyteral titles or deaconries. Newman was given the deaconry title of San Giorgio al Velabro. Perhaps it is significant that St. George is the Patron of England.[45] On the same day, New­man received nomination as a member of the Congrega­tions of the Propaganda, of Rites, of Studies, and of Indulgences and Relics.

Newman was able to participate in the rites pre­scribed by the ceremonial; due to the precarious state of his health, however, he was unable to take part in any other ceremonies. He was forced to keep to his room for the greater part of his days at Rome following the public con­sistory. This motivated the propagation of rumours by many journals as to his poor health. This was refuted by L’Osservatore Romano of the 29th May. Even after his recovery, Newman was unable to sustain the fatigue of the ceremony for the acceptance of his Deaconry and of visits of proto­col. The unique exception to this was a visit he paid in the early days of June to the Urbanian College of Propa­ganda Fide, in memory of his post-conversion studies there. Thus, he spent his days in Rome. Notwithstanding the fact that he attracted more attention than did his colleagues, he maintained his characteristic spirit of silence and recollection, a spirit he would be noted for even to his death.[46]

8. Newman’s return to Edgbaston

This quiet was further tried by the clamorous reception which greeted him upon his arrival back in England. Maintaining a momentary silence concerning opinions ex­pressed upon the first notices of Newman’s possible elev­ation, the Press now underlined the importance of the fact, recognising that Newman’s cardinalate had assumed “proportions of national importance.” The Month wrote that this was the first time that the majority of English­men of cultivation and intelligence rejoice at the crea­tion of a Cardinal…;’ even English protestants are proud of Newman as a great Englishman, and it is evident that they understand that the honour conferred redounds in part upon the nation whose son he is, and of which he is the most admirably gifted. Giving an account of the meeting held in London at the Norfolk House in honour of the new Cardinal, The Times commented that the Catholic gathering expresses a fact when it emphasises the common admiration of Doctor Newman’s fellow-citizens, from which­ever persuasion; for his capacity as orator, thinker, profound and wise observer, who reads human hearts as a book, and the great writer whose style conveys delicate harmony.

That which most moved Newman, however, was the invita­tion extended to him by Trinity College, Oxford, to pre­side at the traditional dinner in remembrance of the gaudy in 1880. The previous day, the 23rd May, the Feast of the Trinity, he preached twice in St. Aloysius’, the Jesuit Church in Oxford. The following day, he was at Trinity College for the festivities, which were more memorable for him than those offered to him in February 1878, when he was pro­claimed Honorary Fellow of the College.[47]

The importance of Newman’s cardinalate was not affirm­ed only from the standpoint of its national relevance. It was soon understood in its real historical dimensions, which transcended the geographical limitations of his own country and extended to the wider realm of the times in which he lived. The consistory suggested to the liberal Roman pub­lication Opinione some considerations on the Church and the papacy after their loss of temporal power. In its issue of the 17th May 1879 it commented: “Of the ten Cardinals nominated by the Pontiff, eight are foreigners and two are Italians. This is an indication of a great and profound evolution, which, unacknowledged by their own promulgators, modifies stage by stage, the constitutional ordering of the Church. When there was still temporal power in the Church, the Pope was wont to bend the stiff necks of the worlds princes, those under his spiritual power, and since Theo­cracy does not arbitrate, he governed his small kingdom with his ecclesiastics. The legates of Bologna, Ferrara and other cities of the Pontifical States reflected the splendour of the Pope-King, and were the great ones who aspired to the highest ecclesiastical offices.” The journal stated the opinion that the new Italian Cardinals were outshone by the foreign ones. “The temporal power of the Church having crumbled, the Papacy finds itself alone and even the principal Italian Cardinals have lost their small crown; the Papacy remains, but it finds itself needy of comfort from new sources, thus realising the universal spirit of faith which was realised by the strength which it had, before relinquishing its exercise of temporal power… Nowadays, all of the living and spiritual forces of Christianity must bulwark that Vatican with the vis­ible power that faith has on souls.”

Is this desirable? The journal does not answer, but makes the allusion: “But it is certain that this Cath­olicism, which has lost its temporal power, is rendered always more universal, is comforted by men of sterling worth chosen from all peoples, and being nourished by their best qualities, attains to a great vitality. That which is transformed does not die, but compensates for its diminished material life with new elements.”

The part that the thought and the teaching of Newman played and continues to exercise in this constant renewal is often noted. The effects of his influence every day become more ample and efficacious. It is not important to re­search the hypothesis which state that Leo XIII elevated Newman only on account of the merits accumulated by him in faithful service to the Church up to that point. Even if it were so, the action of the Pope has projected upon the figure of Newman and upon his work a light which can never be dimmed. To fully appreciate the act of the Pope not only serves to recognise the intellectual genius of the man, but also acknowledges the testimony ren­dered by him of a life of sanctity.

Certainly, this testimony renders account of the un­deniable qualities of Newman’s temperament and intelli­gence. He was always sustained by the conviction that not earthly honours, but a lived faith, the constant “sentire ecclesiam”, and the perfection of a Christian life, would lead to the “beata pacis visio”. During the last days of his life, Newman received his sister Jemima and a little nephew at Edgbaston. The child was cautioned not to fatigue the old man with questions. The boy, finally in the presence of the Cardinal and encouraged by him to do so, asked him one. He enquired, “What is greater, a Cardinal or a saint?” Smiling, Newman replied, “My child, a Car­dinal is of the earth and a saint is of heaven.”[48]

The genius and the sanctity of John Henry Newman do not only show forth the greatness of the man, but also the dignity and the ecclesiastical reason of the College of Cardinals of which he was, and remains, an incomparable light.


[1] Born in 1816, last child of the third Baron Talbot of Malahide, George Talbot pursued his studies at Eton and at St Mary’s Hall, Oxford. In 1842, he was re­ceived into the Catholic Church by (then) Bishop Wiseman. Or­dained a priest in 1846, he applied in the following year for admission to the Oratory, but Newman politely refused to accept him. With the support of Wiseman he became a Canon of St Peter’s and a Papal Chamber­lain. His behaviour in the Curia corresponds fundamen­tally to the opinion expressed in 1865 concerning him by Bishop Ullathorne of Birmingham, in a letter to His Grace, Archbishop-elect Manning of Westminster. Tal­bot was “good and hearted”, but showed a “notorious want of judgment”. Cf. C. BUTLER, The Life and Times of Bishop Ullathorne. 1806-1889, London 1926, II, p. 127. In 1886, he died in an asylum, at Passy, near Paris.

[2] Henry Edward Manning was born in London. His father was a wealthy banker. He studied at Harrow School and Balliol College, Oxford. In 1832, he was elected a Fellow of Merton College. He took Orders and became Vicar of Lavington. In 1837, he was left a widower after four years of tranquil married life. Later, overcoming an initial aversion, he came closer to the Oxford Movement at the time when Newman had already left it. On the 6th April, 1851, he was received into the Catholic Church. A few months later he was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Wiseman. He studied theology in Rome at the “Accademia dei Nobili Ecclesiastici”. In 1865, he succeeded Wiseman as Archbishop of Westminster. During the first Vatican Council, he was one of the ardent supporters of Papal Infallibi­lity. He is in great part responsible for the consoli­dation of the reorganisation of the Catholic Church in England. He died in London in 1892.

[3] “Dr Newman is the most dangerous man in England, and you will see that he will make use of the laity against Your Grace. You must not be afraid of him.” Talbot to Manning, April 25, 1867. Cf. W. WARD, The life of John Henry Cardinal Newman, London 1913, II, p. 147. To encourage Manning in his opposition to New­man, Talbot uttered these provocative words: “What is the province of the laity? To hunt, to shoot, to en­tertain. These matters they understand, but to meddle with ecclesiastical matters they have no right at all, and this affair of Newman is a matter purely ecclesi­astical”. Ibid., p. cit.

[4] WARD, o.c, II, p. 129.

[5] Alessandro Barnabò was born in Foligno in 1801. He was appointed Secretary of the Roman Congregation of Propaganda. In 1856, he was made a Cardinal and Prefect of the Congregation of Propaganda. He was not devoid of common sense and possessed a great canonical science. These qualities, however, were obscured by an amusing but improper attitude that could turn to triviality; he had a rough and ready character. He managed his Congregation with a firm hand. He was without any doubt one of the more remarkable Cardinals during the Pon­tificate of Pius IX. He died in 1874.

[6] Among them, Father Perrone especially deserves remem­bering. A professor of the Roman College, he was one of the most noted and authoritative theologians of his time.

[7] WARD, o.c. I, p. 578.

[8] On the relations of Leo XIII with the illustrious Archbishop cf. E. SODERINI, II pontificato di Leone XIII, Milano1932, I, pp. 291ff.

[9] Cf. R. SENCOURT, The Life of Newman, London 1948, p. 269; L. BOUYER, Newman. Sa vie. Sa spiritualité, Paris 1952, p. 478; J. ARTZ, Newmans Kardinalat. Aufschlüsse aus Hintergründen und Begleitumständen, in “Theologie und Philosophie”, 53 (1978), p. 226.

[10] Of the ducal family of the Norfolks, he was born in 1829 at Hainton (Nottingham) and studied at Oscott and Edingburgh. At first, he was an officer in the Second Life Guards. In 1854, he entered the English College in Rome and the same year was ordained priest. He became Archbishop of Neocesarea and Suffragan of Frascati as well as Vicar of St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. In 1877, he was elevated to the office of cardinal and in 1881, Archpriest of St Peters and Prefect of the Congregation of the “Fabbrica di S. Pietro”. In 1884, he chose the Suburbicarian See of Frascati. He was conciliatory in nature. He died in Brighton in 1892.

[11] WARD, o.c, II, p. 435.

[12] “This was perhaps the act of the Duke’s life that called forth in the fullest measure that quality of simple straightforward courage that was the secret of the high respect in which he was held, and of the great influence he wielded.” BUTLER, o.c, II, p. 108.

[13] “To Manning, the proposal must have come as a shock.” BUTLER, o.c, II, p. 108.

[14] The letter, composed by Manning in Italian, is prin­ted in an English translation in The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, edited at the Birming­ham Oratory with notes and an introduction by Char­les Stephen DESSAIN and Thomas GORNALL, S.J., vol. XXIX, Oxford 1976, Appendix I, pp. 423-424. Cf. al­so WARD, o.c,’ II, pp. 577-578.

[15] L. RIDDING, Sophia Matilda Palmer de Franqueville. 1852-1915. A Memoir, London 1919, p. 190. The Count­ess, daughter of Lord Selborne, was present at the audience.

[16] Letters and Diaries, XXIX, p. 16; cf. also WARD, o. c, II, p. 438; ARTZ, o.c, p. 222; BUTLER, o.c, II, p. 110.

[17] Letters and Diaries, XXIX, p. 16; WARD, o.c, II, p. 438; BUTLER, o.c, II, p. 110.

[18] Letters and Diaries, XXIX, p. 17; cf. BUTLER, o.c, II, pp. 110-111.

[19] Letters and Diaries, XXIX, p. 18; cf. BUTLER, o.c, II, pp. 111-112; WARD, o.c, II, pp. 439-440.

[20] Letters and Diaries, XXIX, pp. 19-20. Cf. WARD, o.c, II, pp. 440-442; E.S. PURCELL, Life of Cardinal Manning, Archbishop of Westminster, London 1896, II, pp. 558-559; BUTLER, o.c, II, pp. 112-113.

[21] Letters and Diaries, XXIX, p. 22. Still cooler is a note of the 4th February, in which he thanks Manning for forwarding the letter from Cardinal Nina and in which he informs Manning that he has answered the Secretary of State through Ullathorne. See also PURCELL, o.c, II, p. 560; BUTLER, o.c, II, p. 114.

[22] Also Ullathorne’s letter to Nina was written in Latin. Cf.- Letters and Diaries, XXIX, pp. 24-25. The letter of Norfolk to Manning is dated the 22nd February. Ibid. p. 23 in the footnote. The biographers do not agree on the date of Manning’s journey to Rome. Butler writes that the Archbishop left London on the 15th February, cf. o.c, II, p. 116. Ward does not give a precise date; cf. o.c, II, pp. 446. From a letter of Manning to Nina dated the 4th January 1879, which we came across in the Vatican Secret Archives, it is clear, that the invitation of Leo XIII reached Manning through Msgr. Stonor. Manning tells Nina that “two very serious matters cleared up”, he will set out on the journey to Rome, “towards the end of the month”. Arc Segretaria di Stato, 1879/R 2/32866. Another allusion to the journey to Rome is found in the already men­tioned letter of Nina to Manning of the end of Jan­uary, in which he expresses the intention of the Pope to create Newman a Cardinal. Nina speaks of the imminent arrival in Rome of the Archbishop of West­minster. Cf. Letters and Diaries, XXIX, p. 16. We must conclude then that the Cardinal left London no later than the first few days of February.

[23] In the letter, Manning also writes that the question of the residence is solved. Cf. WARD, o.c’., II, p. 446; BUTLER, o.c, II, p. 117.

[24] BUTLER, o.c , II, p. 118.

[25] PURCELL, o.c, II, pp. 306ff.

[26] BUTLER, o.c , II, p. 159-160.

[27] D. GORCE, Le martyre de Newman, Paris 1961, p. 215.

[28] Letters and Diaries, XXIX, p. 84. The English trans­lation follows. Nina’s letter is addressed to the “Rmo P. Giovanni Enrico Newman Prete dell’Oratorio di Londra”.

[29] Letters and Diaries, XXIX, p. 84. Cf, WARD, o.c, II, p. 450.

[30] U. YOUNG C.P., Life of Father Ignatius Spencer, Lon­don (1933), p. 119. See also Father Pius (DEVINE), Life of Father Ignatius of St.Paul, Passionist (The Hon. and Rev. George Spenser), Dublin and London 1866, p. 284.

[31] U. YOUNG, Life and Letters of the Venerable Father Dominic (Barberi), London 1926, p. 259; ‘FEDERICO dell’ADDOLORATA (P.) C.P., II Beato Domenico della Madre di Dio Passionista Mistico, Apostolo Scrittore. (1792-1849), 2 ed., Rome 1963, pp. 387, 401.

[32] Letters and Diaries, XXIX, p. 121. Cf. WARD, o.c, II, p. 458.

[33] Cardinals de Fürstenberg, Desprez, Haynald, Pie, Ferreira dos Santos Silva did not come to Rome. They would have received their Cardinal’s biretta from their respective sovereigns or heads of state. Con­sequently, only Cardinal Alimonda and the four Cardi­nal Deacons were present in Rome; but having fallen ill, even Alimonda was unable to participate in any of the consistories.

[34] We consider it unnecessary to recall the life and works of the two Cardinals. Fürstenberg was a zealous and beneficent Cardinal. To Desprez is due the founda­tion of the Catholic Institute of Tolouse. Alimonda above all was famous as an orator. The Corsican Zigliara enjoyed unquestioned authority especially within the Roman Curia, where he was known as a teacher and active as Consultor of various Congregations. Pecci, obviously, owed his Cardinal’s hat to the af­fection of his brother. He was sharp-witted but rather bizarre and unstable in character. Formerly a member of the Society of Jesus, he left them in 1848, only to re-enter as Cardinal in 1888, some two years before his death. Haynald was an extraordinarily charitable Bishop, as well as a zealous pastor. Like most of the Bishops in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he was an aulic, a court prelate. He gained parti­cular fame as an outstanding botanist. His herbarium, which took up five large rooms of the episcopal pal­ace, was among the most complete in the entire world. His specialised library was without rival.

[35] “Leider ist die Gesellschaft, in welcher mein trefflicher Pater Newman in das Kollegium eintritt, nicht die beste”. Cf. F. X. KRAUS, Tagebücher, hrsg. v. H. SCHIEL, Köln 1957, pp. 397f.

[36] ARTZ, o.c, p. 227.

[37] The precedence is due to the fact that Pecci and Hergenröther were both domestic prelates.

[38] The manuscript of the address, with the signature of Leo XIII, is kept in the Vatican Archives. The text has been corrected by a hand other than that of the original writer. One ought to believe that the cor­rection had been made immediately after the consi­story, because the L’Osservatore Romano of the 14th, which reproduced the Italian text of the address announced Newman as “Oratorian Priest of the Con­gregation of Birmingham” (Prete filippino della Congregazione di Birmingham”), while the preceding day, it had reproduced the Latin text in the terms cited by us. The statement: “presbyter… e Congregatione Londinensi” remained in the text published in the Acta Sanctae Sedis and in the successive collections of the Acts of Leo XIII. We have already mentioned that Nina too, in the letter of the end of January, in which he informs Manning about the decision of Leo XIII, calls Newman a member of the London Oratory. This mistake worried Newman immediately and he wanted to speak about it to the Pope himself in the farewell audience accorded him on the 2nd June. In the notes which Newman prepared in Latin (with a few Italian sen­tences) in view of this audience, we read: “Ho una preghiera da presentare alla Santità Vostra, se non sia troppo. Jam per viginti continuos annos, Officiales, qui negotia exequuntur Sacrae Congregationis de Propaganda Fide, confuse et temerarie egerunt de re­bus Oratorii Birminghamiensis et Oratorii Londinensis, quasi Oratoria haec unum corpus constituerint, cum sint duo, et utrumque habeat traditiones suas, agendi modos, opiniones, devotiones suas, et utrumque sit liberum et indipendenter agat in loco suo. Exempli gratia, dispensationes, petitae ab hoc Oratorio, concessae sunt aiteri, et variis modis incommoda ejus modi oriuntur. Unde querelae et simultates inter domum et domum.” In order to prevent further misun­derstandings, Newman asked Leo XIII that the Birming­ham Oratory be formally known by the Congregation of Propaganda Fide under the title “Oratorio del Cardinale (the Oratory of the Cardinal), “in memoriam benignissimi actus Sanctitatis Vestrae, quo dignatus es Praepositum illius Oratorii elevare ad Sacrum Collegium Cardinalium.” Cf. Letters and Diaries, XXIX, p. 135. In this regard, the confidential letter which Newman sent to the Duke of Norfolk on the 18th June is also significant. Cf. Letters and Diaries, XXIX, p. 142.

[39] WARD, o.c, II, p. 459. Cf. “Civiltà Cattolica”, vol. 10, 1879, fasc. 693, p. 35. On the 7th May, Newman had sent a note to Bishop Clifford, asking him to come and see him “prisoner in (…) bedroom with a bad cold”. Clifford made this note on the same paper, “This note was sent to me by Cardinal Newman to con­sult me about his address on receiving the biglietto. W.H. C.” Cf. Letters and Diaries, XXIX, p. 123.

[40] Cf. “L’Osservatore Romano”, “Voce della Verità”, etc., of the 14th and 15th May.

[41] “Civiltà Cattolica”, vol. cit;, 1879, fasc. cit., p. 35.

[42] “We feel that in making you a Cardinal, the Holy Father has not only given public testimony to his appreciation of your great merits, and of the value of your admirable writings in defence of God and his Church, but has also conferred the greatest possible honour on all English-speaking Catholics, who have long looked up to you as their spiritual Father, and as their Guide in the paths of holiness”. Cf. Speech of his Eminence Cardinal Newman, Rome 1879, p. 11.

[43] FEDERICO dell’ADDOLORATA (P.), o.c, p. 459.

[44] “He judged it would give pleasure to English Cath­olics, and even to Protestant England, if I received some mark of his favour.” Cf. Speech, cit. p. 6.

[45] Apparently, Leo XIII first wanted to give to Newman the Diaconia of S. Nicola in Carcere; but we have not found any confirmation of this in the documents. This Diaconia was given to Cardinal Hergenröther.

[46] Newman left Rome on the 4th June for Leghorn, where he stopped and rested until the 20th June. Recovered, he left for Genua on the 21st. He continued to Paris. On the 25th he was in Boulogne-sur-Mer, on the 27th in Folkestone, and on the 28th in Brighton, where he remained until the 30th, the day of his arrival in London.

[47] Letters and Diaries, XXIX, p. 430. Cf. also WARD, o. c, II, p. 473.

[48] BOUYER, o.c, p. 485.




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