Friday, 26 November 2010

Patrimony & Newman

We know about the Holy Father's devotion to John Henry Newman; perhaps this passage from the Apologia planted the seeds of Anglicanorum Coetibus? In the final section of his Apologia he writes how "national influences have a providential effect in moderating the bias which the local influences of Italy may exert upon the See of Peter". "Catholicity", he says, "is not only one of the notes of the Church but... one of its securities". Yet after considering America and the influence of the French in the church there, he hopes that "all European races will ever have a place in the Church". Then he comes to the passage which attracted me especially:
"I think that the loss of the English, not to say the German element, in its composition has been a most serious misfortune. And certainly, if there is one consideration more than another which should make us English grateful to Pius the Ninth, it is that, by giving us a Church of our own, he has prepared the way for our own habits of mind, our own manner of reasoning, our own tastes, and our own virtues, finding a place and thereby a sanctification in the Catholic Church".
It seems to have been an awareness that, despite the restoration of the Hierarchy to England, Pius IX's objects have not been completely achieved which has encouraged Benedict XVI to complete that work. Many have been puzzled to discern just what is the Anglican Patrimony of which Anglicanorum Coetibus speaks. We could do worse than follow the lead of Blessed John Henry by determining to bring with us into the Ordinariate 'our own habits of mind, our own manner of reasoning, our own tastes, and our own virtues'. That will be far better than chasing down the blind alley of Prayer Book versus Sarum Use or of the English Missal versus the American Book of Divine Worship. Liturgy is a sideshow compared with the breadth of the Patrimony which Newman adumbrates.


  1. Many thanks!

    I note that Newman is taking about Englishness not Anglicanism.

    Is that something the rest of us are missing?

  2. To be honest John Henry Newman doesn't inspire me.

    He hasn't done anything incredibly saintly in my opinion. All he's really done is wrote a few books.

    I would much rather have Benedict bring someone like John Bradburne who became a pilgrim, caring for lepers and living off the land. That's what I call saintly and inspiring!

  3. OK, 'Editor', so you are unimpressed by Newman, the originator of the Oxford Movement to which, I'd guess, you owe so much. At great cost to himself he submitted to Rome when he saw the impossibility of making the C of E Catholic -a discovery which is only now dawning on many of us who have struggled over many years to get the C of E to live up to its claim (to be part of the One, Holy Catholic & Apostolic Church). You can be inspired by a Fr Damien, or a John Bradburne, and still find in Newman rather more than someone who "wrote a few books".