The Truth Will Set You Free

FAITH Magazine July-August 2010

Cardinal Newman on Church Authority

The supremacy of conscience is the essence of natural religion; the supremacy of the Apostle, or Pope, or Church, or Bishop is the essence of revealed religion. Development of Doctrine, 1846

Three centuries ago, and the Catholic Church, that great creation of God's power [...was] blotted out. ... The vivifying principle of truth, the shadow of St. Peter, the grace of the Redeemer, left it... Truth was disposed of, and shovelled away and there was a calm, a silence, a sort of peace. Second Spring sermon 1852

There is the infallible, keen-sighted, unwearied, undaunted, tribunal in the background, undaunted amid all worldly troubles and reverses, to inspire a salutary awe into the shufflers and to animate Christ's little ones. An 1847 letter to Henry Wilberforce

Deeply do I feel, ever will I protest, for I can appeal to the ample testimony of history to bear me out, that, in questions of right and wrong, there is nothing really strong in the whole world, nothing decisive and operative, but the voice of him, to whom have been committed the keys of the kingdom and the oversight of Christ's flock. The voice of Peter is now, as it ever has been, a real authority, infallible when it teaches, prosperous when it commands, ever taking the lead wisely and distinctly in its own province, adding certainty to what is probable, and persuasion to what is certain. Before it speaks, the most saintly may mistake; and after it has spoken, the most gifted must obey. ... If there ever was a power on earth who had an eye for the times, who has confined himself to thepracticable, and has been happy in his anticipations, whose words have been deeds, and whose commands prophecies, such is he in the history of ages, who sits from generation to generation in the Chair of the Apostles, as the Vicar of Christ and Doctor of His Church. Cathedra Sempiterna 1852

They say, in the words of Chillingworth, "There are popes against popes, councils against councils, some fathers against others, the same fathers against themselves, a consent of fathers of one age against a consent of fathers of another age, the Church of one age against the Church of another age:" ... I shall admit that there are in fact certain apparent variations in its teaching ... I shall attempt to explain them to the exculpation of that teaching in point of unity, directness, and consistency Introduction to the Development of Doctrine, 1846

Every consideration and the fullest time should be given to those who have to make up their minds to hold an article of faith which is new to them. To take up at once such an article, may be the act of a vigorous faith, but it may also be the act of a man who will believe anything because he believes nothing, and is ready to profess whatever his ecclesiastical, that is his political, party requires of him. There are too many high ecclesiastics in Italy and England, who think that to believe is as easy as to obey - that is, they talk as if they did not know what an act of faith is. A German who hesitates may have more of the real spirit of faith than an Italian who swallows. I have never myself had a difficulty about the Pope's Infallibility, but that is no reason why I should forget Lukexvii. 1. Letter shortly after 1870 Vatican I definition of Papal Infallibility

The sense of the faithful is not left out of the question by the Holy See among the preliminary acts of defining a doctrine. ... And when, before the formal definition, [the Pope] enumerates the various witnesses to the apostolicity of the doctrine ... the Church teaching and the Church taught are put together as one twofold testimony, illustrating each other, and never to be divided. ... when she cuts off the faithful from the study of her divine doctrines and the sympathy of her divine contemplations, and requires from them fides implicita in her word, [this] in the educated classes will terminate in indifference, and in the poorer in superstition. On Consulting the Faithful in matters of Doctrine, 1859

Unless a man is able to say to himself, as in the Presence of God, that he must not, and dare not, act upon the Papal injunction, he is bound to obey it, and would commit a great sin in disobeying it. Prima facie it is his bounden duty, even from a sentiment of loyalty, to believe the Pope right and to act accordingly. ... He must have no wilful determination to exercise a right of thinking, saying, doing just what he pleases. 1874 Letter to the Duke of Norfolk

The freedom of the human mind ... meddles with every question, and wanders over heaven and earth, except so far as the authority of the Divine Word, as a superincumbent weight, presses it down, and restrains it within limits. Difficulties of Anglicans, 1850

If it is the duty of the Church to act as "the pillar and ground of the Truth," she is manifestly obliged from time to time, and to the end of time, to denounce opinions incompatible with that truth, whenever able and subtle minds in her communion venture to publish such opinions. ... In a Catholic's mind ... to believe in her word is virtually to believe in them all. Even what he cannot understand ... he believes it to be true because he believes in the Church. Grammar of Assent, 1870, Ch. 5 sec. 3

Shall the Church of God [... forget] "Woe is unto me if I preach not the Gospel"? Are her ministers by their silence to bring upon themselves the Prophet's anathema, "Cursed is he that doth the work of the Lord deceitfully"? Grammar of Assent 1870, Ch. 5 sec. 2

And I hold in veneration, for the love of him alone,
Holy Church as his creation, and her teachings as his own.

Fourth verse of the hymn "Firmly I believe and truly", from the 1865 poem "Dream of Gerontius" - this verse is expunged from the version printed in the official breviary for Australia, Ireland, England and Wales. Collins, 1974, hymn no. 37

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