The Failures of Newman

Fr Peter Cornwell was the vicar of St Mary’s–the University Church at Oxford during my time there. He resigned, like Newman before him, to become a Catholic, and was one of the first married former Anglican priests in England.

Cornwell writes here on the failures and disappointments that Newman experienced in the Catholic Church. If you are not at once thrilled with the Catholic Church and find it all heavy going and difficult. Take heart. The great Newman was misunderstood, blocked, ostracized and undermined whenever he tried to do anything in the Catholic Church.

So take heart. What did you expect–a bed of roses or a crown of thorns?

  • Stephanie A. Mann

    We often forget that Newman knew many, many failures as an Anglican too! The entire great project of the Via Media, the Oxford Movement, his efforts as a Tutor to provide spiritual direction as well as academic guidance that forced him to resign as tutor at Oriel, the Hampden affair–all failures. I always take the greatest consolation in Blessed Newman's own statement that he know only peace of soul as a Catholic, however much other troubles may have hampered his efforts.

  • Joe

    I love how every type of behavior, whether luminous or dark, honorable or dishonorable, saintly or sinful, that goes on under the umbrella of Catholicism somehow validates it! All hail the power of insiders' logic!

  • veritas

    Joe, I have read Fr Cornwell's article, Fr Longenecker's introduction to it. I am puzzled as to where you get any reason for the comments you made. Neither of them attempted to justify the treatment Cardinal Newman received.Blessed John Henry suffered greatly, first in the Anglican Church, then in the Catholic Church, through the pettiness of fellow churchmen. One thing is for certain- he did not, as some falsely claim, regret becoming a Catholic. He recognized that the Church, beautiful as It is, is made up of sinners. But through it all shone his wonderful faith and his great intellect. Want to know what he really thought? Read, or better still, sing "Lead Kindly Light".

  • Fr Longenecker

    Joe–your logic invalidates your own statement.

  • Joe

    How's that Father? All I mean is that when something unsavory is mentioned from church history, most Catholics brush it aside and use it to validate the church's humanity or Jesus' assurance of suffering. On the other hand, when something great and triumphant is mentioned from church history, it's used to validate God's hand in the church. It's this kind of logic that turns people off, in that the church becomes above scrutiny, no matter what she does. ANY institution that is slow to self-reflect and quick to pat itself on the back will earn my jaundice eye every time. I'm not sure why you would find that unreasonable or illogical.

  • Estase

    Is this Fr. Cornwell any relation to the John Cornwell, slimer of Pius XII-cum-John Henry Newman biographer? I don't care how great Cornwell's Newman biography is, after the undocumented and salacious "Hitler's Pope," I wouldn't believe anything John Cornwell wrote.

  • Kapten Clark

    thank youI'm a CHN member, RCIA flunkie (still attend classes though)Protestant clergy married to Protestant clergy (SA) — double whammyanyway, I really need to hear your words of encouragement today!

  • Fr Longenecker

    Fr Peter Cornwell and the writer John Cornwell are not related.Joe–maybe some Catholics do as you say. I don't. I say acknowledge the human failures of the church and admit that Catholics have been failures.We acknowledge, however, God's grace working through our human failure. It is God's goodness–certainly not ours.