Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Catholic Cardinal Newman's Opinion of Anglicanism

The following excerpts are from my upcoming book of quotations from Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman: The Quotable Newman: Theology and Church History. Note especially the remarkable letter of 3 July 1848.

* * * * *

If I must specify what I mean by ‘Anglican principles,’ I should say e.g. taking Antiquity, not the existing Church, as the oracle of truth; and holding that the Apostolical Succession is a sufficient guarantee of sacramental Grace, without union with the Christian Church throughout the world. I think them the firmest, strongest bulwark against Rome – that is if they can be held. They have been held by many, and are far more difficult to refute than those of any other religious body. For myself, I found I could not hold them. I left them. From the time I began to suspect their unsoundness, I ceased to put them forward – when I was fairly sure of their unsoundness, I gave up my Living. When I was fully confident that the Church of Rome was the only true Church, I joined it. I have felt all along that Bishop Bull’s theology was the only theology on which the English Church could stand – I have felt that opposition to the Church of Rome was part of that theology; and that he who could not protest against the Church of Rome was no true divine in the English Church. I have never said, nor attempted to say, that any one in office in the English Church, whether Bishop or incumbent, could be otherwise than in hostility to the Church of Rome.

(LD xi, 27-28; Letter to Samuel Wilks, 8 November 1845)

Again in what sense are Rome and England one body in which the Church of England and Methodism may not be proved one body? . . . I hold it impossible that you should remain in this half and half position, believing one thing on the same ground, on which you reject another. . . . when I admit that the English Church is in schism, I see a mass of facts confirmatory of it – its disorganized state of belief – its feebleness to resist heretics – its many changes – its freezing coldness. And on the other hand I have the portentous, the awful vitality of Rome. That is an overpowering confirmatory argument.

(LD xi, 175; Letter to Henry Wilberforce, 8 June 1846)

. . . as a whole, he [Pusey] is not reviving any thing that ever was any where for 1800 years. There is a tradition of High Church and of Low Church – but none of what now is justly called Puseyism.

(LD xii, 157; Letter to Henry Wilberforce, 19 January 1848)

. . . disunion in the Anglican Church is just what prejudices men of the world against it and makes it contemptible. They do not take hold of the possibility that one party in it may be contending for a truth against the other. The disunion is its condemnation . . .

(LD xii, 159-160; Letter to Frederick Lucas, 20 January 1848)

The thought of Anglicanism with nothing fixed or settled, with Bishop contradicting Bishops within, and the whole world against it, without, is something so dreary and wretched, that I cannot speak of it without the chance of offence to those who still hold it.

(LD xii, 168; Letter to A. J. Hanmer, 10 February 1848)

. . . the hollowness of High Churchism (or whatever it is called) is to me so very clear that it surpises me, (not that persons should not see it at once), but that any should not see it at last, and, alas, I must add that I do not think it safe for any one who does see it, not to act on his conviction of it at once. . . . I do not disguise that Catholicism is a different religion from Anglicanism . . . that religion which the Apostles introduced and which was in the world long before the Reformation was dreamed of . . .

(LD xii, 223-225; Letter to Mrs. William Froude, 16 June 1848)

. . . the Anglican and the Catholic are two religions. I have professed both, and must know better than those who have professed one only . . . This being so, it is a mere deceit, I fully think, to suppose that the difference between Catholics and Anglicans is, that one believes a little more, and the other a little less; and therefore that they could unite. The religions never could unite; they never could be reconciled together . . . because they proceed on different ideas; and, if they look in certain external aspects alike, or have doctrines in common, yet the way in which those doctrines are held, and the whole internal structure in the two religions is different; so that, even what a person has before he is a Catholic, being grafted on a new stiock, becomes new, and he is like a Jew become Christian. . . . the Anglo-catholic scarcely exists out of books, or in a hundred parsonages scattered through the land, and has had no continuous life or succession. Next, consider the vast difference between believing in a living authority, unerring because divine, in matters of doctrine, and believing none; -- between believing what an external authority defines, and believing what we ourselves happen to define as contained in Scripture and the Fathers, where no two individuals define quite the same set of doctrines . . . In the one case, the living authority, deciding in controversies of faith, is the Church, in the other (whatever men pretend,) it is we ourselves who are the ultimate authority.

(LD xii, 234-235; Letter to E. J. Phipps, 3 July 1848)

I am much obliged to you for giving me the opportunity of setting right the misconception which is in circulation of the light in which I view the Anglican Church. . . . I respect and love the good men who belong to it; I have no wish to speak of it, but if I am forced to speak, by being misrepresented, I cannot help saying that I do not think the established Church is better off, as regards the Sacraments, than other non-Catholic bodies which have not renounced baptism. God’s grace doubtless may be vouchsafed at his will both th Anglicans and to Protestants; and that I certainly may have said; but vouchsafed in order to bring them towards the Catholic Church; in this way it is doubtless given to one and the other; but in each case in order to draw them off from what they are; and if it does not do this to Anglicans as well as Protestants, it does not answer the purpose for which it is given. No wonder I say this, considering I have the greatest misgivings of the validity of Anglican orders . . . If the Anglican Church has not orders, it has no Eucharist . . .

(LD xii, 249; Second Letter to Robert Monteith, 21 July 1848)

. . . Dr Pusey . . . cannot name the individual for 1800 years who has ever held his circle of doctrines; he cannot first put down his own creed, and then refer it to doctor, or school before him. . . . I want to know what single individual that ever belonged to the Anglican Church does he follow. Not Laud, for Laud on the scaffold avowed himself an honest Protestant; not Hooker, for he gives up the Real Presence; not Taylor for he blames both the Athanasian and Nicene Creeds; not Bull for he considers that Transubstantiation ‘bids defiance to all the reason and sense of mankind;’ not Ussher, for he was a Calvinist; not Jewell, for he gave up the Priesthood; nor the Articles, for Dr P. puts an interpretation on them; nor the Prayer book, for he believes about twice as much as the Prayer Book contains. Who before him ever joined the circle of Roman doctrine to the Anglican ritual and polity? . . . converts smile at confession in the Anglican Church; -- they smile, not at those who religiously take part in the ordinance, but at those who out of their own heads invent rites or ceremonies, or again, who borrow the rites, while they disown the authority of the Catholic Church.

(LD xii, 273-274; Letter to Catherine Ward, 25 September 1848)

Now, if we are advocates of doctrines, however true, with no authority to back us, it is the story of the Oxford Tracts over again – we shall be in a false position . . .

(LD xii, 278; Letter to Frederick W. Faber, 4 October 1848)

. . . nor do I think he nor any other anglo-catholic would submit to put down his entire creed on paper, and lay it before the world.

(LD xii, 290; Letter to Catherine Ward, 12 October 1848)

. . . those of its members who are what is called Evangelical, and those who are Liberals, cause a re-action in favour of Catholicism, and those, who take the high line of Dr Pusey, are but educating souls for a communion holier and truer than their own.

(LD xxxii, 277; Letter to C. C. Catcliffe, 6 January 1867)

Be sure there is as much chance of my turning an Anglican again as of my being . . . the King of Clubs. . . . the Anglican Church is . . . a mere collection of men, a mere national body, a human society. . . . [I would be] the most asinine, as well as the most ungrateful of men, if I left that Gracious Lord who manifests Himself in the Catholic Church, for those wearisome Protestant shadows, out of which of His mercy he has delivered me.

(LD xxv, 200; Letter to an Anglo-Catholic friend in August [?] 1870; cited in Ker, 656-657)

It is undeniable that the Anglican Church has retained large portions of the Catholic doctrine and ritual; so far forth as it has done so, of course it will be called anti-Christian by those who call Rome pure Antichrist.

(Ess. ii, sec. XI, footnote 2 from 1871)

I have said that these Lectures are "more or less" directed against points in Catholic teaching, and that I should consider "how far," because it must be borne in mind that the formal purpose of the Volume was, not an attack upon that teaching, but the establishment of a doctrine of its own, the Anglican Via Media. It only indirectly comes into collision with the theology of Rome. That theology lay in the very threshold of the author's experiment; he came across it, whether he would or no, and, while he attacked it at considerable length in its details, he adopted its main principles and many of its conclusions; and, as obliterating thereby or ignoring the very rudiments of Protestantism, he acted far more as an assailant of the religion of the Reformation than of what he called "Popery." . . . large portions of these Lectures are expositions, nay, recommendations of principles and doctrines, recognized in the Catholic Church . . . the Via Media, . . . a doctrine, wanting in simplicity, hard to master, indeterminate in its provisions, and without a substantive existence in any age or country. . . . I readily grant in particular that there is much truth in Anglican teaching, and that, so far, it does and will, while it lasts, powerfully affect the multitude of men, to whom it comes; but I cannot allow to the Church of England itself what is true of much of its teaching and many of its teachers, for that teaching and those teachers, who are so effective, know nothing of the Via Media.

(VM i, Preface to the Third Edition, 1877)

. . . he found in early history a veritable Via Media in both the Semi-Arian and the Monophysite parties, and they, as being heretical, broke his attachment to middle paths.

(VM i, Introduction; footnote 3 from 1877)

Baptism marks individuals with an indelible character; but what spiritual promises have been made from heaven to the Anglican Church, as such? . . . The Almighty chose the race of Abraham to be His people, in a sense in which He has not chosen the Anglo-Saxons. We cannot argue from Jerusalem to Canterbury and York. . . . where is any promise of divine Providence to the Anglican communion, when visibly separated from the visible Catholic Church?

(VM i, Lecture 14; footnotes 4, 7, and 12 from 1877)

It is a body altogether cut off from the Church. It not only denounces the Holy See, but it has allied itself with Protestantism. Its highest Churchmen have looked favourably on the Nestorians and Monophysites. It allows its Clergy to preach all manner of false doctrines, to deny the grace of baptism, to treat the Holy Eucharist as a mere outward rite, and to make light of the necessity of ordination. It cannot interpret its own formulas and definitions, and it cannot say what it holds and what it does not hold. Therefore I cannot concern myself with the question of the validity of its orders.

(LD xxxii, 385; Letter to an Unknown Correspondent; undated, but thought [by the editors] to be from either December 1878 or January 1879)

A barrister, a dear friend of mine was converted to the Catholic Church, because, he said, the Church of England had taken the step of leaving the great Catholic body, and its first duty was to come back again. So I say now – the move toward union, must first be taken by the party who committed the schism. When some Anglican ecclesiastic of name can be found to come to us and say he wishes, and is empowered, to lay before the Holy Father the repentant feelings existing and growing in the Church of England for the deeds of the 16th century, I shall receive the tidings with great joy and thankfulness.

(LD xxxii, 468; Letter to an Unknown Correspondent, 18 September 1885)


Ess. ii Essays Critical and Historical, vol. 2 (1840-1842, 1846 / 1871; London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1907)

Ker [Ian Ker]: John Henry Newman: A Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988)

LD xi The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, Vol. XI: Littlemore to Rome: October 1845 to December 1846 (edited by Charles Stephen Dessain, London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1961)

LD xii The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, Vol. XII: Rome to Birmingham: January 1847 to December 1848 (edited by Charles Stephen Dessain, London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1962)

LD xxv The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, Vol. XXV: The Vatican Council, January 1870 to December 1871 (edited by Charles Stephen Dessain, Oxford University Press, USA, 1974)

LD xxxii The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, Vol. XXXII: Supplement (edited by Francis J. McGrath, Oxford University Press, USA, 2008)

VM i The Via Media of the Anglican Church: Illustrated in Lectures, Letters and Tracts Written Between 1830 and 1841, vol. 1; aka Lectures on the Prophetical Office of the Church (1837 / 1877; London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 3rd edition, 1901)


Wil said...

Hi Dave,

Are you still selling the downloadable bundle of your .pdf books? I have attempted to buy it through the links on this blog, and payloadz appears to be down or no longer functional. I'd still be interested in buying them from you at the listed $40 price.


Wil said...

Oh, and sorry for using the blog comments to post this... I couldn't find any email addresses listed to contact you through. Thanks again!

Dave Armstrong said...

Still am, Wil, yep. 21 for $40. It was probably a temporary problem, or maintenance. I just checked it and it worked. Here is a direct link to Payloadz, for purchase:


Thanks for reading and God bless!

Wil said...

Many thanks, Dave... just downloaded all of them and look forward to devouring them!

Good bless,

Wil said...

God Bless, that is =)

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks very much. :-) I hope you are edified.

Paulo said...


I would like to show you PRAY, a free and open source application to:

* learn to pray The Holy Rosary, The Chaplet of The Divine Mercy etc..
* meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary listening to Bible readings
* meditate with beautiful depictions of the mysteries
* count the prayers using an on-screen virtual Rosary

Thank you.

Paul said...

Brilliant quotes. I love Newman and may just have to pick this book up!