At Rorate there is an extract from a text that the late, great – and already deeply missed – Carlo Card. Caffarra would have delivered to a conference in Milan on 10 Sept 2017.
Some time ago, there fell into my hands the text that he would have delivered to a conference in London in October 2017. The topic was to be “John Henry Newman and Moral Conscience”.
Here is an extract, in my translation:
On the morning of 12 May 1897, Newman received the official communication that Pope Leo XIII had created him a Cardinal, having received the proposal from many English lay people, in primis the Duke of Norfolk. Newman expressed his gratitude to the Holy Father with a brief discourse, which has passed into history as the “Biglietto Speech”.
The text is of extraordinary importance in order both to grasp wholly Newman’s spiritual journey, as well as to grasp his thought. I wanted that this marvelous text should conclude my reflection.
Giving an account of his life, he wrote:
For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. … Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily. It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are matters of opinion. … Men may go to Protestant Churches and to Catholic, may get good from both and belong to neither.”
It is in the liberal principle that Newman individuates the principle factor of the reduction of the conscience to a simple personal opinion, which nobody has the authority to judge.
Before this counterfeiting of conscience, what must we do? Newman’s response is the following:
“Christianity has been too often in what seemed deadly peril, that we should fear for it any new, trial now. So far is certain; on the other hand, what is uncertain, and in these great contests commonly is uncertain, and what is commonly a great surprise, when it is witnessed, is the particular mode by which, in the event, Providence rescues and saves His elect inheritance. … Commonly the Church has nothing more to do than to go on in her own proper duties, in confidence and peace; to stand still and to see the salvation of God….. Mansueti hereditabunt terram et delectabuntur in multitudine pacis … “The meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace” (Ps 37:11).