Excerpt from a conference Card. Caffarra was slated to give

carlo_card_caffarraAt 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).


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  1. ALDU says:

    I was privileged to hear Cardinal Caffarra last May in Rome at a conference organised by Voice of the Family. He spoke in Italian which I do not speak; I prepared myself to endure a long 40 minutes but those in the audience who wished it were given a English translation to read as he spoke. I was captivated by his talk a copy of which can be found on the Voice of the Family website at https://tinyurl.com/y7s924l8. His humour, humility and intelligence were all plain to see and hear and his deep faith was uppermost in everything he said. It is so sad to hear of his death. May he rest in peace.

  2. Ave Crux says:

    While I find this very beautiful and believe that God is all-powerful, the great, GREAT drama and reality of salvation is that “God cannot [will not] save us without ourselves…” I believe Saint Augustine said that.

    Ever since learning about the message of Fatima over 40 years ago, I have been haunted daily and at every moment in the course of my life by the words of Our Lady: “Many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray and make sacrifices for them…

    It is the reality of this drama and battle for souls that pursues me daily, as I see the hierarchy leading so many deeper and deeper into moral confusion and error.

    The truth is that God – all powerful though He is – leaves, by His economy and by some mysterious design, the Eternal outcome and destiny of many Souls to the earnest labor and sacrifices of the Church, her ministers, and the faithful.

    No one will ever be able to destroy the Church. But the devil is having a hayday in destroying souls by the neglect and perfidy of her ministers, and the somnolence of the faithful.

  3. RichR says:

    Newmann is always refreshing to the soul.

  4. Wallace says:

    Does anyone know if the entire talk prepared for the conference has been translated into English? Many thanks.

  5. Wallace says:

    I am also looking for an English translation of a talk read in Milan on September 10 written by Cardinal Caffarra,”The Reconstruction of the Human” on the Day of “La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana”.

  6. Semper Gumby says:

    Thanks Fr. Z for these several recent posts on Cdl. Caffarra. He will be missed.

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