Friday, November 28, 2014

Edward Short on Ian Ker on Cardinal Newman on Vatican II

I purchased my copy of this book from OUP at Eighth Day Books this week--and had the pleasure of meeting an old acquaintance who promptly placed a copy of my book on his pile of purchases. I signed it after I made my purchase (and indeed that was the second copy of my book sold that day at Eighth Day Books!--if I'd arrived a few minutes earlier, I could have offered to sign that one too!)

Watch this space for the announcement of a fun event at Eighth Day Books next month combining Christmas and Chesterton!!

Anyway, as I start reading this major study, I've also read Edward Short's review of Father Ker's book in The Catholic World Report. 

To quote:

it is good to have so reliable an authority as Father Ian Ker sorting out what Newman would have truly thought of the Council. The author of the definitive intellectual biography of Newman and several other incisive books about the great convert, Father Ker is the perfect person to address this vexed matter and here he does so with acuity and élan. Newman and Vatican II is a superb study, which anyone with any interest in Newman or the Council will find richly rewarding.

Father Ker begins his study with an excellent overview of the subtlety of Newman’s thought, which so many commentators get wrong, choosing to see him either as a “Tory of Tories” (as Avery Dulles gave out) or a misunderstood liberal (as Eamon Duffy contended). In fact, as Father Ker shows, Newman was never a party man, whether in the political or the religious sense. . . .


For Father Ker, “Newman’s theology of the conscience and its relation to the teaching authority of the Church upholds the sovereignty but not the autonomy of the individual conscience.” In such elegant discriminations, one can see the command Father Ker has of his subject’s finely judicious thinking.

This is one reason why
Newman on Vatican II is such a vital read, though there is much else about the book to recommend it. Deeply researched and wonderfully well-written, it is full of insights that go to the very essence of both the Second Council and Newman. In his penultimate chapter, for example, “Secularization and the New Evangelization,” which includes a splendid reading of Newman’s neglected novel of conversion, Callista (1856), Father Ker shows how Newman both anticipates and exemplifies the genuine spirit of Vatican II by extolling the love of Christ that will always bind the faithful to Him and His Holy Church. Here, Father Ker also presents a portrait of the true Newman, in all his faithful caritas and wisdom, which will enlighten liberals and conservatives alike.

Read the rest here.

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