Friday, July 15, 2016

Happy Birthday to Henry Cardinal Manning

Henry Edward Manning, future Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, was born on July 15, 1808. Although influenced in some ways by John Henry Newman and the Oxford Movement to become a Catholic in 1851, Manning did not always appreciate Newman's personality, theology, or influence among English Catholics.

Cited on The Victorian Web, Lawrence Poston (from his book The Antagonist Principle: John Henry Newman and the Paradox of Personality. Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2014comments on the conflicts between Henry Cardinal Manning and John Henry Cardinal Newman:

Newman's vexed relationship with Henry Manning was not the least of the products of his Catholic years. Over the last century, Manning, on the whole (and with the exceptions of such balanced scholars as David Newsome and James Pereiro) has had a bad press. He was doubtless much that he has been accused of being—ambitious, devious, and politically motivated—and he has earned a reputation for equivocation, particularly in interpreting Newman's actions to the hierarchy. Certainly temperament had much to do with their differences. Manning was a well-informed man and no mean theologian. But he was a man of the world, not a cloistered university don, and his practical experience as an archdeacon in the Church of England had shown his capacity to manage men. He was an accomplished bureaucrat who moved naturally in the complexities of Vatican politics; Newman was not. Both men craved power, but Manning through authority, Newman through influence. Yet Manning was no stranger to the joys and sorrows of the human condition. The loss of his wife in the years before his own reception into the Roman Catholic Church was a source of continuing sorrow throughout his life, though he did not make a public display of his bereavements, and his intervention in the London Dock Strike (1889) demonstrated a political pragmatism quite beyond Newman's ken.

To Newman's principle of personality Manning posed the antagonist principle of bureaucracy as a way of containing gifted but excitable individuals who might disrupt ecclesiastical due process. Manning had small sympathy for theories of development, and even less interest in the role of the laity, whom he famously dismissed as fit for hunting and fishing* but not for theological disputation [sic]. He was decisive where Newman was hesitant, but a virtue of his limitations as well as a consequence of his power was that he found it easier to eschew grudges. As John Page has noted, Newman's intellectual response to the papal claims was indirect, veering and tacking, in short (to take a term from Ian Ker)unscholastic, because his personality was "careful, tolerant, and given to second thoughts" (Page 421), while his historical method elevated inference over logic. His argument in counseling troubled Catholics was that confession did not demand adherence to a specific definition de fide as long as they had made an active avowal of faith in the Church's teaching. This would have struck Manning as worse than hairsplitting; it was a failure of loyalty and indeed of nerve.

More deeply, the two men held different beliefs on how one comes to religious faith. Newman's
Grammar of Assent . . . was the product of a patient mind disentangling, over many years, the intricate processes by which individuals come to belief: how the reason cooperates, through the accumulation of probabilities, in the task of finding certitude. Manning’s idea of certainty (not the same as Newman's "certitude") amounted to a rejection of the Butlerian theory of probability that Newman had embraced years before, and Manning's interpretation of the Catholic position was that right reason "leads us to the fact of a Divine Teacher; but thenceforward His voice, and not our balancing of probabilities, will be the formal motive of the faith." The Church's witness was not only "human and historical" but "supernatural and divine." Thus, "My faith terminates no longer in a cumulus of probabilities, gathered from the past, but upon the veracity of a Divine Power guiding me with His presence" (Manning 75-76). This standard, enunciated three years before the appearance of the Grammar of Assent, was surely behind Manning’s belief that Newman had never really left off being an Anglican at heart. [218-19]

*While Manning might have agreed with this dismissal, I think that Poston has attributed this comment incorrectly. Monsignor George Talbot wrote to Manning, after Newman had written his famous article in The Rambler on "Consulting the Laity in Matters of Doctrine":
What is the province of the laity? To hunt, to shoot, to entertain? These matters they understand, but to meddle with ecclesiastical matters they have no right at all, and this affair of Newman is a matter purely ecclesiastical…. Dr. Newman is the most dangerous man in England, and you will see that he will make use of the laity against your Grace.
When Newman was beatified in 2010 Robert Gray wrote in The Spectator, comparing and contrasting Manning and Newman:

Newman and Manning did have one thing in common: they had both been born into evangelical families. At Oxford, however, Newman soon came to detest the smugness and vulgarity of those who claimed intimate converse with the Almighty. More pertinently, he apprehended that an ill-defined mishmash of individual enlightenment, pious sentiment and good works could never stand against the secularising tendencies of the times.

If Christianity were to survive (and Newman was quite prepared to concede that it might not), Christians must have firmly and objectively fixed propositions into which to fasten their mental hooks. In a word, they required dogma, which could only be delivered by a divinely appointed Church.

To the young Henry Manning, preaching the Word to a rustic congregation at Lavington in Sussex, such teaching appeared as manna in the desert. How infinitely more satisfying, for a temperament attracted to power, to stand before his humble flock as a successor of the Apostles than as a mere expositor of biblical texts.

Yet while Manning followed Newman in theology, he retained throughout his life an evangelical sympathy for the outcast. Newman, on the other hand, was in general far too obsessed by the eternal drama to bestow much time or notice upon the sufferings of this world.

Read the rest there, especially as Gray comments on all the good work Henry Manning did as Archbishop of Westminster:

His first duty, he judged, was to the Irish in London, in danger of being lost to the Church in the slums of the capital. By the time of his death in 1892 more than 10,000 extra places had been provided in parish elementary schools. He also succeeded, with the help of his friend William Gladstone, in extricating thousands of Catholic children from Protestant workhouses, so that by 1884 not a single one was left therein.

At the same time he developed orphanages and reformatories for neglected children. After the Education Act of 1870, he raised funds to ensure that Catholic schools did not fall under the rule of godless local boards of education. Later he played an important role in establishing the principle that denominational, or ‘voluntary’ schools should be financed from the rates on the same basis as board schools.

Whereas the Oxford Movement converts who followed Newman into the Catholic Church may be measured in hundreds, those whom Manning saved for Rome must be numbered in tens of thousands. Catholic intellectuals, however, have rarely found the Archbishop’s social labours as compelling as Newman’s exquisite disquisitions on the nature of faith or on the evolution of his religious opinions.

That last comment is echoed by the author of the CTS Biography of Cardinal Manning, pictured above, as I've posted before.

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