Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Compare and Contrast: More and Newman

The Catholic World Report has published my feature article on St. Thomas More and Blessed John Henry Newman on Conscience. I based this article on two of the talks I gave at the Spiritual Life Center's Summer Symposium on Conscience and Conversion:

St. Thomas More and Blessed John Henry Newman may not on first glance seem to be a good pairing: the twice-happily married lawyer and public servant and the celibate Oxford Fellow and Oratorian priest. The sixteenth century Catholic martyr and the nineteenth century convert and confessor; the witty teller of merry tales and the seemingly sensitive controversialist.

With a second glance, the viewer sees what they share: Both of them were born in London (actually in the City of London); both attended the University of Oxford; if More was “made for friendship” in Erasmus’s famous line, Newman selected “Cor ad cor loquitor” (Heart speaks to heart) for his motto as Cardinal, emphasizing the bonds of friendship and personal influence. They shared a desire for holiness and seeking out truth; they are both Catholic (More by birth and nurture in a Catholic family; Newman by adult conversion); More and Newman defended the truth with their pens, taking on the subjects of their day (heresy’s attack on Catholic teaching in More’s era; liberalism’s attack on religious truth in Newman’s).

Most importantly, for both of them, the true Catholic understanding of conscience was crucial in their lives. For More, following his conscience led him to martyrdom; for Newman, following his conscience led him to become a Catholic. More and Newman revealed their understanding of conscience’s purpose, authority, and source in defense of the authority of the Church’s magisterium and the role of the papacy in the Catholic Church. While they are often cited as defenders of individual conscience, they also stressed the source of conscience’s authority in each individual: God’s law, natural and revealed—and the Church’s role in teaching and defending that law.

Please read the rest there. I appreciate Father Juan Velez's recommendation that I submit the article to CWR!

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