Newman in the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Newman is one of very few who are not canonized saints to be quoted in the Cathechism. Aside from a few of the early ecclesiastical writers (Tertullian and Origen, for example) he is probably the most quoted of all such authorities. This fact certainly bears witness to the profound and positive influence he has had on theological development in the Church in the twentieth century. The Catechism puts before us some of his favorite and most influential themes, including faith, conscience and religious sentiment, with examples both from his writing and his preaching:

157 Faith is certain . It is more certain than all human knowledge because it is founded on the very word of God who cannot lie. To be sure, revealed truths can seem obscure to human reason and experience, but "the certainty that the divine light gives is greater than that which the light of natural reason gives."(31) "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt."(32)


31. St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 171, 5, obj. 3.
32. John Henry Cardinal Newman, Apologia pro vita sua (London: Longman, 1878), 239.

1723 The beatitude we are promised confronts us with decisive moral choices. It invites us to purify our hearts of bad instincts and to seek the love of God above all else. It teaches us that true happiness is not found in riches or well-being, in human fame or power, or in any human achievement -- however beneficial it may be -- such as science, technology and art, or indeed in any creature, but in God alone, the source of every good and of all love:

"All bow down before wealth. Wealth is that to which the multitude of men pay an instinctive homage. They measure happiness by wealth; and by wealth they measure respectability... It is a homage resulting from a profound faith... that with wealth he may do all things. Wealth is one idol of the day and notoriety is a second... Notoriety, or the making of a noise in the world -- it may be called 'newspaper fame' -- has come to be considered a great good in itself, and a ground of veneration."(24)


24. John Henry Cardinal Newman, "Saintliness the Standard of Christian Principle", in Discourses to Mixed Congregations (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1906) V, 89-90.

1778 Conscience is a judgement of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right. It is by the judgement of his conscience that man perceives and recognizes the prescriptions of the divine law:

"Conscience is a law of the mind; yet [Christians] would not grant that it is nothing more; I mean that it was not a dictate, nor conveyed the notion of responsibility, of duty, of a threat and a promise... [Conscience] is a messenger of him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by his representatives. Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ."(50)


50. John Henry Cardinal Newman, "Letter to the Duke of Norfolk," V, in Certain Difficulties felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching II (London: Longmans Green, 1885), 248.

2144 Respect for his name is an expression of the respect owed to the mystery of God himself and to the whole sacred reality it evokes. The sense of the sacred is part of the virtue of religion:

"Are these feelings of fear and awe Christian feelings or not?... I say this, then, which I think no one can reasonably dispute. They are the class of feelings we should have -- yes, have to an intense degree -- if we literally had the sight of Almighty God; therefore they are the class of feelings which we shall have, if we realize His presence. In proportion as we believe that He is present, we shall have them; and not to have them, is not to realize, not to believe that He is present."(75)


75. John Henry Cardinal Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons V, 2 (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1907) 21-22.

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