John Henry Newman (1801-1890) is among a handful of religious figures of the 19th century whose influence today remains broad and ongoing. As a leading Anglican churchman, Newman created a stir when he entered the Roman Catholic Church in 1845 and was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest. Newman's critical mind and openness to the modern world put him at odds with the starkly conservative spirit of the Catholic church in his day, and he endured much criticism throughout his life.
With precision and insight Newman explored the development of doctrine and the function of a Catholic university, and he championed the rights of conscience, the role of the laity, and the interplay of intuition along with reason in the life of faith. Though ahead of his time in many ways, he was named a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII, and his influence helped shape the church of the twentieth century, so much so that Pope Paul VI called Vatican II "Newman's Council." In 2010 he was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI.
The writings selected here trace Newman's spiritual journey in tandem with the principal events of his life, offering a unique glimpse into the life and thought of one of Catholicisms true modern giants.
Rev. John T. Ford, CSC, is professor of theology and religious studies at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. He is the editor-in-chief of Newman Studies Journal, and has served as president of the North American Academy of Ecumenists and the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches.
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