John Henry Newman’s Changing Attitude to Infallibility Essay

John Henry Newman’s Changing Attitude to Infallibility Essay

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Examine John Henry Newman’s changing attitude to Infallibility, between the end of Vatican 1 in 1870 and Gladstone’s attack in 1875.

In this essay I propose to analyse Newman’s attitude to Infallibility during the period outlined above. I will examine his letters in particular to note the range of correspondents and the approaches taken. I will attempt to see a pattern in relation to his views expressed to mere enquirers writing to him, to national and professional writers seeking information or debating points and to family and friends in connection with the doctrine of Infallibility. Over this five-year period I will deduce from mainly primary sources, his views expressed on Infallibility and his developed reasoning and then present conclusions.

Firstly a short historical background to Victorian Britain will set the context. Mid-Victorian Britain saw political reform as a main agenda. There was an established order of churches, characterised by denomination but more telling, by social class, and a defined place in society. The plight of the poor and the devastating effects of industrialisation were not uppermost in the church’s role. These views were being challenged with an increasing secularisation of society, by movements set up to reform and give more people a voice in government, and questioning the relevance of the church. The church played a role in e.g. the Christian Socialist Movement, set up as much to control and limit reform as it was to assist the poor.
This was a time of expansion by the Catholic Church, since the re-establishment of the hierarch in 1850. Popular liberal attitudes questioned the loyalty of Catholics to the state and since the 1850’s newspapers and periodicals characterised this view as ...

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...ring 1982), pp. 86–88.
Rahner, K. ‘A Critique of Hans Kung’. Homiletic and Pastoral Review 71, May 1971, pp.10 – 26.

Schatz, K. Papal Supremacy: From its Origins to the Present. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1996, pp.151-162.
Strange, Roderick. John Henry Newman: A Mind Alive. London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2008.
Sugg, J. ed. A Packet of Letters: a selection of correspondence of John Henry Newman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983.
Tierney, B. Origins of Papal infallibility 1150 – 1350. (‘Studies in the History of Christian Thought’).Leiden: EJ Brill, 1972.
Ward, W. William George Ward and the Catholic Revival. London: Longmans Green andCo.1893, p.274. Accessed 9 March 2014:
Wolfe, J. Religion in Victorian Britain: Culture and Empire. Manchester: The Open University Press, 1997.

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