Samstag, 22. August 2009

Newman for the nation

From THE TABLET, 1 August 2009)
Authorities in Rome have indicated that they want next year’s beatification of John Henry Newman to be conducted in Birmingham, his adopted city. This is a challenge that raises deeper questions – what is the real significance of Newman’s life and work; what is it that should be celebrated? [more...]

Jakob Knab commented that article in a Letter to the editor (

I was astonished when I came across your rather peculiar view that the event of Newman’s beatification was in the first place a “celebration of Newman’s Englishness, in which we all can take pride.”

As a matter of fact Cardinal Newman has got dedicated admirers worldwide – and these rightly judge his sanctity in the common tradition of the faithful. Newman himself discovered it in reading the fathers of the church, especially in the pages of Augustine of Hippo. “For a mere sentence, the words of St. Augustine, struck me with a power which I never had felt before. Securus judicat orbis terrarum!” (Newman, APOLOGIA, Ch. III)

On October 14, 1843 John Henry Newman confided in a letter to Archdeacon (later Cardinal) Henry Edward Manning: “If there ever was a case, in which an individual teacher has been put aside and virtually put away by a community, mine is one. It is felt that I am foreign material...”

I am writing to you as a German and I would like to point out that apart from our Holy Father Benedict XVI. (“Newman was our passion”) the following names deserve our attention: Johannes Oesterreicher, Edith Stein, Romano Guardini, Reinhold Schneider, Carl Muth, Theodor Haecker, Sophie Scholl. For them Newman’s theology of conscience was a guiding light.

When back in 2005 Cardinal Clemens August von Galen was beatified, no Catholic magazine came to the conclusion that this event was a celebration of Bishop von Galen’s “Deutschtum” (i.e. Germanness), in which we all can take pride. Jakob Knab, Kaufbeuren (Germany)