That non-Catholic beliefs about Mary are not able to stand on the Fathers

May 13, 2023 • 2 min

From St. John Henry Newman’s Letter to Dr. Pusey in reply to his Eirenicon, page 131
By St. John Henry Newman

Note C. page 53.

I have allowed that several great Fathers of the Church, of the fourth and fifth centuries, speak of the Blessed Virgin in terms, which we never should think of using now, and which at first sight are inconsistent with the belief and sentiment concerning her, which I have ascribed to their times. These Fathers are St. Basil, St. Chrysostom, and St. Cyril of Alexandria; and the occasion of their so speaking is furnished by certain passages of Scripture, on which they are commenting.

It may in consequence be asked of me, why I do not take these three, instead of St. Justin, St. Irenaeus, and Tertullian, as my authoritative basis for determining the doctrine of the primitive times concerning the Blessed Mary: why, instead of making St. Irenæus, &c. the rule, and St. Basil, &c. the exception, I do not make the earlier Fathers the exception, and the later the rule. Since I do not, it may be urged against me that I am but making a case for my own opinion, and playing the part of an advocate.

Now I do not see that it would be illogical or nugatory, though I did nothing more than make a case; indeed I have worded myself in my Letter as if I wished to do little more. For as much as this is surely to the purpose, considering the majority of Anglicans have a supreme confidence that no case whatever can be made in behalf of our doctrine concerning the Blessed Virgin from the ancient Fathers. I should have gained a real point, if I did any thing to destroy this imagination; but I intend to attempt something more than this. I shall attempt to invalidate the only grounds on which any teaching contrary to the Catholic can be founded on Antiquity.

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