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Further reasons why this letter was written

3 min • Digitized on April 30, 2023

From A Defense of the Teachings of Mary, page 18
By St. John Henry Newman

4. So much for Tract 90. On the other hand, as to my hypothesis of Doctrinal Development, I am sorry to find you do not look upon it with friendly eyes; though how, without its aid, you can maintain the doctrines of the Holy Trinity and Incarnation, and others which you hold, I cannot, understand.

You consider my principle may be the means, in time to come, of introducing into our Creed, as portions of the necessary Catholic faith, the Infallibility of the Pope, and various opinions, pious or profane, as it may be, about our Blessed Lady.

I hope to remove your anxiety as to these consequences, before I bring my observations to an end; at present I notice it as my apology for interfering in a controversy which at first sight is no business of mine.

5. I have another reason for writing; and that is, unless it is rude in me to say so, because you seem to think writing does not become me, as being a convert. I do not like silently to acquiesce in such a judgment. You say at p. 98:—

“Nothing can be more unpractical than for an individual to throw himself into the Roman Church, because he could accept the letter of the Council of Trent. Those who were born Roman Catholics, have a liberty, which, in the nature of things, a person could not have, who left another system, to embrace that of Rome. I cannot imagine how any faith could stand the shock of leaving one system, criticizing it, and cast himself into another system, criticizing it.

“For myself, I have always felt that had (which God of His mercy avert hereafter also) the English Church, by accepting heresy, driven me out of it, I could have gone in no other way than that of closing my eyes, and accepting whatever was put before me. But a liberty which individuals could not use, and explanations, which, so long as they remain individual, must be unauthoritative, might be formally made by the Church of Rome to the Church of England as the basis of re-union.”

And again, p. 210:—

“It seems to me to be a psychological impossibility for one who has already exchanged one system for another to make those distinctions. One who, by his own act, places himself under authority, cannot make conditions about his submission.

“But definite explanations of our Articles have, before now, been at least tentatively offered to us, on the Roman and Greek side, as sufficient to restore communion; and the Roman explanations too were, in most cases, mere supplements to our Articles, on points upon which our Church had not spoken.”

Now passages such as these seem almost a challenge to me to speak; and to keep silence would be to assent to the justice of them.

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