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John Henry Newman

Later Life and Works

Newman's theories appearing in his Idea of a University Defined (1873) were chiefly developed about this time. He believed that education should be moral training rather than instruction and proposed in token support of his position the founding of a Roman Catholic hall at Oxford to provide Catholics with the advantages of Catholicism and university training together. This (1858) was opposed by Henry Manning and the English hierarchy, much to Newman's disappointment. Newman's reputation in England was greatly enhanced soon after this by one of the most celebrated incidents of his career, the controversy with Charles Kingsley. This began in 1864 when Kingsley remarked in a review that the Catholic clergy was not interested in the truth for its own sake. After several exchanges Newman published the Apologia pro vita sua (1864), a masterpiece of religious autobiography, undoubtedly its author's greatest work.

A few years later an ambitious work of another kind appeared, the Grammar of Assent (1870), designed to set forth a sort of logic of religious belief. At this time Newman was involved in an annoying incident that gained more notice than its importance warranted; Newman, who opposed the enunciation at the time of the infallibility dogma, was quoted as denouncing those (including Cardinal Manning) who advocated its definition. He was misunderstood in England, and his enemies (Catholic and non-Catholic) spread rumors in Rome that he opposed the dogma itself; Newman soon lost favor with the papacy.

It was not until after the death of Pius IX that he regained papal support when Pius's successor, Leo XIII, created him cardinal (1879) at the general demand of English Catholicism. About the same time (1878) Trinity College, Oxford, gave him an honorary fellowship. Cardinal Newman spent his declining years at Edgbaston, loved and admired by his countrymen. Newman's misunderstanding with Manning nevertheless lasted over 30 years. The two cardinals were temperamentally poles apart; Newman had no interest in social reform and Manning no taste for theological controversy.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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