Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pope Francis and the Anti-Hero Heroes of Today


Pope Francis’ citing Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton in his speech to Congress was a red flag to the Katholic Krazies.  Both Day and Merton, though they really represent the Church before Vatican II in as that the greater part of their work was done in the years prior to the Council, are icons of Contemporary Catholicism.     
The Pope cited Thomas Merton for his openness to dialogue and the reconciliation to which dialogue can lead.  Merton (1915-1968) was a convert to Catholicism while in graduate school at Columbia University and he later entered the Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemane in Kentucky.  Merton’s literary background put him in a unique position in the Abbey as he was commissioned to write several books introducing the Cistercian tradition to the American public.  Merton was also cast into a vital role in the Abbey as Master of Novices which mean that it was his task to oversee the instruction of the young monks in the first six or so years of their monastic journey.  During this time he immersed himself in the monastic tradition going back before Benedict to Cassian and the Desert Fathers.  As he explored the world of mysticism he began to notice similarities between the ancient traditions of the Desert Fathers with spiritualties in other religious traditions, most notably Zen Buddhism. In the last few years of his life, Merton began writing on this subject but while his exposure to Zen (in particular) and other Eastern traditions enriched his spiritual growth he remained orthodox in his Catholic faith and a priest in good standing. 
Merton’s contemplative journey has had a huge impact on many people over the years.  Despite the monastic setting in which he lived, tens or even hundreds, of thousands of Catholics and other Christians have learned from him how to practice a much deeper life of prayer that was typical of the Catholic laity (or even most Religious) in the those golden days of yore to which the neo-trads always harken as an alleged “golden age” of the faith.  Meditation has become a common practice among Catholic laity and Merton’s practical guides to a contemplative life have channeled out from his Cistercian cloister through the Benedictines, Carmelites, Augustinians and other apostolic communities to the laity.  Indeed through the influence of Merton, it is often more likely to find a deep spiritual life lived by laity than by many Religious or priests and this is a most unfortunate situation.  Fellow Cistercian Thomas Keating and Franciscan friar Richard Rohr have done much to advance Merton’s work in providing down to earth spiritual guidance rooted in the monastic heritage but suited to people “in the real world.” 
Merton did have a final crisis in his life that was very significant.  During a hospitalization two years before he died, he fell in love with a student Nurse.  The relationship is complex and it is uncertain whether or not and to what extent Merton was faithful to his vows.  In the end, however, he did recommit himself to the monastic life though, despite the admonition of his abbot, he never broke contact with the nurse.  Merton had also fathered an illegitimate child in his youth before his conversion.  Merton devotees seem to be able to take his faults in their stride; those who see Merton as negative influence stress his failings. 
What has set the krazies off about Merton is his commitment to dialogue and his conviction that dialogue with those who differ from us can enrich our own understanding of the Truth.  To those who have an absolutist view of the universe this is a very threatening concept.  They believe there since we possess all Truth in itself we can learn nothing—ours is but to impart the truth to others which is not dialogic but didactic.  Dialogue can lead to change and change is threatening to them. 
Merton’s exploration of mysticism also gave him a passion for social justice.  His was an early voice both for Civil Rights and against the War in Vietnam.  Merton understood that a contemplative life changes us, makes us see the world through God’s eyes, and recognize the fundamental evil of human-caused suffering whether it be poverty, war, discrimination, prejudice, sexism, religious hatred or other source of evil.  But it was Dorothy Day that Pope Francis cited as his model for the Church’s engagement with contemporary social issues.
Day’s life was as complex as Merton’s.  Like Merton, Day was a convert to the Church after a fairly raucous and even libertine life.  While she had always been a nominal Christian and even, for a while, a devout Episcopalian, her twenties were caught up in a somewhat bohemian existence.  She became pregnant by one love and terminated the pregnancy with an abortion.  She became—to her surprise (she had thought she was sterile after her abortion)—pregnant by a second lover and bore the child.  Motherhood changed her radically and her concern for her daughter made Day bring her life more sharply into focus.  Her politics had always been radical.  From the beginning her views were shaped by a Christian perspective on distributive justice, but in her relative naïveté this led to strong ties to the American Communist party.  She also was involved in Women’s Suffrage and had been arrested at the White House during the Wilson Administration for demonstrating for the right of women to vote.  Upon her conversion to Catholicism she moved away from Communism to the principles of Distributive Justice as were being articulated at the time by Pius XI as an alternative to both Marxism and uncontrolled market capitalism.  She came under the influence of Peter Maurin, a French immigrant well steeped in the Fathers of the Church and Catholic Theology who articulated a clear vision for what Catholics hold to constitute a just society.  Distributive justice of course demands an equitable distribution of wealth and this appears to many—both then and today—as socialism.  Day was no arm-chair radical but a very hands on practioner.  She and Maurin founded the Catholic Worker movement and began publishing its newspaper, The Catholic Worker.  The movement continues today, with the Church’s blessing, but on the extreme left of contemporary Catholicism.  Day herself has been proposed for the canonization process and has been given the title “Servant of God” in recognition of that status.  She died in 1980.
Dorothy Day, like Merton, is a threatening figure to the krazies because she isn’t a cookie-cutter Catholic.  Their being cited by the Pope as examples of American (and in this case Catholic) virtues signals a real re-ordering in our moral hierarchy.  No longer is righteousness limited to the field of sexual propriety but deeper values are permitted to transcend the superficial categories which we cathari, perfecti, pure ones, self-righteous have constructed to demonstrate our moral superiority.  This Pope is turning things upside down and if you don’t have a strong sense of adventure the ride is becoming frightening.  

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Problem With Francis; The Problem For Francis A Matter of Perspective

The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men. United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the Kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds.
Hence this Second Vatican Council, having probed more profoundly into the mystery of the Church, now addresses itself without hesitation, not only to the sons of the Church and to all who invoke the name of Christ, but to the whole of humanity. For the council yearns to explain to everyone how it conceives of the presence and activity of the Church in the world of today.
Thus opens Gaudium et Spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World issued by the Council Fathers of Vatican II and promulgated by Pope Paul VI on December 7, 1965.  The Church addresses itself not only to its own members, or even to all Christians, but to the entre human family and it does so in a dialogic manner.  The Church has picked up not only on our spiritual needs but on “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted.” The Church here approaches the world with a very different tone and a revised set of priorities than had been used at Vatican I or Trent or even in much of the papal magisterium of the previous centuries.  I say “much” because the amazing encyclicals Rerum Novarum of Leo XIII (1891) and Quadrigesimo Anno of Pius XI (1931) had made brave sallies into the practical world of everyday concerns regarding the rights of Labor and a just ordering of society, putting aside for the moment the more ethereal concerns of the what some might call the “purely spiritual.”  Even these encyclicals, however, were delivered in a magisterial tone where the respective popes intended to “set things right” by decree.  Gaudium et Spes took an entirely different approach, inviting the world beyond the Church to enter into a dialogue by which both the world and the Church can be enriched by a common exploration for the Truth.  Actually both tone and matter of Gaudium et Spes was to some degree anticipated in the Encyclicals of John XIII, namely Pacem in Terris and Mater et Magistra.
The entire tone of the Second Vatican Council was one of dialogue.  Nostra Aetate calls us into dialogue with non-Christian Religions. Unitatis Reintegratio establishes dialogue among the various branches of the Christian family.  Sacrocanctum Concilium calls for the various differing cultures of our human family to be integrated into our Roman Rite as a way of expanding our awareness of the broad diversity of cultures within our Catholic faith.  Christus Dominus calls for the Pope to act collegially and dialogically with his brother bishops in leading the Church.  Often our vision is so locked on the “trees”—the individual changes of Vatican II—that we fail to see the “forest”—the fundamentally different ecology of the Post-Vatican II Church. 
Unfortunately there was an attempt during the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI to soothe the nerves of those for whom this fundamental shift in the Church’s self-understanding was overwhelmingly threatening.  This shift led to what was called “the hermeneutic of continuity,” an attempt to blunt the Council Father’s vision but reinterpreting it in a more narrow context.  Certainly there is great continuity in the Church throughout its history and it has not been broken by the Second Vatican Council.  The immutable and eternal Truths of the Creed remain intact.  The basic nature of the Mass as a Sacrificial Banquet in which we are made present to and participant in the Death and Resurrection of the Lord remains.   The Pope is still infallible—in fact, under John Paul and with the articulation of Josef Ratzinger (later Benedict XVI) there was even an extension of infallibility into the ordinary magisterium.  John Paul and Benedict often “talked the talk” of collegiality and dialogue, they fairly rarely “walked the walk.” There was a strong recentralization of authority in the Roman Curia with the consequent demission of the authority of the bishops, both collegially and individually.  The Ecumenical and Inter-religious dialogues have all but imploded.  The Liturgy, especially under Benedict, was returned to a European expression of faith.
All this is a bit of a background to Pope Francis and in particular to his visit to the United States.  It is becoming undeniably clear that there are two Churches in the United States. There is a majority Church which not only accepts the Council but is enthusiastic about the dialogical approach.  They want discussion about the issues of the day: climate change, immigration, income inequality, the death penalty.  They want a Church is that more inclusive and where there is honest dialogue between those of differing opinions.  They understand the moral underpinnings of the great social and economic challenges that face our nation and our world.  On the other hand there are those who want to go back to the Church of Gregory XVI (reigned 1831-1846) whose monastic background left him frightened, defensive, and condemnatory of the world around him.  (This was the Pope who condemned gas lighting and railways which he saw as dangerous innovations that threatened the existing social order by promoting the bourgeois class.)  These Catholics want the Church to retain its authoritative tone and to limit is voice to those issues which they perceive to belong to the “spiritual realm.”  Needless to say, they perceive Pope Francis’ speeches and actions during his American visit to threaten their entire understanding of the Church and its mission. 
Ultimately what is at stake from a theological perspective is our understanding of the Incarnation.  What does it mean for God to have become human in Christ Jesus?  An orthodox perspective sees that the Divine has entered directly into our human experience.  As such God has taken on himself the concerns of the human family as one of us.  There is nothing that does not fall under his reign or his benevolence—economics, politics, education, health, displacement of peoples from their homes, the protection of life at every stage—discipleship demands a response from us in this world and the Kingdom of God is seen as something that not only finds its realization in the eschaton but involves the transformation of this world by the grace of God. 
On the other hand, the attempts to limit the Church’s mission to the “purely spiritual” represent theologically a Nestorian position where God comes among us in human appearance but never truly embraces our humanity and makes it his own.  This scheme verges on Gnosticism in which the world is divided into the “sacred” and the “profane” and the Church’s only interest is with the “sacred.”  In such a scheme “salvation” is about the eternal reward of the soul in a post-apocalyptic heaven.   (The body gets to go along as a free ride in the Resurrection of the Dead, but the concern is the soul.)   This world and those who belong to it meet only judgment and destruction.  This scheme separates charity from justice, content that the poor and those on the margins of society receive the crumbs that fall from the tables of their betters.  The orthodox scheme realizes that without a determination for justice there is no true charity only condescension. 
The split between the two Churches in the United States grows stronger and stronger.  It isn’t a result of Vatican II, though I think Vatican II has to some extent crystalized it.   Years ago I approached the same issue from the perspective of the English Colonial Catholic Church and the Maryland Recusant Tradition as opposed to the European immigrant Church Tradition which challenged Colonial Catholicism in the early 19th century and afterwards.  The conflict for the Church found its way into Vatican II.  There were many influences for reform and change, but there is no doubt that the universal Catholic Church was highly influenced at Vatican II by the distinctly American tradition as represented in the Decree on Religious Freedom and by a more communal and less hierarchical self-understanding.  To a notable extent the Universal Church was “Americanized” at the Council and the conflict continues today between those who want a monarchial and authoritarian Church and those whose vision is a more communal and dialogical Church.  In the end the Vatican II model will prevail both because its foundation was well laid at the Council and because the vast majority of Catholics worldwide have embraced it.  The question will be, how long can the two Churches co-exist in mutual recognition? 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Coffee Monks of Cody Wyoming

A Discalced Carmelite friar 
prepares to take his vows.

“They seem to be very good monks, but they aren’t Carmelites”  I was at a forum celebrating the fifth centenary of the birth of Saint Teresa of Avila when a member of the audience asked the panel of speakers about the “Mystic Monks” coffee producers of Cody Wyoming.   The speaker went on to explain: “Carmel is a family of religious friars, cloistered nuns, and various congregations of Third Order Sisters as well as affiliated laity that date back to the early 13th century when Saint Albert of Jerusalem wrote a “Formula for Life” (Formula Vitae) for a small band of lay hermits who lived on Mount Carmel. Within a few years of their foundation, the lay hermits had become formal religious; their Formula Vitae, a religious Rule; and they themselves aggregated into the Mendicant Friars along with other Lay hermit groups such as today’s Franciscans and Augustinians.  For two and a half centuries there were only Carmelite men but then in the middle of the fifteenth century the Order began receiving women as nuns as well as Laity into a “Third Order.”  In the nineteenth century groups of apostolic women affiliated with one or the other branch of the Carmelite Order.   In the last decade of the sixteenth century the Order was split between the reform movement led by Saints Teresa and John of the Cross and the original branch of the Order.  The reformed group became known as the Discalced Carmelite Order, the original group is known simply as “The Carmelites.”  To  be a Carmelite, part of the Carmelite family, you must be affiliated to one of these two Pontifically recognized families, even if your group is not a Pontifical Right Community but a local diocesan community.  The monks in Cody are not affiliated with either group and are not recognized by the Carmelite family as authentic Carmelites.  But they do make great coffee none the less.”
I took the speaker’s suggestion and I called each of the Provincial Offices of both the Carmelite Order and the Order of Discalced Carmelites and each gave me the same response that the “Carmelite Monks” of Cody Wyoming are not affiliated in any way with the Carmelite Order or with the Discalced Carmelites.  One of the Provincial Offices gave me this description of the origins of the Monks:
“In the late 1980’s a diocesan priest with ties to the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Lake Elmo MN wished to establish a community of Carmelite hermits.  The nuns gave him some land on which to build their hermitage and the good Father gathered his community.  Although they enjoyed the good will of the nuns they had no canonical ties to the larger Carmelite Order and their founder more or less pieced together what he thought Carmelite hermits should be, borrowing a lot of the customs from the nuns.  Their hope was to be received into the Discalced Carmelites but when they approached the Discalced Carmelite authorities in Rome they were rejected because while the Discalced Carmelites value the tradition of hermits they do not see it as a permanent vocation.  In the Discalced Carmelite Tradition, friars go to a hermitage for a period of between two and five years but then return to a more apostolic life.  Being turned down by the Discalced Carmelites, the founder approached the Carmelites who were more open to the idea of an eremitical life.  They were received into the Carmelite Order in the early 1990’s, but the subprior of the group was not happy with the proposed affiliation to the Carmelite Order and left with several of the brothers to form the Carmelite Monks.  They had never received a proper novitiate in the Carmelites before they left and their subsequent development indicates that while they know some of the “fluff” in the Carmelite Tradition, they miss the substance of Carmelite Life and Spirituality.”
I was referred to a Carmelite historian who for many years taught Carmelite history and spirituality and I asked him “If the original hermits on Mount Carmel were monks, why is it so impossible for these monks to be considered to be authentic Carmelites?”  The professor explained:
“The hermits on Mount Carmel weren’t monks.  There never have been “monks” in the Carmelite tradition.  There were two types of hermits in the 12th and 13th centuries.  There were monastic hermits such as the Camaldolese or the Carthusians or even individual monks in cenobitic abbeys who had permission to live as hermits on the monastic grounds or one of the abbey’s granges.  And there were lay hermits who were men who consecrated themselves to live without personal property and support themselves by manual labor and alms.  They also dedicated themselves to live without corporate wealth and shunned big monasteries and the sort of institutions the monks had for support.  Lay hermits tended to live in smaller groups, often attached to an insignificant church which other priests did not want.  Their convents (they called their houses “convents” or friaries or priories and avoided the word “monastery” to describe their home) were functional but very simple compared to the great monastic abbeys.  The lay hermits gave themselves to prayer and to a limited apostolate of what we would call today “street-corner preaching” as well as work with lepers and others on the margins of society.  The hermits on Mount Carmel were of this lay hermit sort, not of the monastic model.  Other religious orders today who have their origins in the lay hermit movement are the Franciscans and Augustinians.  The Monks at Cody seem to have adopted the Monastic Model, notably the Carthusian idea of a large Church surrounded by a cloister containing the “hermit houses” or multi-room cells of the Carthusian or Camaldolese or Vallambrosian models.  This is totally foreign to the Carmelite tradition which both on Mount Carmel and in the Teresian Reform avoided display in favor of a simplicity that testified to the corporate poverty of the Mendicant movement.”
“Another difference—and an essential one—is that Carmelite men were never enclosed or “cloistered.”  Carmelite nuns are traditionally enclosed because at the time the first houses of Carmelite women were established, it was canon law for all religious women in vows to be cloistered.  I always tell the nuns when I am doing workshops that they are cloistered not because they are Carmelites, but because they are women.  To “cloister” the men is a bit of an historical anachronism, a sign that these fellows in Cody are “making it up as they go along.”  They have this romanticized version of the Carmel and its heritage that is more Sir Walter Scott’s novels than Saint Albert’s Rule.  I am not saying that they aren’t good men or that they don’t make great coffee or even that they are good monks: but they aren’t Carmelites.  They don’t understand the heritage.”
Another idiosyncrasy that was pointed out is that while the Carmelite Monks claim to be attached to the Discalced Carmelite Tradition, they use—without any canonical authority—the post-Tridentine version of the Carmelite Rite.  The Discalced Carmelites, from the time of their separation from the Carmelite Order, renounced the distinctive Carmelite Rite for the Roman Rite as found in the 1570 Missal of Pius V. While some Carmelite friars have been given permission to use the old Rite, this authorization has not been extended to the Discalced Carmelites since it never was part of their heritage.  The Local Bishop can, of course, give any priest authorization for the 1570 Roman Missal, and indeed according to some interpretations of Summorum Pontificum, such permission is not even needed.  Permission to use the medieval or Tridentine versions of the specific religious orders is restricted to members of those Orders and so is not available to the Monks at Cody since they are not recognized as members of the Carmelite Order. 
“What the Monks seem to have grabbed at are the particular customs of the Order in the sixteenth century—things like having a skull on the tables in the refectory to remind us of our mortality, or the use of the ‘discipline’ (the scourge or small whip used on penitential days for self-flagellation).  They like customs such as ‘kneeling out’ when late for choir or refectory or the monastic tonsure or the Solemn Salve Regina on Saturday evenings.  There is nothing wrong with much of this stuff, but it isn’t at the heart of Carmel.  The Cody monastery is more about playing at Religious Life than the serious spiritual heritage of Carmel.”
What is going on here is what is going on in much of the Church where neo-traditionalism has set in.  there is an attempt to refashion the present into an idealized and romanticized version of the past.  It reduces the Church to an ecclesiastical Colonial Williamsburg rather than a community of Disciples with the Divine Mission of heralding the Kingdom of God. It betrays a lack of historical knowledge and an ability to critically evaluate the data of the past in determining the present and charting the future. It is no way for our Church to go.  It is not what Pope Francis is about and it isn’t even an authentic interpretation of the agenda that Pope Benedict had for the Church.   But the boys in Cody do make great coffee.  Ya gotta give ‘em that. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Foundations of the Anglican Church CXXVI

John Henry Newman

Even before John Keble’s famous sermon “National Apostasy” which triggered the Tractarian movement, Newman had immersed himself in the study of the Fathers of the Church and had in 1833 produced his first major work, The Arians of the Fourth Century.  This led, in turn, to a study of the heresy on the other end of the theological spectrum from Arianism, the Monophysites.  But he became deeply troubled as he got further and further into his studies, perceiving similarities between the Monophysites and his Anglican Church when it came to questions of ecclesial authority.  He then came across a quote from Saint Augustine that shook him to his core “'Securus judicat orbis terrarium!”  “The decision of the entire world is definitive.” In other words: When the Church reaches a consensus, the answer is established.  Newman saw that the position claimed by the Church of England to be a via media, a sort of bridge between Catholicism and Protestantism, wasn’t tenable.  You either stood with the Church or outside it.  From this point on his commitment to Anglicanism was in its death throes. 
While he had come to this understanding sometime around 1839, and while he ceased priestly ministry in the Church of England after 1843, it was only in October 1845 that Newman himself made the leap into the Catholic Church.  Several of his Littlemore associates had already preceded him. 
Newman’s choice for Roman Catholicism shocked family and friends alike.  Many of his old associates turned their backs on him.  It was impossible for him to stay at Littlemore since the cottages belonged to the Anglican parish, and he and his associates moved to Oscott, the seminary of Bishop Nicholas Wiseman who was the Vicar Apostolic (Catholic Bishop) of the Midlands district.  (England at the time had no established Catholic hierarchy but was guided by four—and then later eight—regional bishops known as Vicars Apostolic.)  That October, the first anniversary of his being received into the Catholic Church, Newman went to Rome where he was received by Pius IX and ordained a Catholic priest by Cardinal Giacomo Filippo Fransoni.  Pius awarded the Doctorate of Divinity to the distinguished convert. He was hereafter known as “Doctor Newman” even in Protestant circles.  Newman wanted to be a religious priest and looked at several Orders, most notably the Dominicans.  In the end, however, he settled on the Oratorians, who are secular priests (without religious vows) living a collegial life with some common prayer and meals while collaborating in ministry.  It is a life highly suited to the apostle and to the scholar but no so much to the mystic. 
Newman returned to England in late 1847, and after some moving around finally settled at Edgbaston in Birmingham where the magnificent church of the Immaculate Conception and a large and commodious house for the Oratorian community were built.  The Church became famous for its superior music and Newman’s preaching drew a large audience, both Catholic and Anglican. 
Newman wasn’t long in England before the Catholic Church in England had to face a major crisis.  We will have to deal with this in a future posting but in summary in September 1850, Pope Pius IX established a Catholic hierarchy in England.  While the Pope was careful not to give his bishops the titles of the pre-Reformation Sees, titles still held by the Bishops of the Church of England, to give any English title was seen to be an affront to Her Majesty, the Queen.  The Prime Minister, Lord John Russell, was a particularly nasty anti-Catholic and rather than come to some understanding of the situation chose to fan the flames.  The somewhat high and mighty attitude of Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman, the first Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, didn’t help.   Wiseman, like so many hierarchs, was a natural at pontificating and not only at the Liturgy.  The brouhaha reached such a point that Newman was called in to rescue the situation with a series of lectures explaining Catholicism to the public.  Though in the end the arch-Protestants (they had never liked Newman when he was a High Church Anglican) did not accept his explanations, Newman was able to bring an objective understanding of Roman Catholicism into the eye of the English public.  You would think the Catholic party would be appreciative; it never was. 
Newman was part of a flood of converts from Anglicanism to Catholicism.  While his conversion was the occasion that triggered many others to follow, they didn’t convert to the same Catholic Church.  Newman never lost that Anglican reserve that made him uncomfortable with the more exotic flowerings of Latin Catholicism whereas many of the converts—and most especially Henry Edward Manning, the Anglican Archdeacon of Chichester who followed Newman into the Catholic Church in 1851—went full fig into the most outrageous Ultramontane Catholicism.  (Ultramontane refers to those Catholics who were determined not only to be more papal than the Pope, but more I-talian in their enthusiasm for baroque Catholicism and sentimental piety.  It really wasn’t a pretty thing then and it isn’t now as we see in the vagaries of neo-traditionalism and the excesses of the Burke/Cordileone/Morlino burlesque.)  Newman wasn’t trusted by the zealots because he was a strong advocate of using one’s intellectual abilities to define one’s theology rather than blindly getting on the popular bandwagon as it rolled along a road of Italianate extravagances. 
In 1854 the Catholic Bishops in Ireland invited Newman to come to Dublin and establish a Catholic University.  They really didn’t understand his basic philosophy of Education.  Newman believed that the University should be a place free of direct control of the Church where there was sufficient latitude for research, publication and open debate.  His ideas were drawn from the great Medieval universities of Europe where Revelation was cherished and Tradition maintained but also where there was an intellectual freedom to explore questions without being bound to pre-determined answers.  This view did not make the Bishops happy and Newman resigned after four years and returned to the Birmingham Oratory.
Later in life Newman somewhat romanticized his Anglican years as a time of his universal popularity and esteem and his Catholic years as a time of being bitterly misunderstood.  There is some truth to the picture as long as you don’t look too closely at the details—especially in the Anglican phase.  Suffice it to say that the 1860’s and ‘70’s were a time of personal anguish in which he felt he had sacrifice everything for the Truth he found in Catholicism.  Rumors abounded that he had—or soon would—revert to the Church of England.  And in all honesty old Anglican friends, most notably Richard William Church, the Dean of Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London, were far more faithful friends than his Catholic co-religionists.
Newman was a particular thorn in the side of Manning who had, by this time, advanced to the position of Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and (Catholic) Primate of England.  Henry Manning was a particularly stony fellow who met the description often used by a late friend of mine when describing unpleasant people.  “He had a face like a bowl full of sour a**holes.”  Manning was in many respects the polar opposite of Newman.  As Newman stuck to the understated Recusant Catholic Tradition that marked English Catholicism between the Reformation and the establishment of the hierarchy, Manning embraced a Catholicism that would make a Neapolitan blush.  Newman and Manning came to public disagreement over the Declaration of Papal Infallibility in 1870.   Newman professed his belief in the Doctrine but felt that it may not be opportune to define.  Manning supported the definition with an alarming enthusiasm totally divorced from the socio-political realities of the Catholic Church in England.  Newman, of course, was a priest and therefore would not be attending Vatican I, his influence being confined to his writings and talks.  Manning was leading the English Episcopal delegation to the Council.   Manning made sure that Pius IX and the Roman Curia well understood just how liberal Newman was and his intellectual ties to other opponents of the definition. This pushed Newman further and further back into the shadows.
Newman was sustained during this period of neglect by Ambrose Saint John.  Saint John had been part of the Littlemore community and converted to Catholicism about a month before Newman.  He accompanied Newman to Rome and was ordained to the Catholic priesthood there with him.  Together they were received into the Oratory and together they planned and built the Birmingham Oratory.  Other than Newman’s four years in Dublin they lived together in the Birmangham Oratory for the remainder of Saint John’s life.  When Saint John died in May 1875 Newman threw himself on the bed next to the corpse and would not be parted from his friend until the undertakers came for the body the next morning.  Newman said: "I have ever thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband's or a wife's, but I feel it difficult to believe that any can be greater, or any one's sorrow greater, than mine.”  He called Ambrose Saint John his “life under God for 33 years.”  (This would be from the time Saint John came to Littlemore in 1842 until his death in 1845.)  Newman instructed that he was to buried in the same grave as Ambrose Saint John.  It was a very complex relationship and while there is no reason to suspect that it lacked an integrity, it does reveal the complexities of our psycho-sexual natures. 
In 1878 Pius IX died.  The election of Giacomo Pecci as Leo XIII was as much a new broom sweeping away the accumulated rubbish of the previous reign as the election of Pope Francis has proved to be.  And in the very first consistory of Cardinals named in his reign in 1879, Leo named John Henry Newman.   The Duke of Norfolk, the premier peer of the Realm as well as England’s leading Catholic layman, had suggested the idea to the new Pope who was quite enthusiastic about it.  But even here Manning tried to stop it.  The practice was (and still is) that Cardinals who are not residential bishops live in Rome.  Newman, now at the age of 78, was reluctant to give up the comforts and securities of England and said he might accept the Red Hat but only if dispensation were given him to continue to live at the Birmingham oratory.  The correspondence all went through the Primate and Manning did not forward  Newman’s letter but duplicitously wrote Rome saying that Newman had declined as he did not choose to live in Rome.  When Pope Leo expressed his regrets to the Duke of Norfolk, Norfolk immediately cleared up the “misunderstanding” on Newman’s behalf and Newman got his Red Hat.  Punch, the satirical magazine, put it right when it wrote of Newman’s elevation:
"'Tis the good and grey head that would honor the Hat
Not the Hat that would honor the Head."   
 Newman died August 11, 1890 and was interred in Saint John’s grave in Rednal as he had requested. 
When Newman died he was much admired by Anglicans and Catholics alike, especially among the intelligentsia.  A particular correspondent and admiring friend was Liberal Prime Minister William E. Glastone.  Gladstone, like Newman, believed in the supremacy of the individual conscience. 
Ironically Newman has been adopted by several right-wing groups of contemporary Catholics, most notably the “Cardinal Newman Society.”  He is posited as an anti-liberal when in fact he was anything but.  Newman’s opposition was to the “liberalism” of the Enlightenment and its heirs who saw religion only as a natural phenomenon and discounted not only the idea of Absolute Truth(s) but of Divine Revelation itself.  Newman had always seen what a blind alley this rationalism led to but he was no conservative.  His philosophy of Education which had led him into conflict with the Irish Bishops during his years with the National University in Dublin shows his respect for open inquiry, investigation, and discussion. His defense of the supremacy of conscience was decades ahead of its time.   Moreover his essay on the need to consult the laity in matters of doctrine gives lie to his belief in the Magisterium as the sole source of authority in the Church.  Indeed, he had a great confidence in the capabilities of a Catholic laity and was very leery of hierarchical absolutism in the Church.  He is often referred to as “The Father of Vatican II” since the Council realized so many of his dreams for the Church.  We can’t say, of course, what his attitude would be towards the Liturgical Reforms which came about only 75 years after he was in his grave, but an overall familiarity with his writings gives that sense of confidence in modernity that is reflected in the 1970 Missal.  “To live is to change,” he wrote “and to be perfect is to have changed often.”  
Newman’s flight from the Church of England to the Catholic Church gave impetus for many more to follow him but ironically he has always, even in his lifetime, served as an eirenicon of harmonization between the two traditions.