Cardinal Newman, Defender of the Faith, by Russell Shaw

Pope Francis Endorses Attack on Conservative Christians, by John Zmirak
September 30, 2019
State Can’t Close Catholic Adoption Agency That Wants to Place Kids With Mother and Father, by Steven Ertelt
September 30, 2019

image: Chihwiedavidliu [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Russell Shaw, Catholic Exchange, September 30, 2019

Russell Shaw“In your opinion, what is the best book of Catholic apologetics?”

Although that question, put to me unexpectedly several years ago by someone I was chatting with, took me by surprise, I didn’t have to spend much time searching for the answer.

“Cardinal Newman’s Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine,” I said confidently—just as I would do now if someone asked me the same thing.

I remembered this incident recently as I thought about John Henry Newman’s upcoming canonization as a saint, scheduled to take place October 13 in Rome. What is it, I asked myself, that makes this scholarly 19th century British churchman an object of continuing interest to so many people 129 years after his death?

The answer, I believe, is that Newman was and remains first and foremost a great defender of the faith–something we’re much in need of now.

A critic who hadn’t read the book might object that the Essay on Development is a poor example of defending the faith, since in the years following Vatican Council II “development” has often been used as cover for changing settled doctrine. ….