Blessed John Henry Newman on “our obligations to the Holy See.”

“What need I say more to measure our own duty to [the Holy See] and to him who sits in it, than to say that in his administration of Christ’s kingdom, in his religious acts, we must never oppose his will, or dispute his word, or criticise his policy, or shrink from his side? There are kings of the earth who have despotic authority, which their subjects obey indeed but disown in their hearts; but we must never murmur at that absolute rule which the Sovereign Pontiff has over us, because it is given to him by Christ, and, in obeying him, we are obeying his Lord. We must never suffer ourselves to doubt, that, in his government of the Church, he is guided by an intelligence more than human. His yoke is the yoke of Christ, he has the responsibility of his own acts, not we; and to his Lord must he render account, not to us. Even in secular matters it is ever safe to be on his side, dangerous to be on the side of his enemies. Our duty is,—not indeed to mix up Christ’s Vicar with this or that party of men, because he in his high station is above all parties,—but to look at his formal deeds, and to follow him whither he goeth, and never to desert him, however we may be tried, but to defend him at all hazards, and against all comers, as a son would a father, and as a wife a husband, knowing that his cause is the cause of God.” (From: John Henry Newman, “The Pope and the Revolution,” Preached Oct. 7, 1866, in the Church of the Oratory, Birmingham)

3 thoughts on “Blessed John Henry Newman on “our obligations to the Holy See.”

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  3. I find it hard to understand how the admonition you quote is compatible with some other things he said:

    “But we must hope, for one is obliged to hope it, that the Pope will be driven from Rome, and will not continue the Council, or that there will be another Pope. It is sad he should force us to such wishes.”
    (Newman’s Letter to Fr. Ambrose St. John, 22 August, 1870)

    And to Lady Simeon on Nov 18, 1870:
    “We have come to a climax of tyranny. It is not good for a Pope to live 20 years. It is anomaly and bears no good fruit; he becomes a god, has no one to contradict him, does not know facts, and does cruel things without meaning it.” (Charles Stephen Dessain’s The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, v. XXVI).


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