The Procurator-General of the Oratory Confederation, in his letter to the Congregations on the Beatification of Cardinal Newman, includes an extract from Newman’s allocution on the occasion of his reception of the Red Hat, in which he discourses on what he saw as one of the greatest problems in society of his day – Liberalism in Religion.
This is, of course, so entirely apposite today that I thought it would be useful to reprint part of it here :
‘I rejoice to say, to one great mischief I have from the first opposed myself. For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. Never did Holy Church need champions against it more sorely than now, when, alas ! it is an error overspreading, as a snare, the whole earth; and on this great occasion, when it is natural for one who is in my place to look out upon the world, and upon Holy Church as in it, and upon her future, it will not, I hope, be considered out of place, if I renew the protest against it which I have made so often. Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily. It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are matters of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact ... and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy.’
As we prepare for the Beatification, let us be regular in asking Cardinal Newman’s prayers for help against this insidious evil in our midst : asking for strength to resist it, eloquence to combat it, and faith to confound it.