Rome: launch of ‘A Reasonable Faith’ - Newman conference papers

Fr Paul Chavasse with Bishop Marcello Semeraro atlaunch, with copy of the 'Positio' on miraculous healing of Deacon Jack Sullivan

Fr Paul Chavasse with Bishop Marcello Semeraro atlaunch, with copy of the 'Positio' on miraculous healing of Deacon Jack Sullivan

A new book has been launched in Rome, containing all the papers given at the Newman Conference in Milan in March this year.

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, Father Paul Chavasse, Marcello Pera, ex-President of the Italian Senate, together with Newman scholars and Vatican officials, attended the event last Thursday.

'Una ragionevole fede': Logos e dialogo in J. H. Newman (Vita e Pensiero, Milano 2009) contains papers in Italian and English by, among others, Father Ian Ker, the Anglican theologian Jeremy Morris, Father Michael Paul Gallagher SJ of the Gregorian University, Rome, and Father Dermot Fenlon of the Birmingham Oratory. The March conference took place at the Milan Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, and the book launch was in the University’s Roman base, hosted by its Rector Lorenzo Ornaghi.

The new book includes Benedict XVI’s message to conference participants, and the concluding sermon at the conference given by Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi.

Speaking at the launch, Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano gave a striking illustration of Newman’s influence at the Second Vatican Council.

According to Bishop Semeraro, the second chapter of Dei Verbum, the Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, “contains clear references to Newman’s thought.”   In addition, Bishop Semeraro pointed out that in the eighth chapter the Council declares: “For as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her.”

The Bishop spoke of a private conversation with recently deceased Umberto Betti, who had played a key role in drafting Council documents, and was created a Cardinal by Benedict XVI in 2007. Betti had told Bishop Semeraro that he had Newman in mind when he inserted this sentence into the document. In his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, Newman argued, in a dynamic conception ahead of his time, that the Church continually grows in her understanding and application of that faith which was delivered to the Apostles.

The Bishop also quoted passages – made public for the first time – from the ruling of the Vatican theologians who in 1990 recommended that Newman’s heroic virtue be recognised and he be declared ‘Venerable’. They added: “Newman is a model for theologians and intellectuals of all times, open to new questions, a creative pioneer, but at the same time filled with a profound reverence for the Sacred Scriptures, for the Tradition of the Church, and for the Pontifical Magisterium.”

The Corriere della Sera journalist Armando Torno illuminated Newman’s importance for the whole of modern European history. He said that Newman was a “prophet par excellence who foresaw, even in the nineteenth century, the dangers of contemporary relativism, powerfully emphasising that without truth all values are cancelled out.”

Newman, Torno went on, is “completely modern”, not least because of his outstanding gifts as a communicator of the Christian message.

Fr Paul Chavasse, Actor of the Cause for Newman’s Canonisation, said: “With his Beatification approaching, this book is timely in opening fresh perspectives on Newman. Cardinal Bagnasco’s presence, and that of a politician of the stature of Senator Pera, shows the breadth of Newman’s appeal to contemporary culture. I pray that Newman may inspire us to desire a ‘sanctity of mind’ like his own, which fearlessly trusting in God, followed the truth wherever it led.”

For more information on the Newman Cause see:

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