Oxford, England -- Seminars on John Henry Newman

In the months leading up to the beatification of John Henry Newman (held in Birmingham, on September 19), Grandpont House university residence organized a cycle of seminars on the writings of the English cardinal. The sessions were directed to the university population of Oxford who wanted to learn more about Newman’s thought.

The first seminar, entitled “Newman and the Laity,” was held on May 22. Msgr. Richard Stork spoke about Newman’s vision of the role of the laity in the Church and in society. Professor Paul Shrimpton then discussed Newman’s ideas on the formation of the laity. He put special emphasis on approach taken at the “Catholic University” that Newman founded in 1854, and at the “Oratory School,” also founded by Newman in 1859.

The sessions on Saturday, June 19, centered on “Newman and Humanism.” Rev. James Pereiro spoke about reason and faith in the Cardinal’s thought and the influence of Aristotle’s ethics. Professor Shrimpton looked at Newman’s vision for the university. Following the thought of the new Blessed, he said that the university should be aimed not a imparting a specific body of knowledge, but rather at the development of a balanced and mature human personality.

The last of the seminars, on “Newman and Conscience,” took place on Saturday, July 17. The first speaker, Fr. Peter Bristow, said that one of Newman’s principal contributions to religious thought was the emphasis placed on the role of conscience in Christian life. This is a recurrent theme in his works and letters, especially in his well-known “Letter to the Duke of Norfolk.” The concluding session was given by the spokesman for Newman’s beatification, Jack Valero, who talked about “Newman and Communication.” Valero highlighted the influence of Newman’s writings on the young Joseph Ratzinger, and on the German student Sophie Scholl and other members of the “White Rose” student movement, some of whom lost their life in opposing Nazism.

Romana, n. 51, January-January 2010, p. 380-381.

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