Bishop and Cardinal – What should we make of Bishop Sanborn’s condemnations of Cardinal Newman? (Part II)

Is it true to say Newman saw conscience as an ‘internet connection to heaven’?

Image: Wiki Commons

This is Part II. See Part I here and Part III here.

In the previous piece, I began analysing the claims made by Bishop Donald Sanborn in a reaction video published by his seminary’s YouTube channel.[1] This video dealt with the requirements for salvation, and consisted of Bishop Sanborn and an interviewer reacting to numerous clips of an interview between Bishop Robert Barron and Ben Shapiro.

In particular, I have been considering the extremely critical remarks made by Bishop Sanborn about Cardinal Newman.

I have already demonstrated that Bishop Sanborn’s presentation of Cardinal Newman’s idea of conscience – which he condemns as ‘precisely modernist’ – is inaccurate and unfair. This is so, not least because the chapter in question makes clear that Newman understood conscience in ‘precisely’ the same was as the bishop does himself.

For the reasons set out in the previous part and in this one, I propose that it is a matter of conscience for the video in question to be removed, and for Bishop Sanborn to retract his accusations and make some reparation to Cardinal Newman’s good name.

At the time of publication, this video remains online, and those associated with Bishop Sanborn continue to circulate it. As such, I shall proceed to this second part.

In this piece, I will consider Bishop Sanborn’s wider criticisms about the language used by Newman – in particular, those based on Newman calling conscience ‘the aboriginal Vicar of Christ’ and him saying that he would offer a toast to conscience before the Roman Pontiff.

In the process of considering these points, we shall see that Newman by no means thought conscience was ‘the phone to God’ and ‘internet connection to Heaven’, as Bishop Sanborn suggests – and that the bishop’s accusations, that of Newman’s ideas were ‘modernist’ and that he ‘remained a protestant’, are grotesquely unfair.

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God’s existence

Newman treats conscience as a proof for God’s existence. This is sometimes interpreted, by those prejudiced against him, as being an example of him endorsing the modernist theory of ‘vital immanence’ condemned by St Pius X.

This modernist theory held that religion and dogma arise out of an internal sense – and treating this as in any way similar to Newman’s proof from conscience is to miss the point of one, or both, ideas.

First, let’s start again with Newman’s stated definition of conscience as given in the chapter in question:

‘I observe that conscience is not a judgment upon any speculative truth, any abstract doctrine, but bears immediately on conduct, on something to be done or not done.

‘”Conscience,” says St. Thomas, “is the practical judgment or dictate of reason, by which we judge what hic et nunc is to be done as being good, or to be avoided as evil.” Hence conscience cannot come into direct collision with the Church’s or the Pope’s infallibility; which is engaged in general propositions, and in the condemnation of particular and given errors.”’[2]

As stated, this is the definition which Newman gives.

The chapter in question is based on this definition, and not on any purple passage or figurative language. In a similar way, his proof for the existence of God based on this definition, and not anything else.

The proof is expressed at length in Newman’s The Grammar of Assent. Bishop O’Dwyer, in his work praised by St Pius X, summarises this argument:

‘It starts with the assumption that men have a conscience—a faculty which yields specifically distinct feelings in presence of human actions; that these feelings include a moral sense which distinguishes right from wrong by a judgment of the reason, and moreover a moral dictate which commands some actions, and forbids others, and it is in this respect that it seems to Newman to point to the existence of God.’[3]

(Do not be distracted by his use of the word ‘feelings’ here. He is not saying that Newman equated conscience with feeling, but rather that conscience, which is a mental act, yields distinct feelings in the presence of the acts which it judges.[4])

O’Dwyer continues:

‘As a dictate it commands and forbids, carries a sanction in the pain which follows its violation, and these feelings, in Newman’s opinion, carry the mind forward to some Being outside itself, which “vaguely reaches forward to something beyond self, and dimly discerns a sanction higher than self for its decisions”. […]

‘The case stands thus: As to our power of distinguishing right from wrong Newman asks, where does it come from? Then the human mind not only discriminates right from wrong, as the eye discriminates between different colours, but together with the difference, recognises the further note of authority. Whence, he asks, comes its sanction? These things point to the Author of the moral law, as its ultimate source and its true sanction. […]

‘That is Newman’s argument. Looking into his own mind a man sees, not God, not religion, but the mind’s own operations, which, by their very nature, lead him to infer the existence of their Author, and that under aspects which appeal to the imagination and minister to its functions.

‘The whole process is carried on, from first to last, under the direction and control of the intellect. Its suggestions and presentations feed and sustain the imagination and feelings. Sentiment, and feeling, and all such activities of the human mind are, in themselves, blind, and may lead us in any direction, the wrong as well as the right, unless they are guided and regulated by the intellect.’[5]

First, this is a proof for the existence of God, through the use of natural reason. It does not refer to coming to know the content of divine revelation.

Second, some modernists were unable even to affirm God’s existence with certainty. Quite unlike them, Newman held that this proof from conscience – along with other traditional proofs, such as the ‘Five Ways’ – affirms God’s existence with certainty.

Third, even if this proof was referring to revelation (as opposed to God’s existence), appealing to internal motives of credibility is not per se illegitimate – although it can become so, if they are given priority over the external motives. But Newman does no such thing. One does not have to like it, or prefer it to the Five Ways. Benard points out that his contributions were ‘not a substitute for traditional apologetics’ but rather auxiliary and preliminary.[6]

And this, in turn, is a first step to understanding his comment about offering a toast to conscience before the Roman Pontiff. Conscience is, in a certain sense, ontologically prior to the act of submission to the Roman Pontiff. It is conscience which commands a man to make the assent of faith in the face of the motives of credibility – not because he feels it to be true, but because he comes to know it to be obligatory. As O’Dwyer summarises:

‘For Newman himself, that knowledge, as we have seen, originates in the very intimations of duty by conscience, and he holds that, as these intimations are more fully obeyed, not only does the knowledge of God from within become clearer, and His image more vividly reflected from the external world, but the whole man, intellect, will, and feelings comes more fully under the influence of religion; the sense of sin is borne in more oppressively upon him; the recognition of his own corruption more deeply pierces him; in a word, he finds himself in the frame of mind described by St. Paul, in chap. vi. of the Romans, of one who felt the conflict between his higher and his lower nature, in which he cries out quis liberabit?

‘And it is Newman’s view that, if to a man so disposed, the truth of Our Lord’s Gospel were presented, he would respond to it, or rather he would have the natural preparation for responding to it, not merely by a dry assent of the intellect, but by an act of moral duty which, by God’s grace, would include intellect, and will, and heart, that is the whole man.’[7]

Anyone who would call this ‘modernism’ would be advised to re-read Pascendi Dominici Gregis.

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Figurative language

This discussion brings us back to the chapter of the work to which Bishop Sanborn was referring (the Letter to the Duke of Norfolk).

In this chapter, Newman refers to conscience as ‘the voice of God in the nature and heart of man’. Is this a legitimate way of speaking, even figuratively?

We have already seen above, and in the previous part, that Newman’s conception of conscience is correct, follows St Thomas, and appears to be substantially the same as that held by Bishop Sanborn himself. By calling it ‘the voice of God’, he is simply saying that the stern imperative command and effect of conscience bear witness to the natural law, which is the eternal law of God as imprinted on rational creatures, and whose sanction is derived from God.

It is therefore quite properly called ‘the voice of God’ and a communication from God to the rational creature – not in some sentimental or mystical sense, but precisely in the natural, intellectual sense that St Thomas and others explain it.

From this, we can see that he is not trying to say that mystical conceptions of conscience prove God exists, because we can feel or hear it to be so. Even less is he talking about conscience mediating matters of supernatural revelation – in fact, he specifically excludes this (along with the truth of all other speculative propositions – as we have seen).

Newman’s conclusion – that all this leads to proof of God’s existence – flows from observations on the nature of conscience itself, as properly understood. He is discussing the act of the intellect judging acts to be done here and now, and the natural law, knowable through reason.

Further on, Newman uses other figurative language which Bishop Sanborn finds offensive:

‘Conscience is not a long-sighted selfishness, nor a desire to be consistent with oneself; but it is a messenger from Him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by His representatives.

‘Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ, a prophet in its informations, a monarch in its peremptoriness, a priest in its blessings and anathemas, and, even though the eternal priesthood throughout the Church could cease to be, in it the sacerdotal principle would remain and would have a sway.’[8]

(Obviously, the last sentence is hyperbole and talking about what is impossible. How else could someone talk about an ‘eternal’ priesthood passing away?)

St Thomas uses similarly figurative language:

‘[C]onscience is said to witness, to bind, or incite, and also to accuse, torment, or rebuke.’[9]

It would be very mistaken to take this figurative language and to conclude, against all actual evidence, that Newman is suggesting that conscience is what Bishop Sanborn calls ‘some special faculty in your brain or in your intellect or something like that where you get signals from heaven. Some sort of telephone to Heaven about what’s true and what’s false.’

‘The aboriginal Vicar of Christ’

Now, regarding the phrase ‘aboriginal Vicar of Christ’. Let’s first observe that adjectives qualify the nouns to which they are attached – and that the adjective used is ‘aboriginal’, rather than ‘mental’ or ‘internal’. This is because Newman is referring to natural law and natural morality – not matters of faith.

But why then refer to the Pope at all?

Well, do we need to be reminded that the Roman Pontiff is the supreme teacher not only of faith, but also of morals? And is it not clear from all the foregoing that Newman is speaking of the realm of morals?

Is it not also clear from the very context of the Letter, which we have already discussed – namely, that it pertains to the question of whether papal infallibility renders Catholics the moral and mental slaves of the pope?

Bishop Sanborn states that Bishop Barron’s analysis of Newman is accurate, and characterises the text as follows:

‘[Bishop Robert Barron is] giving this idea of conscience as exactly what Newman says, it’s the Vicar of Christ in your soul.

‘Well that is, that means, why do we need a pope if have the vicar of Christ in souls? Why do we need a church? This is pure Protestantism. This is free examination of the scriptures – the Holy Ghost comes and tells me what I should think. Well, why do we have a Church? Why did St Peter receive the keys? Why is there the magisterium of the Church?

‘And as I said, conscience only regards the moral law, it does not regard the truths of the faith or anything like that. The faith is something objective, it is taught by the Church, you have to discover it.’

Further along, he states:

Bishop Sanborn: ‘… his principles are modernist. That idea of conscience is precisely modernist.

Interviewer: ‘But it ties in, that’s why Bishop Barron likes it so much.’ [Laughing]

Sanborn: ‘Oh yes, you know, you have the phone to God. You have the internet connection to Heaven.’ [Both laughing]

We have already seen that Newman’s discussion of conscience explicitly excludes ‘the truths of the faith or anything like that’. As such, Bishop Sanborn’s condemnations are based on a false understanding of the texts.

But we could also ask: given that Newman says, figuratively, that the conscience is the ‘aboriginal vicar of Christ’, and given that Bishop Sanborn states that this means that the conscience is ‘the phone to God’ and an ‘internet connection to Heaven’, are we not obliged to conclude that the bishop is saying that the pope is ‘the phone to God’ and ‘the internet connection to Heaven’?

This would, of course, represent an extremely flawed presentation of the papacy and of papal infallibility, quite akin to the nonsensical ideas of constant (or even intermittent) inspiration imputed to us by fanatical and uninformed anti-Catholics.[10] So much for that.

But what of Bishop Sanborn’s questions about the necessity of the Church?

“Why do we need a Church?”

At this stage, most of the foregoing analysis should be answering these questions by itself. In some ways, the answers increasingly seem anti-climactic – but this is only because the presuppositions behind the questions have been shown to miss the mark so drastically. But to continue:

There is nothing in Newman’s comments to count against the necessity of the Church at all. Newman himself even answers the question directly. Having discussed the nature of conscience in the abstract, he recognises the effects of original sin in darkening the intellect, and rendering conscience insufficient in many concrete cases, even to the natural law. This is to say nothing of its inability to reach supernatural truth of divine revelation, which he says ‘is so distinct from the teaching of nature and beyond it’.[11]

He concludes that conscience ‘urgently demands’ existence of the Church, the Pope and the hierarchy:

‘But the sense of right and wrong, which is the first element in religion, is so delicate, so fitful, so easily puzzled, obscured, perverted, so subtle in its argumentative methods, so impressible by education, so biassed by pride and passion, so unsteady in its course, that, in the struggle for existence amid the various exercises and triumphs of the human intellect, this sense is at once the highest of all teachers, yet the least luminous; and the Church, the Pope, the Hierarchy are, in the Divine purpose, the supply of an urgent demand.’[12]

In the sections censured by Bishop Sanborn, Newman is talking about the importance of conscience in human life. He uses ecclesiastical language to illustrate this – Vicar of Christ, priest, sacerdotal principle – but there can be no confusion about his meaning to an unprejudiced mind.

He is talking about conscience in relation to morality, and about something natural, distinct from the order of grace – whilst acknowledging that the same God who speaks to us through grace and revelation also speaks to us, in a different means, through nature.

Elsewhere, he proposes that conscience is itself what commands us to submit to the Church, the divinely-appointed teacher of faith and morals, and to purify and conform our intellect and will (and conscience) to her.

The thrust of Gladstone’s pamphlet was that, with Vatican I, Catholics had replaced morality and conscience with the will of the reigning Pontiff – and that this made Catholics unsound with regard to their duties to the nation. It is for this reason that Newman forcefully states that it is untrue that Catholics have replaced morality and conscience with the will of the Pope. He also states that it is conscience itself which prescribes submission to the pope and the assent of faith, once confronted with the motives of credibility. In the very same chapter, he writes:

‘Both Popes [Gregory XVI and Pius IX] certainly scoff at the so-called “liberty of conscience,” but there is no scoffing of any Pope, in formal documents addressed to the faithful at large, at that most serious doctrine, the right and the duty of following that Divine Authority, the voice of conscience, on which in truth the Church herself is built. […]’

(Let’s pause and note that, as we saw in the previous part, Newman has already explained and rejected ‘liberty of conscience’, along with the religious liberty which it entails – and stated elsewhere in the same work that ‘of all conceivable absurdities it is the wildest and most stupid’, and that these two popes were being too kind in calling it a deliramentum.)

‘[…] did the Pope speak against Conscience in the true sense of the word, he would commit a suicidal act. He would be cutting the ground from under his feet. His very mission is to proclaim the moral law, and to protect and strengthen that “Light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world.” On the law of conscience and its sacredness are founded both his authority in theory and his power in fact.

‘Whether this or that particular Pope in this bad world always kept this great truth in view in all he did, it is for history to tell. I am considering here the Papacy in its office and its duties, and in reference to those who acknowledge its claims.’[13]

Note well – he is talking of those who already acknowledge the papal claims; and he is talking of the morality of individual acts here and now, rather than the truth or otherwise of dogma.

Loyalty and after-dinner toasts

We noted in the last piece that Bishop Sanborn was made sick by an event which did not in fact happen – namely, a misunderstanding of Newman’ comments about raising a toast to conscience. Here are the remarks:

‘I add one remark. Certainly, if I am obliged to bring religion into after-dinner toasts, (which indeed does not seem quite the thing) I shall drink—to the Pope, if you please,—still, to Conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards.’[14]

The after-dinner toast, at that time, was not an idle affectation offered by eccentrics, for anyone whom they choose – as it seems to have become in many cases today. Rather, ‘The Loyal Toast’ is what was (and is) offered to the monarch at formal state functions. We can also call to mind the way some would offer their alternative toast to ‘The King over the Water’ as a means of signifying their loyalty to the Jacobite line.

This seems to have been a live issue for Catholics. In the very next chapter of the Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, Newman talks of ‘Church-of-Englandism, its cry being the dinner toast, “Church and king.”‘[15]

In January 1859, The Rambler, a Catholic journal with which Newman was briefly involved later that year (at the behest of his ordinary, Bishop Ullathorne, and Cardinal Wiseman), featured an article discussing the matter of toasting the pope.[16]

This article presents the practice itself as controversial. Some Catholics saw bringing divine things into the end of a meal as vulgar and profane. Newman seems to be alluding to this when he says that bringing religion into after-dinner toasts is ‘not quite the thing’. Even as an Anglican, Newman preached a sermon about reverence and the presence of God, in which he made the following very relevant remark:

‘Another instance of want of fear, is the bold and unscrupulous way in which men speak of the Holy Trinity and the Mystery of the Divine Nature. They use sacred terms and phrases, should occasion occur, in a rude and abrupt way, and discuss points of doctrine concerning the All-holy and Eternal, even (if I may without irreverence state it) over their cups, perhaps arguing against them, as if He were such a one as themselves.’[17]

According to The Rambler‘s article, this practice of toasting the pope also aroused ‘the indignation of Protestants’ because it was often made before or instead of toasting the Queen. This in turn prompted ‘so many trivial quarrels’ – the article considered when, how, for precisely what purpose such toasts were offered, and even whether they should be offered at all.

This Rambler article may have been intended as a defence of Cardinal Wiseman’s loyalty, who was satirised on this very matter in Punch a few months before, in September 1858:

‘The Ultramontane Toastmaster – At the dinner which the priests gave at Ballynasloe to Cardinal Wiseman, the usual disloyal toast [to the Pope] was drunk, and the usual loyal toast [to the Queen] omitted. […]

‘The people of Ireland will drink the Queen’s health in spite of their priests, who, at least when that toast is proposed, are unable, though they may wish, to deny the cup to the laity.’[17]

More importantly for us, it shows that some non-Catholic Englishmen saw such alternative toasts – whether in place of the Loyal Toast, or taking precedent over it – as a mark of disloyalty to the nation.

This issue, whether Gladstone raised it or not, serves as the metaphorical summary of his accusation against English Catholics.

Whether, in the Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, Newman was responding to a particular accusation about toasting the pope, or to general debates on the matter, the context is clear and there can be no question about it.

Newman was not summarising his thoughts on the papacy, but rather a chapter on whether papal infallibility renders Catholics the mental slaves and ‘sleeper cells’ of a foreign power. Regardless of any direct links between Newman’s comments and those in the 1859 article, the latter certainly set out the multi-pronged challenge facing Catholics:

  • Toast the Pope first and Queen second, and thereby indicate disloyalty to the nation
  • Toast the Queen first, and the Pope second, and thereby indicate disloyalty to the Church
  • Withdraw the toast to the Pope, and thereby indicate disloyalty to the Church by omission.

Once the prongs of challenge are understood, we can understand Newman’s response in the Letter. It seems to be answering an hostile test, or a trick question, which is emblematic of Gladstone’ challenge even if he does not express it in his pamphlet: “Would you and your co-religionists take the ‘Disloyal Toast’ to the Pope after dinner, and thus show your inability to be loyal Englishmen?”

He responds by turning the presuppositions upside-down. In answer to those posing the test and levelling the accusations of disloyalty (or even just trying to understand), Newman states that he will indeed toast the Pope, but that he will toast conscience first – because it is in conscience that all loyalty to the Church, Pope and the nation finds its sure foundation, and it is conscience, duly formed, which commands us to submit in to each.

Further, far from showing any unwillingness or reluctance to toast the Pope, he affirms his willingness to do so – despite it being seen as vulgar and ‘not quite the thing’, and regardless of whether it is perceived as an indication of disloyalty to the nation.

It is unjust and incorrect for Bishop Sanborn to present all this as a real event, as if Newman was tactlessly trying to teach people a lesson about the papacy, bringing them down a notch, and toasting something tantamount to religious liberty and protestantism. It is not even correct to say that this was still the purpose of these comment, even if the bishop mistook it for a real event.

This more common interpretation makes no sense in the context of the chapter. The framing of such an interpretation is all wrong, and also abstracted from the reality and conventions which would have been obvious at the time.

On the contrary, this short comment was a sort of parable, summarising the chapter, affirming loyalty to the Pope in the face of those harassing English Catholics about their supposed allegiance to a foreign prince, and confounding the false dichotomy between being a good Catholic and a loyal subject of the Crown.


While some of these points require some investigation and explanation, they are completely clear to anyone who is interested in the truth of the matter.

But someone who wants to condemn a Cardinal as a modernist and a protestant – especially if he is a bishop, or has an online platform – is not entitled to be uninterested in the truth of the matter.

In these pieces, we have seen that Newman’s definition of conscience is correct, and the same as that held by St Thomas and even by Bishop Sanborn himself. We have seen that Bishop Sanborn misrepresents the passages in question; and that, despite being quite unaware of what Newman was even talking about, he is prepared to condemn this cardinal and great man as a protestant and a modernist.

For all these reasons, I believe that it would be right for the video in question to be taken down, and for Bishop Sanborn to retract and repair such indefensible remarks as these:

‘[Newman’s] conversion was more of a dragging the Church to himself, rather than dragging himself to the Church.

‘He loved Catholicism so he thought he would buy it and have it in his garage. He remained a protestant down deep, but he acquired some Catholicism. That’s my opinion of Newman.’

Interviewer: [Laughing] ‘I was going to say this, triggering the next Questions for the Rector episode, your Excellency, you’ll see, as some faithful clutch their pearls in shock.’

Sanborn: [Laughing] ‘I have a very low opinion of Cardinal Newman – very, very low.’

In light of all that we have covered in these essays, it could be more pertinent to wonder what Cardinal Newman’s opinion of Bishop Sanborn might be.

Newman – Letter to the Duke of Norfolk
Newman – An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine
Newman – The Idea of a University
Bishop E.T. O’Dwyer – Cardinal Newman and the Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis
Fr E.D. Benard – A Preface to Newman’s Theology

John Henry Newman, Anti-Modernist – Defending his name against the accusers
Part I
Part II
Part III
John Henry Newman, Anti-Ecumenist
Bishop and Cardinal (Part I) – Bishop Sanborn and Newman’s understanding of conscience
Bishop and Cardinal (Part II) – Bishop Sanborn, Newman, conscience as voice of God and aboriginal vicar of Christ, and after-dinner toasts
Bishop and Cardinal (Part III) – Final thoughts on Newman’s supposedly ‘very friendly’ relationship with Baron Friedrich von Hügel
Newman on “The Eternal See”
Did Cardinal Newman want to “rethink” the papacy?
Bishop Ullathorne’s vindication of Newman’s writings on Our Lady

Newman’s Views
Should converts set themselves up as teachers? Newman’s answer


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[1] MHT Seminary, ‘Questions for the Rector | Ep. 5: The Barron/Shapiro Interview’, YouTube, 7 Nov 2023. The comments start around the 12 minute mark. I will not be continually offering references and timestamps – this should be sufficient. Please see n. 1 of the first part for a few brief comments about this videos treatment of the topic of salvation.

[2] John Henry Newman, Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, 1875. Published in Certain Difficulties felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching Considered, Vol. II, p 256. Longmans, Green, and Co., London, 1900. Available at

[3] Bishop E.T. O’Dwyer, Cardinal Newman and the Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, p 11-2. Longmans, Green and Co., London 1908.

[4] In the video, Bishop Sanborn seems to suggest that Newman believed that conscience is a faculty. In fact, as we have seen throughout the chapter, Newman understands, with St Thomas, that conscience is an act. This is implicit or indirectlt expressed throughout his treatment, and stated explicitly in An Essay on the Grammar of Assent, where he writes: ‘Conscience has a legitimate place among our mental acts’. cf. p 105.

[5] Ibid. 12-4.

[6] Fr E.D. Benard, A Preface to Newman’s Theology, 21. B. Herder Book Co., London, 1945. 

[7] O’Dwyer 28-9

[8] Newman 248-9

[9] St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I, Q79 A13.

[10] As an example, consider Van Noort:

‘The efficient cause of infallibility is the assistance of God or of the Holy Spirit. This assistance: a. is a help inferior in nature to revelation and inspiration […]

‘It is different from inspiration, through which a document is written in such fashion as to be the Word of God and comes from the mouth of God in such a way that God is its principal author and man the instrumental author only. A decree issued under divine assistance, however, is the word of the Church, and its principal author is the pope or a council. It is a question here of inspiration in the strict sense, such as that which the sacred authors enjoyed; any divine assistance could be loosely referred to as inspiration.

And elsewhere:

‘[I]nfallibility does not imply inspiration. An infallible decree does not possess the same sort of dignity as Sacred Scripture.’

But Bishop Sanborn knows all this. This is surely not what he thinks is meant by the infallibility of the pope. Why, then, attribute such ideas to Newman when he refers to conscience as ‘the aboriginal Vicar of Christ’? The answer seems most likely because he is assuming that which he needs to prove – that Newman is a modernist.

Van Noort, ‘Christ’s Church,’ Dogmatic Theology Vol. II. 1957, nn. 98, 178. Trans. Castelot and Murphy, The Newman Press, Westminster Maryland.

[11] Newman 254

[12] Newman 253-4

[13] Newman 252-3

[14] Newman 261

[15] Newman 264

[16] ‘Toasting the Pope’, in The Rambler, pp 55-63. January 1859, Vol XI New Series, Part LXI. Available at:

Regarding Newman’s brief involvement:

‘It seemed, however, to be a choice between the Review dying and his taking the editorship. Under the deepest sense of duty, and after a good deal of hesitation and consultation with the fathers of the Oratory, after praying long to know God’s Will, he accepted it in March 1859. He did so at the wish of Bishop Ullathorne and Cardinal Wiseman, and after explicitly writing to W. G. Ward, who with Oakeley was temporary editor of the Dublin, that he contemplated no kind of rivalry with that periodical. His letters show that he regarded the undertaking as a duty—a most important one, though in some ways a most unwelcome one. And he seems to have felt somewhat bitterly that his motives were little appreciated. He was credited with wishing to exercise influence, to propagate his own ideas.’

Wilfrid Ward, The Life of John Henry Cardinal Newman based on his private journals and correspondence, Vol I. pp 480-1. (And for UK readers). Longmans, Green and Co, London 1912, pp 480-1.

[17] John Henry Newman, ‘Reverence, a Belief in God’s Presence’, In Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol V. Page 970 of the Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1997, pp 967-966. Available at:

[18] Included in ‘Modern Humorists’, in The Dublin Review, Vol. XLVIII, May and August, p 145. Thomas Richardson and Son, London 1860, pp 107-149.

7 thoughts on “Bishop and Cardinal – What should we make of Bishop Sanborn’s condemnations of Cardinal Newman? (Part II)

  1. Daniel Naegele

    Thank you for these two articles on Cardinal Newman and Bishop Sanborn. I had long held a similar low opinion of Cardinal Newman, simply due to misinformation and misunderstanding on my part. After reading these articles and others on your site about Cardinal Newman, I realize I had a completely mistaken view of him and his work. I will make efforts in the future to defend Cardinal Newman when I’m confronted with [misinformed] attacks on his works or person. Thank you again, and God bless you and your work.

    The WM Review:

    Thanks for this Daniel – we really appreciate this frank message!

  2. John

    Although a very correct series of articles, it is unfortunate that the author does not make the conclusion that the same paranoid and quarrelsome mentality that gives birth to Bishop Sanborn’s ill informed slander against St John Henry Newman gives birth to the entire sedevacantist sectarian movement.

    The WM Review:

    Hi John. Are you accusing him of being part of a sectarian movement, or all those who consider Francis etc not to have been popes?

    1. John

      My meaning was the latter.

      The WM Review:

      That latter meaning is, in its turn, suggestive of a sectarianism of its own. It presumes that communion and charity is broken with Catholics who happen to form a different theological conclusion, based on a contingent fact in a very confusing situation time of history.

      I recommend you take a pause and reconsider the state of the question. Here are some materials on the question, and a better way of dealing with those with whom we disagree.

    2. Darrell Wright

      If we can’t call John XXIII, Paul VI, or JPII “Saint,” then we can’t call Newman a saint either. And if one thinks the 3 papal claimants should be called saints, then he has not seen the suppressed truth about them.

      BTW, canonizations have always been considered infallible exercises of the papal magisterium. So if Francis or any papal claimant canonizes someone who obviously should not be, then that means the papal claimant is not a true pope.

      Ven. Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) had seen in her visions a “counterfeit church of darkness” occupying Rome at some time in the future — in an era when she also saw the priest facing the people when saying Mass.

      “Rome will lose the faith and become the seat of the Antichrist. The Church will be in eclipse. The world will be in dismay.” (Our Lady of La Salette, 1846)

      Padre Pio “around 1960,” as Fr Gabriel Amorth, later chief exorcist of Rome, recalls, told him, “You know, Gabriele? It is Satan who has been introduced into the bosom of the Church and within a very short time will come to rule a false Church.” (Interview with Fr Amorth by José María Zavala, in The Best Kept Secret of Fatima) Could it have been 1958 and Fr. Amorth was being discreet?

      In 1963, at the beginning of Paul VI’s reign, Padre Pio embraced Father Luigi Villa, saying to him: “Be brave, now…for the Church has already been invaded by Freemasonry!” and then stated: “Freemasonry has already made it into the slippers of the Pope!”

      “In the Third Secret it is foretold, among other things, that the Great Apostasy in the Church will begin at the top.” (Cardinal Ciappi, 1995)

      “He [Satan] will set up a counter-church which will be the ape of the Church, because he, the Devil, is the ape of God. It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content. It will be a mystical body of the Antichrist that will in all externals resemble the mystical body of Christ.” (Fulton J. Sheen, Communism and the Conscience of the West, 1948, pp. 24-25)

      “Even if Catholics faithful to Tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ.” (St Athanasius)

      “Is it tradition? Ask no more.” (St John Chrysostom)

      1. Darrell Wright

        Some will wonder what I mean by “suppressed truth” in my statement: “And if one thinks the 3 papal claimants should be called saints, then he has not seen the suppressed truth about them.”

        A few good sources:

        There never could have been the Vatican II revolution in doctrine, worship, discipline under true popes. But how could that happen? I and a growing number of others see the Church’s “9/11” in the vitiated 1958 papal conclave.

      2. John Lewis

        Hi Darrell Wright,

        The issue being discussed in these articles is not whether Newman was a Saint, rather whether he is guilty of the accusations that Bp Sanborn has made against him. They are two separate and distinct questions and only the latter has been addressed, or even considered by S.D. Wrights series of articles so I’m not sure why you feel the need to comment on the former issue here.

        I need to draw your attention to a problem with one of your quotes.


        Please stop using this as a justification for any opinions you may hold as we are forbidden to discuss these unapproved messages.



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