Thursday, November 13, 2003

On November 13, 1841
Venerable John Henry Newman, already shaken in his Anglicanism, wrote the following letter to his bishop to protest an early attempt at false ecumenism, in which various Christians in Jerusalem were to be 'united' under the Anglican bishop there- without any attempt to have them have the same theology.


It seems as if I were never to write to your Lordship without giving you pain, and I know that my present subject does not especially concern your Lordship; yet, after a great deal of anxious thought, I lay before you the enclosed Protest.

Your Lordship will observe that I am not asking for any notice of it, unless you think that I ought to receive one. I do this very serious act in obedience to my sense of duty.

If the English Church is to enter on a new course, and assume a new aspect, it will be more pleasant to me hereafter to think that I did not suffer so grievous an event to happen without bearing witness against it.

May I be allowed to say that I augur nothing but evil if we in any respect prejudice our title to be a branch of the Apostolic Church? That article of the Creed, I need hardly observe to your Lordship is of such constraining power, that if we will not claim it and use it for ourselves, others will use it in their own behalf against us. Men who learn, whether by means of documents or measures, whether from the statements or the acts of persons in authority, that our communion is not a branch of the One Church, I foresee with much grief, will be tempted to look out for that Church elsewhere.

It is to me a subject of great dismay that, as far as the Church has lately spoken out, on the subject of the opinions which I and others hold, those opinions are, not merely not sanctioned (for that I do not ask), but not even suffered.

I earnestly hope that your Lordship will excuse my freedom in thus speaking to you of some members of your Most Rev. and Right Rev. body. With every feeling of reverent attachment to your Lordship, I am, &c.


WHEREAS the Church of England has a claim on the allegiance of Catholic believers only on the ground of her own claim to be considered a branch of the Catholic Church:

And, whereas the recognition of heresy, indirect as well as direct, goes far to destroy such claim in the case of any religious body:

And, whereas to admit maintainers of heresy to communion without formal renunciation of their errors, goes far towards recognising the same:

And, whereas Lutheranism and Calvinism are heresies, repugnant to Scripture, springing up three centuries since, and anathematised by East as well as West:

And, whereas it is reported that the Most Rev. Primate and other Right Rev. Rulers of our Church have consecrated a Bishop, with a view to exercising spiritual jurisdiction over Protestant, that is, Lutheran and Calvinistic congregations in the East (under the provisions of an Act made in the last session of Parliament to amend an Act made in the twenty-sixth year of the reign of His Majesty King George III., intituled, 'an Act to empower the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Archbishop of York for the time being, to consecrate to the office of a Bishop persons being subjects or citizens of countries out of His Majesty's dominions'), dispensing at the same time, not in particular cases and accidentally, but as if on principle and universally, with any abjuration of errors on the part of such congregations, and with any reconciliation to the Church on the part of the presiding Bishop; thereby giving in some sort a formal recognition to the doctrines which such congregations maintain:

And, whereas the dioceses in England are connected together by so close an intercommunion, that what is done by authority in one immediately affects the rest:

On these grounds, I, in my place, being a Priest of the English Church, and Vicar of St. Mary's, Oxford, by way of relieving my conscience, do hereby solemnly protest against the measure aforesaid, and disown it, as removing our Church from her present ground, and tending to her disorganisation.


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