Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cardinal Newman on Anti-Catholic Prejudice




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Not believing [that] (1) priests believe what they say; (2) are continent; (3) [that] converts are satisfied—looking out for some change in them. The consequence of this deep prejudice is that from the nature of the case there are no ways of overcoming it. If Catholics are particular, devout, or charitable, etc., they are said to be hypocrites; if all things apparently simple, they think there is something in the background; they call them plausible; if nothing can be found against them, how well they conceal things; if they argue well, what clever sophists; if charitable, they have vast wealth; if they succeed, not of God's blessing, but of craft. I wish we had half the cleverness they impute to us. Hence they circulate lies about us, not inquiring the authority, and when they are disproved, instead of giving over, circulate others which can't be. When any particular lie is put out, they embrace it at once as being so likely, i.e. like their prejudice. They take not this age and place, but a thousand miles away and two hundred years ago. Catholics alone can suffer this, because they are in all times and places; they could not, e.g., treat Quakers so. . . . They say to themselves, if this is not true, yet something else is true quite as bad. . . . Now the remedy for all this is to see us . . . They cannot keep up their theories against us, but they are afraid to be puzzled with something on our side. They have a sort of feeling that if they were to see us we should contradict their prejudices, so they do all they can to keep us out of sight. Hence no person hardly who has been much abroad and lived with the people can keep up their prejudices; no one who has read much history: the strength of prejudice is with those who are not informed.

(Sermon Notes of John Henry Cardinal Newman: 1849-1878 [edited by the Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory; London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1913, 18-19]; “Prejudice as a Cause Why Men Are Not Catholics,” 2 September 1849)

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