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Keys. From Anglican to Catholic cardinal: understanding John Henry Newman

A British professor, writer and cardinal is one step closer to sainthood. But who exactly is John Henry Newman and what makes him so exceptional?


John Henry Newman was born in 1801 in London. He was a profound thinker and writer of his era, and a member of the Church of England. After attending Trinity College in Oxford, he began a university career, eventually landing at Oxford University. 


Blessed Newman eagerly sought out the truth, studying various positions and proposed ideas. A very anti-Catholic Newman then, while researching more and more, discovered that Catholicism seemed to have the answers. 

“He lived a profound Christian life, always trying to put into practice whatever he understood. He didn't like having an idea and not doing anything about it. he didn't like believing in something, but not letting it influence and guide his decisions and his unfoully life.”

He believed he had it with the Catholic Church, converting to the faith. This cost him his job at Oxford, numerous relationships, even family turned against him.


He was a part of the Oxford Movement, which began in the University of Oxford in 1833. The goal was to transform the Church of England by inserting certain Catholic elements 

"Great people there wanted to bring new life and new vision, new vitality into the Anglican communion at the time. To that end, they read the fathers of the Church, those great early thinkers of the Church. They wanted those principles to come again in the Anglican Church.”

Their goal was to do this by incorporating the principles of St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, and other great thinkers and saints of the early Church.


As a professor and passionate advocate for education, John Henry Newman founded an elementary school, a secondary school and was invited to set up the Catholic University in Dublin. 

“He was very much one who put education into practice and he saw it as vitally important.” 

He also proposed to have a Catholic chaplain at Oxford, which was against many of the norms at the time. The idea got shot down.


In October 1845, John Henry Newman became a Catholic at age 45. It is his step toward the Church that he believes is the fullness of the faith. 

Two years later, he becomes a priest and then, seems to have skipped a step, because 30 years later, he was directly named cardinal. 

“A new pope emerges, his name is Leo XIII. And he made his first list of cardinals and put Newman in it, without being a bishop, as a priest. In conversation once with an English friend, the pope said, 'I made Newman a cardinal because I wanted to show the greatness of the Church. It's enigmatic.'”

Newman died at 89 years old, in 1890. From this pope since, all popes have spoken about or taught many of his writings, even leading up to today. 

Benedict XVI beatified him in Birmingham in 2010.

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