Portsmouth Institute Conference on Newman: Rev. Ian Ker

The final lecture of the Portsmouth Institute’s 2010 conference on “Newman and the Intellectual Tradition” was given by Oxford Theology Professor Rev. Ian Ker, on “Newman’s (and Pope Benedict XVI’s) Hermeneutic of Continuity.” Introducing Rev. Ker was frequent Providence Journal contributor and Providence College Professor Fr. David Stokes.

(The remainder of Rev. Ker’s speech is available in the extended entry of this post.)
As the title suggests, the conference closed pretty deeply into the specificities of its subject, Newman, and the Church in which he will soon be a saint, the Roman Catholic Church. One point, however, that is broadly relevant to contemporary discourse in the United States is that it was not a healthy turn of events for the Catholic Church to be established as a state religion. As Ker reports Newman’s view: “Italy would be more religious were it necessary for religion to fight for its place.”
Another supremely relevant point derives from Newman’s observation that, in different times and places, monasteries became refuges for religious people when secular society became too oppressive. One application of that to the modern day might be that the Church must assert its presence more forcefully in education in order to extend that refuge beyond the proverbial monastery to the laity. How better could the Church model the signifying function of Christianity?

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