Online and in Person Symposium

Saint John Henry Newman and Catholic Modernism

Fall 2022 Newman Symposium

17–18 October 2022

Descent of the Modernists by E.J. Pace, 1922
National Institute for Newman Studies

Attend in Person or via Zoom Internet

  • Attend in person at the Gailliot Center for Newman Studies, 211 N. Dithridge St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213
  • Or attend via Zoom Internet from anywhere in the world. A Zoom link will be emailed to registrants prior to the event. For security reasons, all participants will be required to login using the exact name they used during registration. 
Zoom Internet

Saint John Henry Newman and Catholic Modernism

In the years following Newman’s death, the Roman Catholic Modernist controversy emerged with force, as core Christian ideas—such as divine revelation, the transmission of faith, and the mutability of doctrine and dogma—were at stake given the challenges posed by rising historical consciousness and the increasingly sophisticated tools and methods of historical science and biblical exegesis. Newman’s legacy itself became contested as opposing sides sought to incorporate his thought in support of their own positions, while church authorities prepared to quell the controversy at the beginning of the momentous twentieth century.

This symposium will explore the Roman Catholic Modernist crisis from a variety of angles and methodologies. Leading scholars from around the world will contextualize the controversy with greater precision, as well as introduce new insights into its leading figures. In addition, the conference will yield new understandings of the Modernist crisis itself, aspects of which are still with us, so-to-speak, despite the Second Vatican Council’s largely successful syntheses of modern thought and the church’s living tradition.

Time (Eastern Time, UTC −05)

Welcome and Introduction: Chris Cimorelli, 12:45-1:00 PM EST
Keynote: Claus Arnold, 1:00-2:15 PM EST
Session 1: 2:30-4:00 PM EST

Session 2, 9:00-10:30 AM EST
Roundtable Discussion and Closing Remarks, 10:45 AM-12:00 PM EST

Claus Arnold
Keynote Lecture - Monday, 17 October, 1:00-2:15 PM EST

Newman and “Modernism”: A Matter of Definition

Claus Arnold

Professor of Medieval and Modern Church History at Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

Ever since Pope Pius X commended Bishop O’Dwyer for his defense of Cardinal Newman against the claim that the latter’s teaching had been compromised by the Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, “Newman and the Modernists” has become a classic in Newman studies. Was Newman a forerunner of “modernism” or did he simply fall victim to false instrumentalizations by “modernists” like Henri Bremond? The presentation will try to show that the respective definitions of “modernism” and the framing of the modernist crisis imply differing accounts of the relationship between Newman and “modernism.” Is it possible to view this relationship in a non-partisan historical-theological way?

Claus Arnold is Professor of Medieval and Modern Church History at Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz. He studied Catholic Theology at Tübingen and Oxford and has taught at the universities of Frankfurt am Main and Münster. His research interests include the history of theological censuring by the Roman Inquisition in the sixteenth and nineteenth/twentieth centuries and the Modernist Crisis in Catholicism.

William L. Portier
Lecture - Monday, 17 October, 2:30-3:15 PM EST

“A Fly in the Focus of a Burning Glass”: George Tyrrell’s Troubled Relationship with John Henry Newman, 1896–1909

William L. Portier

Professor Emeritus at the University of Dayton and Theologian in Residence at Mount St. Mary’s University, MD

Issues such as the historical and subjective mediation of divine revelation lay at the heart of the modernist crisis. Those remembered as modernists found modern Scholasticism inadequate in the face of such issues. In an earlier generation, Newman approached them creatively with a different style and set of categories. Many involved in the modernist crisis turned to him. Studies of Newman and Modernism abound. After a brief survey of such studies, this paper turns to Irish Jesuit George Tyrrell (1861–1909). Tyrrell’s elegant style led, much to his chagrin, to comparisons with Newman. He likened them to putting “a fly in the focus of a burning glass.” Tyrrell’s troubled relationship with Newman represents, in many ways, Newman’s relationship to the modernist crisis in general. Contemporary Tyrrell biographer Nicholas Sagovsky has treated Tyrrell’s complex intellectual relationship with Newman extensively. Building on his work, this paper focuses on Tyrrell’s final disappointment with Newman over issues concerning revelation and its expression.

William L. Portier is Professor Emeritus at the University of Dayton and Theologian in Residence at Mount St. Mary’s University, MD. He is the author of Divided Friends: Portraits of the Roman Catholic Modernist Crisis in the United States (CUA Press, 2014) and Every Catholic An Apostle: A Life of Thomas A. Judge, CM, 1868–1933 (CUA Press, 2018).
Elizabeth A. Huddleston
Lecture - Monday, 17 October, 3:15-4:00 PM EST

Newman and the Modernist Crisis in England: The Curious Case of Wilfrid Ward

Elizabeth A. Huddleston

Head of Research and Publications and Associate Editor, NSJ, National Institute for Newman Studies

Newman’s thought was front and center for Englishman Wilfrid Philip Ward, who would eventually become one of the leading interpreters of Newman’s writings during one of the most trepidatious times in modern Catholic history. This talk seeks to contextualize Wilfrid Ward’s interpretation of Newman’s writings within his context as an English lay academic and son of Oxford Movement theologian William George Ward, alongside his attention to the modernist controversies that were primarily occurring on the Continent as catalyst for gauging the influence of the reach of the modernist crisis in England. Particularly, this presentation looks at Ward’s participation in the Synthetic Society as well as the circumstances surrounding his publications to better understand whether his line of philosophical/theological thought are directly engaged in the same topics as the French modernists or if there are significant differences between modernism as it was experienced in England and that of the French modernist epicenter. 

Elizabeth Huddleston is the Head of Research and Publications at the National Institute for Newman Studies and Associate Editor for the Newman Studies Journal. She holds a bachelor's degree in Music Education from the University of Georgia and a master's degree in Theological Studies from the University of Dayton, and a doctorate in Theology also from the University of Dayton. Her dissertation is entitled, Divine Revelation as Rectrix Stella: The Evolution of Wilfrid Ward's Doctrine of Divine Revelation, which was completed in 2019 under the direction of Dr. William L. Portier. Dr. Huddleston's research interests include the reception of Newman's doctrine of revelation in nineteenth and twentieth-century theology, the relationship between music and theology, ecumenical and inter-faith conversations, and the intersection of dogmatic theology with Christian mysticism. 

Jeffrey Morrow
Lecture - Tuesday, 18 October, 9:00-9:45 AM EST

Loisy and Newman: Newman's Contested Modernist Legacy

Jeffrey Morrow

Professor of Catholic Theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology, Seton Hall University

St. John Henry Newman is often regarded as an inspiration for Roman Catholic modernism. Alfred Loisy in particular is singled out for his appropriation of Newman; Loisy is viewed as bringing Newman's thought regarding the development of doctrine into the world of Catholic biblical scholarship. This paper examines Newman's contested influence on Loisy and the relationship between their work.

Jeffrey L. Morrow, PhD, is Professor of Catholic Theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology, Seton Hall University. Author of Alfred Loisy and Modern Biblical Studies his research focuses on the history of biblical scholarship.

Shaun Blanchard
Lecture - Tuesday, 18 October, 9:45-10:30 AM EST

The Ghost of Pascendi: The Vatican II Council Fathers and the Legacy of Modernism

Shaun Blanchard

Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute for Newman Studies

This essay examines the ways in which Catholic "Modernism"—a complex and disputed term—was a "ghost" on the council floor at the Second Vatican Council. The term "ghost" here signifies a key episode in the church’s collective memory, which influenced the drafting of conciliar texts and the subsequent debate over them. Alongside the recent phenomenon of Modernism, the council fathers also wrestled with the "ghost" of the Reformation (an old "ghost," but also a contemporary reality in Protestantism) as well as with the ghost of Jansenism and vanquished radical Catholic reformers of early modernity. Related to the notion of "ghosts" on the council floor is the concept of a doctrinal text's "controlling function." The condemnations of Modernism, especially the encyclical Pascendi (1907) of Pius X, were evoked by anti-modernist council fathers during numerous debates, in an attempt to reassert the status quo or to demand the amendment of conciliar documents. This essay argues that unlike Protestants (who were guests at the council) and Jansenists (who were extinct), the ghost of the Modernists was particularly neuralgic since anti-modernists believed Modernism was a concrete contemporary reality and feared it had infiltrated the church, while many others believed its evocation was simply a slur. Understanding how anti-modernism was evoked and rebutted at Vatican II sheds important light on the Council and its achievements, setbacks, and failures.

Shaun Blanchard is Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute for Newman Studies in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A graduate of North Carolina, Oxford, and Marquette University, Shaun writes on a variety of topics in early modern and modern Catholicism. He is the author of The Synod of Pistoia and Vatican II (OUP: 2020) and, with Ulrich Lehner, co-edited The Catholic Enlightenment: A Global Anthology (CUA: 2021). Forthcoming works include a monograph study of the ecclesiology in the English-speaking world, an anthology of Jansenist sources (co-edited with Richard Yoder), and Vatican II: A Very Short Introduction (co-authored with Stephen Bullivant).

Fall 2022 Newman Symposium Registration

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211 N. Dithridge St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


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