Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae: Americanism and Pope Leo XIII

Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae: Americanism and Pope Leo XIII

Written by Hilary White
The Remnant
Monday, May 30, 2016


When I first started investigating what was really going on in the Church, I was surprised to discover that our difficulties dated to well before the 1960s. I read such luminaries as Cardinal Newman writing in the 19th century against “liberalism.” It was a revelation that Catholic leaders had been warning for more than a hundred years against what I was seeing all around me. I was also surprised, given the habitual verbose opacity of modern prelates, to see how simple, forthright and understandable these pre-Conciliar popes were. It is some inspiring, and given our current troubles, comforting and encouraging stuff to read.

Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae is the letter from Pope Leo XIII to James Cardinal Gibbons, archbishop of Baltimore, warning against what the pope called “Americanism,” and certain trends of thought that he feared would undermine Catholic confidence in the Church’s authority. It can be seen now that his fears were well founded, and can at least reassure us that our troubles are not new, and did not appear ex nihilo from Vatican II.

The fact that there were voices within the Catholic Church of the US in the late 19th century calling for the same things that we see Pope Francis and his pals actually installing today, shows you that we’re still on the same path, fighting the same war that has been going on for hundreds of years. And Pope Leo’s responses will give us weapons to fight.

Read more at remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/catholic-social-teaching/item/2552-testem-benevolentiae-nostrae-americanism-and-pope-leo-xiii

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8 comments on “Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae: Americanism and Pope Leo XIII

  1. Cardinal Newman writing in the 19th century against “liberalism.”

    That would be the equivalent of Bernie Sanders warning us against socialism.

  2. I think you are being too harsh on Cardinal Newman. His loyalty to Church teaching is not questioned. What he did, however, was voice his own internal worries about a particular Pope. Surely that is something we must now all have sympathy with?
    I, for one, accept with obedience the doctrine of Papal Infallibility, but I sure find it hard, in practice, to apply it to the present occupant of the Holy See! I just know in faith that God will not allow him to make any ex Cathedra pronouncements. By voicing this worry, I am not, I hope, presenting myself as a possible heretic. There are times and events that will cause us to ask questions about articles of the Faith, questions more of feeling than of belief, but we walk on in obedience never the less.
    Given what Cardinal Newman had to face from within the Church, after his conversion, from some other Churchmen, I would be surprised if he didn’t express some concerns at times. The important thins is he stood by all Church teaching.

  3. There’s too much of Larson to reproduce here without losing the train of thought, which is essential to understand how Newman and Aquinas are diametrically opposed in their understanding of knowledge, reality, and faith. Here is a brief summary from Larson:

    Basically, in the Grammar of Assent, Newman invested 20 years (by his own admission) and almost 400 pages of dense ruminations attempting to do two things: 1) deprive the abstract formulations of dogma and the speculative and logical findings of theology (especially St. Thomas) of any real vitality in religious certitude and belief and, 2) to prove that the illative sense (inferential conclusions derived from experience, and the images which they produce in our minds) is the real and vital source of not only faith, but also our certitude in the possession of truth.

    St. Pius X in Pascendi clearly describes the role of experience and immanence in what constitutes “faith” to the Modernist. Newman’s “illative” sense and his recourse to experience places him very close the Modernist understanding. Dogma depends on the experience of the believer for its meaning, hence, every man has a different sense of the dogma. This can’t lead to certainty and truth, but only approximations and evolution of meaning.

    Once Newman’s epistemology is understood, and seen to match closely to that of Ratzinger and the whole modern cabal, one can see why Ratzinger beatified him. With the aura of being a conservative, Newman can be used to impart a false epistemology to conservatives today.

    Newman’s devotional life, however, appears to be quite Catholic. One of his prayers, “Soul of Christ, sanctify me, …” I recite after Holy Communion.

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