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Rome to Newman: You are the Head of
the English Liberal Catholics

On May 26, 1867, Newman wrote a letter to Msgr. George Talbot in Rome, secretary of Pope Pius IX who reported to him on Church affairs in England. The letter complained that Talbot had been too hard on him for some years:

"I have been the more bewildered at your having of late years taken so strong a part against me, without (I may say) any real ground whatever." Newman then said that he expected Msgr. Talbot to show more consideration and sympathy for a man who had dedicated his life to the service of religion. He went on to declare: "I have never been otherwise than well-disposed towards you."

Newman's message was clear: If you don't show me how I am wrong, you must stop acting and speaking against me. At any rate, let us set aside differences and be good friends as I always wished.

Msgr. Talbot, a fine diplomat, understood the maneuver and answered accordingly, sending his own message in his reply, which could be expressed as follow: I have been always your friend and not your enemy since I defend the truth and the Church. But since those who call themselves your friends are the Liberal Catholics and they present you as their leader without any denial of your part, I have to act in response to these facts.

Msgr. Talbot also affirmed that Newman's writings corresponded to what his friends stated, i.e., that he was the head of the Liberal Catholics in England.

Below, we reproduce a photocopy of Msgr. George Talbot's letter - no date specified. This document is in The Life of John Henry Cardinal Newman by Wilfrid Ward, vol. II, pp. 177-178; Newman's letter is on pp. 176-177.

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Posted on September 11, 2010

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