Date of Award

Fall 1968

Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




One of the liveliest controversies in the Catholic Church in the present day is the question of the relationship of the authority of the individual conscience to the ordinary papal magisterium. Reason, emotion, occupational positions, personal loyalties ,-- these and other factors blend and interreact so profoundly when this issue is debated that calm discussion is at a premium. At such a time it may be useful to make available to the theologically oriented the ideas and arguments of past Catholic thinkers on this perennially recurring topic. This paper tries to explicate the mature theological opinion of one such person, John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801 - 1890), as it is presented in his noted work on this subject, the Letter Addressed to His Grace , the Duke of Norfolk (1874). No attempt is made to chronicle the Cardinal's thought ; rather, this essay seeks to penetrate through his discursive and phenomenological descriptions to the theological underpinnings beneath. Such a task requires an analytical exposition of the text itself with heavy reliance placed upon Newman's epistemological presuppositions and upon his own personal faith perspective. From this is synthesized in the modern idiom a representation of his considered theological opinion .