Apologia pro Vita Sua

by John Henry Newman

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 263

Cardinal John Newman wrote Apologia Pro Vita Sua (which translates to, "A Defense of his Life") in response to the claim by one Charles Kingsley, who made several attacks on his beliefs. John Newman was a member of the Tractarian movement, a movement which published Tracts for the Times, in which they developed a doctrine of Anglo-Catholicism.

His treatise is divided into five parts: "History of my Religious Opinions up to 1833," "History of my Religious Opinions from 1833-1839," "History of my Religious Opinions from 1839 to 1841," "History of my Religious Opinions from 1841 to 1845," and "Position of my Mind since 1845."

In the first section, he describes how he committed to celibacy by age fifteen, and, from an early age, asked himself serious theological questions. In the second, he discusses how the Church of England must be restored to power, and expresses his enduring anti-Whig sentiment. In the third chapter (1841-1845) he begins to give up on the Church of England. This chapter is the one that labeled Newman an enemy of the Reformation. The final chapter finds Newman in his retirement, unable commit to either the Church of England or Roman Catholicism. He absconds from communication with Roman Catholics, but eventually, though he perceives a degree of truth in the Church of England, resolves to be confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church.

The treatise is one that is a paragon of religious diligence. Newman questions himself at every stage of his life (sometimes with a different result). He is extremely anti-liberal, and it is perhaps the rise of the Whig Party that occasioned Newman's self-questioning.

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