Sunday 17 December 2017

Gay or not, let Cardinal Newman rest in peace

I FIRST encountered the rumour in the 1990s, when I was engaged in presenting a radio documentary on Cardinal Newman for the BBC. It was a senior British Catholic who remarked casually to me: "Don't you think John Henry Newman was a homosexual? I mean, just look at the portrait!"

The best-known portrait of Cardinal Newman -- soon to become the last British Catholic saint -- is by Millais and shows an elderly gentleman with a refined and perhaps, indeed, rather feminised appearance. In his lifetime, contemporaries remarked on Newman's "effeminate" manner, as they then said, although sometimes this was a sly way of attacking him.

The Rev John Henry Newman had many critics after he sensationally quit the Church of England in 1845 and was received into the Roman Catholic Church.

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