Since the days of Henry VIII, the king or queen of England has been the head of the Church of England. Thus, to belong to any other church—particularly one that included allegiance to a “foreign sovereign,” aka: the pope—could be construed as treason. And for many years it was construed as treason.
By 1800 that attitude had begun to change, but Catholics were still a persecuted minority whose rights were seriously abridged. Catholics could not, for example, attend Oxford University to receive the kind of education that would make all the difference. But John Henry Newman was not a Catholic, that is, until his education was complete and his brilliant academic and pastoral career was in their prime. This week, Newman is our point of light.