Cardinal Newman research papers report that Newman’s ascendancy to the College of Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church was the last important step of his life. He had accomplished much as a member of the Oxford Movement, which ended when he converted to Catholicism in 1845. Newman was not entirely responsible for the end of the movement; it had been slowly falling apart before his conversion.
And, though Newman was not trying to sow seeds of discontent, becoming a Catholic and subsequently a priest did just that, thanks to his great intellectual influence. Many people who had closely followed the tracts of the Oxford Movement also became Catholics. This tore apart some families and caused a great deal of friction in others. In the case of the Wilberforce family – an influential English family – two brothers converted to Catholicism, while a third brother, Samuel, went on to become one of the most influential Anglican bishops of the 19th century.
Cardinal John Henry Newman is unquestionably one of the strongest voices of the 19th century in theological circles. But his teachings and writings can be appreciated by anyone, Catholic or not. A Grammar of Assent, written in 1870, is one of his greatest works. The Dream of Gerontius is disturbing, but uniquely enlightening, in that it gives us hope if we believe and do good works.