I have just been re-reading Newman’s Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England. Was there ever a preacher of his stature, I wonder, who also used humour so successfully in public speaking? Fulton Sheen has humour, but he uses it as a technique to lessen tension, and as a captatio benevolentiaewith Newman it arises spontaneously from the excess of his indignation; it is part of his clear vision of the incongruity between what is and what ought to be.

But the main thing that struck me on this reading was how open he is in his detestation of the Whig party. It is not simply this or that Whig policy that he speaks against, but the party itself. The idea that priests should stay out of party politics was clearly not one that was familiar to him. Perhaps we need priests to speak out against the Whig party today; which I suppose, in England, means against the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats.