One of the interesting figures in the ninettenth century Oxford Movement was John Henry Newman, late4r Cardinal Newman. Newman was an excellent preacher and writer and is always a pleasure to read. He started his career as an Anglican clergyman involved in the movement to return the Anglican Church to more conservative and more Catholic principles. He converted to Catholicism in 1845 and was made a Cardinal in 1879. Despite a brilliant mind and an engaging personality, he was cruelly conservative and hardly rigid in his beliefs as this quotation shows:
Man had rebelled against his Maker. It was this that caused the divine interposition: and the first act of the divinely accredited messenger must be to proclaim it. The Church must denounce rebellion as of all possible evils the greatest. She must have no terms with it; if she would be true to her Master, she must ban and anathematize it. This is the meaning of a statement, which has matter for one of those special accusations to which I am at present replying; I have, however, no fault at all to confess in regard to it; I have nothing to withdraw, and in consequence I here deliberately repeat it. I said, "The Catholic Church holds it better for the sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions on it to die of starvation in extremest agony, as far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth, or should steal one poor farthing without excuse."
from his book, Apologia Pro Vita Sua [my emjphasis]
In the eyes of the church rebellion from its commandments is the greatest sin and obedience to its prescriptions the supreme virtue.
Wonder what Cardinal Newman would say about Francis, especially now that Sarah Palin has complained he is too liberal.
He would undoubtedly think Pope Francis is much too liberal, but he would not say so since he believed in obedience to authority. In his famous biglietto speech, Newman insisted that he had fought liberalism in religion all his life:
I trust that I may claim all through what I have written, is this,—an honest intention, an absence of private ends, a temper of obedience, a willingness to be corrected, a dread of error, a desire to serve Holy Church, and, through Divine mercy, a fair measure of success. And, I rejoice to say, to one great mischief I have from the first opposed myself. For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. Never did Holy Church need champions against it more sorely than now, when, alas! it is an error overspreading, as a snare, the whole earth; and on this great occasion, when it is natural for one who is in my place to look out upon the world, and upon Holy Church as in it, and upon her future, it will not, I hope, be considered out of place, if I renew the protest against it which I have made so often.
Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily. It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are matters of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy. Devotion is not necessarily founded on faith. Men may go to Protestant Churches and to Catholic, may get good from both and belong to neither. They may fraternise together in spiritual thoughts and feelings, without having any views at all of doctrine in common, or seeing the need of them. Since, then, religion is so personal a peculiarity and so private a possession, we must of necessity ignore it in the intercourse of man with man. If a man puts on a new religion every morning, what is that to you? It is as impertinent to think about a man's religion as about his sources of income or his management of his family. Religion is in no sense the bond of society.
Though a member of Newman Clubs at two publicly-funded colleges, all I knew of Newman was that he was English, Catholic and a cardinal.
Regarding his ...an absence of private ends, a temper of obedience...., would he have defended the thesis that his temper of obedience was not a private (non-economic) end?
one becomes a martyr only by voluntary self-sacrifice for one's beliefs.
But people who are in situations where they end up getting attacked for their beliefs, are often quite aware that they are in danger. It takes courage to stay in the situation and say what they think anyways.
It apparently takes courage to teach evolution in some places, for example.
The Galileo story accepted into popular culture does not perfectly accord with facts. The story is more complicated, and correct only in outline: Galileo's science was right and he did promote the Copernican theory with sound arguments. One necessary piece of evidence was lacking—stellar parallax, unobservable with instruments of the time and the reason the Copernican theory was opposed by other astronomers of his era. It was finally observed in 1838 by Bessel.
Galileo saved himself from prison by wisely recanting his discoveries, but he could not entirely escape punishment since he was the most prominent scientist of his time and the evidence clear. He continued to work and publish while under house arrest.
That this constitutes martyrdom is something I resist since he did not willingly suffer for his ideas, but voluntarily surrendered them to power. There is nothing shameful in Galileo's actions, but they seem to me the very opposite of the notion of martyr.
I realize that the word is often used loosely and metaphorically, but I favor retaining the sense of its etymology from the Greek verb μαρταρ —"to bear witness."