Thursday, April 24, 2008

John Henry Cardinal Newman to be beatified

"Vatican City, Apr 23, 2008/03:12am (CNA). -- The Vatican has approved the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the English convert and theologian who has had immense influence upon English-speaking Catholicism, the Birmingham Mail reports" ("John Henry Cardinal Newman to be beatified," Catholic News Agency, April 23, 2008).

Newman, our patron, was declared "Venerable" in 1991, after a detailed examination of his life and work by the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints. One miracle attributed to his intercession is needed and must be fully approved by Rome in order to open the way for his beatification. He would then acquire the title of "Blessed." A second miracle would then be needed before he can be canonized and declared a "Saint."

In October 2005, Fr. Paul Chavasse, provost of the Birmingham Oratory, who is the postulator responsible for the cause, announced that a miraculous cure had occurred. Jack Sullivan, a deacon from Marshfield, Massachusetts in the United States, attributed his recovery from a spinal cord disorder to Cardinal Newman. The miracle occurred in the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Boston, whose responsibility it is to determine its validity. In August 2006 the Archbishop of Boston, Sean O'Malley, announced he was passing details to the Vatican, as we reported in a post, "Evidence of alleged cure credited to Cardinal Newman sent to Vatican" (Musings, November 25, 2006).

Today (April 24, 2008) it was reported by the Press Secretary to the Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory that the Consulta Medica at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints had met today and voted unanimously that Sullivan's recovery defies any scientific or medical explanation. The cause now awaits the vote of the Theological Consultors on the alleged miracle before it can be sent to the members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, whose role it is to advise Pope Benedict XVI, who could then declare Newman beatified.

The case of a 17-year-old New Hampshire boy who survived serious head injuries from a car crash is being investigated as a possible second miracle.

I remember speaking to one of the Oratorian priests at the Brompton Oratory in London in 1999 about the painfully slow canonization process in the causes of academic saints. I had just come from visiting the Birmingham Oratory, where I was invited to spend an afternoon in Newman's personal library (and gingerly handle his books and cardinal's cap), as well as his private chapel, decked with relics, and his living quarters, and where I had visited his grave in Rednal, just outside the city. "Oh, we'll get him," declared the priest with a confident smile. I did not know whether I should even hope to see Cardinal Newman's canonization, or even his beatification, within my lifetime. If I do live to see him canonized, I invite any of you who wish to join me to Rome for the event; for I will not miss it, Lord help me. I may sell the house, if necessary. Besides, I have another coin I've been saving for the Trevi Fountain.

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