According to the Sunday Times of April 20, 2008
Victorian cleric put on path to sainthood
AN ANGLICAN priest whose conversion to Catholicism shocked Victorian England will this week take a big step to becoming the first new British saint for almost 40 years.
The Vatican will announce the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman after accepting that he was responsible for a miracle in which an American clergyman was “cured” of a crippling spinal disorder.
Newman will be given the title “Blessed” after a ceremony later this year, leaving him one step away from full sainthood.
If the Catholic church attributes a further miracle to him, Newman could be canonised as early as 2009.
Pope Benedict XVI is said to have taken a personal interest in the Newman “cause”, having been a devotee of the 19th-century cardinal since studying him as a youth. Tony Blair, who converted to Catholicism after quitting as prime minister, is another admirer. He presented the Pope with three photographs of Newman during a visit to Rome last year.
London-born Newman was ordained in 1824 and led the Oxford movement in the 1830s to draw Anglicans to their Catholic roots. He became a Catholic in 1845. He died in 1890 and was proclaimed venerable – the first step towards canonisation – in 1991.
A file on Newman’s beatification was first opened in 1958, but the miracle now attributed to him by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints took place in 2001.
Jack Sullivan, a deacon from Marshfield, Massachusetts, who was suffering from a serious spinal condition, prayed to Newman to intercede. “The following morning I woke up and the pain was gone,” he said.
The claim prompted an inquiry by the Archbishop of Boston, who passed on his findings to Rome. Vatican theologians have now concluded that there is no scientific explanation for Sullivan’s recovery and sources say the Pope has given his approval for Newman to be beatified.
In searching for evidence of a second miracle, which would be required to declare Newman a saint, the Vatican is expected to consider the case of a 17-year-old boy from New Hampshire who recovered from serious head injuries suffered in a car accident after Newman was invoked.
The last time a Briton was canonised was in 1970 when 40 martyrs from the Reformation were made saints.
Pope Benedict has created 14 saints since taking over the papacy in 2005.
John Paul II created 482 during his 27 years as pope – more than all of his predecessors combined. Some critics have argued that many of these were to shore up support for the Catholic church in various parts of the world. On October 1, 2000, for example, he canonised 120 “martyrs of China”.
British saints include Thomas More, the lord chancellor executed by Henry VIII and canonised in 1935, and Thomas Becket, the archbishop murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in 1162.
The first British saint was Augustine of Canterbury, who died in 604. Other candidates for canonisation include Ignatius Spencer, a 19th-century forebear of Diana, Princess of Wales.