Coming Soon: Blessed John Henry Newman

The Daily Telegraph is reporting that the Vatican has accepted the curing of a Marshfield, Mass., man who was "bent double," the result of a severe spinal disorder as a miracle attributable to Cardinal John Henry Newman.  The miracle would fulfill the requirement for Newman's beatification, which could come as early as this fall, but would probably, according to the Telegraph, happen next year.  He would then become "Blessed John Henry Newman."  (Another miracle would be required for his canonization.)  Here's the link.

Newman would make a fascinating and somewhat controversial modern saint: On the one hand, he is beloved by traditional Catholics (among them Pope Benedict XVI) for the moving story of his conversion from Anglicanism, his "theology of conscience," as well as his elegant apologias for the Catholic faith.  But he is also loved by progressive Catholics for his ideas on the "development of doctrine."  And, ironically, many Catholics suspicious of clericalism often quote this prince of the church who quipped, "Who are the laity?  I answered that the church would look foolish without them.")  

Advertisement

And not long ago, in preparation for his beatification, church officials attempted to unearth his remains in order to "transfer" them to a place more appropriate for public veneration but found little left.  (Something quite the opposite of the tradition of the "incorruptible" saint.)  The exhumation proved controversial since Newman had explicitly asked to be buried next to his lifelong friend, Ambrose St. John.  "As far as this world was concerned, I was his first and last...he was my  earthly light," Newman wrote.   As a result, he is somewhat beloved among the gay community as well, who claim him as one of their own.

Newman: favorite of traditionalists, progressives, anti-clericalists and gays? It's a bit like the quest for the historical Jesus. Which Jesus you're looking for depends a great deal on what you're looking for. Stay tuned for the controversy over the historical Newman.

James Martin, S.J.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Alan Jacobs has dedicated most of his career to bridging gaps not only between Christians and non-Christians but also between disciplines and audiences.
David J. MichaelApril 23, 2018
 Pope Francis greets an elderly woman as he meets with people in a poor neighborhood in Asuncion, Paraguay, in this July 12, 2015, file photo. Pastoral care of the poor and those in need has been emphasis of the pontificate of Pope Francis. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis has brought the legacy of the great saint of Assisi to the very heart of the church’s proclamation to the modern world.
Robert W. McElroyApril 23, 2018
Cuba’s new leader may feel he has to show public fealty to the older generation of the country’s revolutionary leaders.
Philip BrennerApril 23, 2018
It takes us a while to celebrate the Resurrection.
James Martin, S.J.April 23, 2018