St. John Henry Newman?

The Times of London is reporting that in preparation for the not-too-far-off canonization of Venerable John Henry Newman, his remains are to be “disinterred” and placed on view in order that the faithful may venerate them, or, more precisely, him. 


“The Vatican has ordered that the body of Cardinal Newman, the Church of England’s most renowned convert to Roman Catholicism, be exhumed and reinterred in a marble sarcophagus, where it can be more easily venerated by the faithful. The [Congregation of the] Causes of Saints wants the remains of John Henry Newman, who died in 1890, to be moved from a secluded cemetery and placed in the Birmingham Oratory, part of the English Oratory movement that he founded.”  The Vatican is expected to beatify him this year. 

Newman has long held appeal for both wings of the church--and the middle as well.  Conservative Catholics appreciate Newman for many things: for one, the story of the brilliant scholar’s embrace of Catholicism, which came after he became convinced, through his long studies, that the Roman church was the true successor of the early church.  (That’s compressing things a bit, I know.)   Liberals appreciate his championing of the idea of the “development of doctrine,” which, among other things, led the former Anglican to be termed the “absent council father” at Vatican II.  (That’s compressed, too.)     

But like most of the saints, John Henry Newman is too capacious a personality to be tied to any one school of thought.  (Think of St. Therese of Lisieux, beloved by Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton and Pope John Paul II.)   To quote Walt Whitman, Newman “contains multitudes.”  For me, a favorite Newman quote is his response to the question, “Who are the laity?”  Replied Newman, “The church would look foolish without them.”

James Martin, SJ

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
9 years 9 months ago
From a bookmark, a Cardinal Neuman quote: ''nothing would be done at all if a man waited till he could do it so well that no one could find fault with it.''


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