To: (Multiple email addresses may be specified by separating them with a comma)
Cardinal John Newman’s beatification cause is moving forward after the miraculous cure of a Massachusetts deacon who prayed for the cardinal’s intercession.
BY EDWARD PENTINREGISTER CORRESPONDENT
Cardinal John Henry Newman’s beatification cause is moving
ahead swiftly after doctors were unable to explain the cure of a Massachusetts
deacon who prayed to the 19th-century cardinal.
According to the Rome postulator of the Cardinal Newman
cause, a consulta medica (team of doctors) gave a “positive” judgment April
24th, inferring that the healing was inexplicable.
“We now hope and pray for a positive outcome for the
remaining steps of the process to beatify our cardinal,” said Father Paul
Chavasse, provost of the Birmingham Oratory and postulator of the cause.
A meeting of theological consultors will now determine
whether the healing was truly a miracle. They are expected to reach a decision
in June or July, leading to possible beatification this fall or next spring.
Deacon Jack Sullivan, 69, a married father of three from
Marshfield near Boston, was cured of a serious spinal injury after praying for
Cardinal Newman’s intercession on the Feast of the Assumption in 2001.
According to Peter Jennings, press secretary to the Fathers of the Birmingham
Oratory for the Cause of Newman’s Beatification and Canonization, Sullivan’s
healing was extraordinary and dramatic.
“He [Sullivan] was literally bent over double and was
looking at the ground in tremendous pain,” Jennings explained. “On that
particular day, he was in bed and was praying as he did every day to Newman
that he could be healed, not for himself, but because he wanted to continue his
diaconate studies and be ordained a deacon.
“On that particular morning, from being in that serious
condition, he was suddenly able to stand bolt upright and could walk,” Jennings
said. “He just got out of his hospital bed and walked straight down the ward —
in fact, a few hours later, they sent him home.”
Cardinal Newman, who was born in London in 1801, is one of
the Church’s most famous converts. A vicar in the Church of England, he was
renowned for his courageous intellect and writing ability and converted in
1845, after having founded the Oxford Movement — a group of Anglican clergymen
who tried to reform the Church of England by restoring ancient Christian
doctrine and practice.
He subsequently founded the Oratories of St. Philip Neri in
Birmingham and London, and was also the first rector at the Catholic University
in Dublin. In 1879, he was elevated to cardinal by Pope Leo XIII.
In 1991, Pope John Paul II proclaimed Newman venerable after
the Congregation for the Causes of Saints deemed his life to have been one of
Two reasons are given for the delay in his beatification.
First, according to Peter Jennings, few people were praying for it. Not until
devotees of the cardinal made him better known in the latter part of the 20th
century did his cause began to significantly advance.
The second reason is Newman’s extensive writings.
“He wrote an awful lot so everything needs to be examined,”
said Father Ian Ker, who has authored several books on Cardinal Newman. “There
were over 30 volumes of letters, over 40 volumes of published works, so the
first process [being declared venerable] took a long time.”
One of Cardinal Newman’s greatest legacies is relevance to
the Church of today. Many consider him to have been ahead of his time, and to
have foreshadowed the Second Vatican Council.
“He stands for the genuine teachings of Vatican II, but he
also stands for strict continuity,” said Father Ker. “In other words, Vatican
II is to be seen as a development.”
Father Ker also believes the new ecclesial movements are
something not only derived from the council, but what Newman “would have been
absolutely in favor of,” as he had led one himself in the Oxford Movement.
Newman’s cause is now progressing more quickly because Pope
Benedict XVI has taken a strong interest in it, according to Jennings, who is
the editor of a recent book titled Benedict XVI and Cardinal Newman.
Ever since the Pope was a seminarian, Jennings said, the Holy
Father has been “terribly enthusiastic” about Cardinal Newman.
Assuming the judgment of the theological consultors is
positive, it is expected the beatification will take place in Rome rather than
in England, owing to Newman’s large following and the fact that he was a
cardinal. But given that beatification is never an automatic process, Father
Chavasse called on those who are devoted to Cardinal Newman “to redouble their
Edward Pentin writes