Monday, October 24, 2005

A miracle for Cardinal Newman?

According to today's Boston Globe, the Archdiocese of Boston is investigating reports that a Massachusetts man miraculously recovered from a spinal cord ailment through the intercession of 19th century British Catholic apologist John Henry Newman. Newman has long been held in high regard for his spiritual and theological writings, and some of his ideas had a profound influence on the documents of the Second Vatican Council. However, Newman's cause for beatification - which was first introduced in 1958 - has proceeded very slowly. If the miracle attributed to Newman is accepted as genuine by the Archdiocese of Boston and by Vatican authorities, Newman's beatification will at last go forward.

As might be expected, Newman's possible beatification has attracted more comment in Britain than it has in the United States. Indeed, the miracle claim currently under investigation was reported by BBC News and The Times before it was picked up by the Globe. Even so, if the Newman miracle passes muster it will be the second time in the last few years that Massachusetts has played a role in the process by which the Catholic Church recognizes saints. In 1998, St. Teresia Benedicta of the Cross - better known as Edith Stein - was canonized on the strength of the miraculous cure of a Brockton, Massachusetts girl (incidentally, there's a very interesting story there, which involves the Melkite Greek-Catholic Church, Pax Christi USA and the University of Notre Dame, among other things).

For my part, I'd be very happy to see John Henry Newman beatified. As veteran Newsweek religion editor Ken Woodward points out in his excellent book Making Saints, academic types like Newman seldom fare well in the beatification process, mainly because they have a hard time attracting the popular support (and the prayers) that propelled the causes of figures like Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Padre Pio of Petrelcina. At the same time, the beatification of Cardinal Newman would help bring to greater notice the achievements and gifts of a man who has played a tremendously influential but comparatively quiet role in the life of the Church. While I'm not yet at the point of seeking Newman's intercession, I hope his cause is successful. AMDG.


At October 26, 2005 11:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to split hairs here, but St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was not the first Jewish-born person to be "made a saint" by the Church.

Unless memory fails me, all of the apostles (and Stephen?) were Jewish-born persons.

But I know what the author is getting at.

At October 27, 2005 10:44 AM, Blogger Joseph Koczera, S.J. said...

Anon -
Your hair splitting is most welcome, and the point is well-taken. I admit that the Edith Stein links I chose aren't perfect, but I figured I'd have to settle for good enough. Thanks again for the comment.


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