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What Cardinal John Henry Newman's canonization would mean

2016-02-27

More than 125 years after his death, it appears that Cardinal John Henry Newman may be approaching canonization.

The Archdiocese of Chicago recently forwarded the Vatican a possible miracle attributed to him. A mother reportedly prayed to Cardinal Newman during a life-threatening pregnancy, and without explanation she was able to survive.

Though his canonization is still far from certain, it's an encouraging development for those who have studied Newman's work closely.

FR. THOMAS NORRIS
Pontifical Irish College (Rome)
"And I continue to revisit him, seriously, on and off all the time. And every time I go to him, it's like hearing Beethoven's 9th Symphony as if for the first time. It is so attractive, you know, his thought. So contemporary. So beautifully expressed. So touching.” 

Fr. Norris has been interested in Newman since he was a teenager. He wrote his dissertation on the cardinal's work and has taught classes on the 19th century Catholic thinker.

He said his work is still deeply relevant today. Just a few of his key themes are the call of all Christians to holiness; the relationship between faith and culture; the need for dialogue; the relationship between faith and science; and the role of conscience. 

Many of these themes were central to the Second Vatican Council.

FR. THOMAS NORRIS
Pontifical Irish College (Rome)
"He would be somebody who would be almost a guide to the implementation of Vatican II. He'd almost be a guide to put the wonderful documents of the Council, now 50 years old, into practice. He would show us ways of doing it, because he did it in his own time in many significant little ways.”

Cardinal Newman was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 during a pastoral visit to England. If canonized, he would be the first new English saint since 1970.

Norris further suggested that if Newman is canonized, his extensive writings make it very possible that he will be named a Doctor of the Church.

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