What would it take for St. John Henry Newman to be named a Doctor of the Church?

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In 2019, Cardinal John Henry Newman became the first English saint to be canonized in over 300 years.

Now, he could join an even more exclusive list of people. The Catholic Bishops of the United Kingdom have petitioned Pope Francis to name St. John Henry Newman a Doctor of the Church.

Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales
We thought to ourselves soon after the canonization...Well we went into lockdown. We got COVID. In 2020, everybody got COVID. But already we were talking in the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales. It needs to start, the process needs to start somewhere. Somebody has to take ownership of the process, of making the petition to the Holy Father.
It started at that stage and it's sort of grown, really, basically because what's happened is that other bishops' conferences, we've been illiciting their support for the case.

The next steps include confirming if the saint's work enriches Church doctrine and seeing if his life had an impact on the universal Church. Fr. Bowen says the bishops' conference receieve numerous letters showing how Cardinal Newman's life continues to impact people today, far beyond British borders.

Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales
The bishops' conferences, of course, play a very important part, but they're not the only part. And we have quite a few letters coming in from various different universities and institutions and religious orders from all over the world. We had a letter the other day from a religious order in Uganda that are writing in, the headquarters of the religious order of nuns in Uganda and the principal is writing. So we've got from all over the place being written.

The bishops of England and Wales are going through St. John Henry Newman's 35 volumes of writings before taking them to the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints in Rome. Then, their findings will be brought to Pope Francis who will make the final decision.

Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales
He then needs to say, well let's check on eminence of doctrine. Yes, there's evidence of universal appeal and there's evidence of holiness. We've just got to check on eminence of doctrine—the way it stands out and then away we go. Then, it's up to him. He can then stand up: I declare. It's just a declaration, which he eventually makes after the process has been sort of explored.

In the 150 plus years since St. John Henry Newman's death, the popes have highlighted his impact on the Catholic faith. Pius X called him the “pride of the universal Church.”


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