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Church investigates claims of second Newman miracle

The Newman reliquary at Birmingham Oratory (Mazur/CCN)

A severely deformed baby was born in a perfectly normal condition after the child’s mother prayed to Cardinal John Henry Newman for a miracle, it has been claimed.

The Vatican is investigating the inexplicable healing as the possible supernatural sign that could lead to the canonisation of the Victorian convert.

The Pope will beatify Cardinal Newman in Cofton Park, Birmingham, on Sunday following the healing of US deacon Jack Sullivan from a crippling spinal condition in 2001. A second miracle is needed to make him a saint.

Andrea Ambrosi, the Vatican lawyer in charge of Cardinal Newman’s cause for canonisation, said the baby’s healing “could be the miracle for his canonisation”.

Former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe, a Catholic convert, learned of the healing while researching Newman – Saint or Sinner?, a programme due to be broadcast on BBC Two at 6.45pm tomorrow. She said pre-natal scans revealed that the unborn baby was “severely deformed” and that doctors were convinced they could do nothing to help. “The child was born perfect following the mother praying to Newman and scientists can’t explain it,” said Miss Widdecombe.

Fr Richard Duffield, provost of the Birmingham Oratory and actor of the cause, confirmed that “an investigative tribunal into a further miracle … is about to open in the Archdiocese of Mexico City”.

“The reported miracle took place after the formal announcement of Newman’s beatification,” he said. “This means that if it is found to be genuine it would be eligible for consideration as the second miracle necessary for Newman’s canonisation. It is expected that witness statements from those concerned and from the medical teams will be ready to send to Rome in early 2011.”