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Pope signs decree recognising second Newman miracle

Cardinal John Henry Newman

Blessed John Henry Newman is headed for sainthood. Pope Francis on Tuesday authorised the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to issue a decree attributing a miracle to the intercession of the great 19th century convert. The move clears the final hurdle in the cause of Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman’s Cause for canonisation.

The development ends months of waiting and speculation that began in November of last year, when Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth announced in a newsletter that he had seen the relatio — an official report — regarding the miracle, saying, “It looks now as if Newman might be canonised, all being well, later next year,” i.e. sometime in 2019.

The relatio attributed to the intercession of Bl. John Henry Newman the medically inexplicable healing, in Chicago, Illinois, of a pregnant woman with life-threatening complications due to her pregnancy. The Archdiocese of Chicago conducted the investigation.

The Catholic Herald confirmed Bishop Egan’s November report with the postulator for Bl. Newman’s cause, Fr Ignatius Harrison, who echoed Bishop Egan’s hopes for a speedy conclusion. “I am praying for next year,” i.e. 2019, Fr Harrison told the Herald at the time, “but there’s no way of knowing.”

The Press Office of the Holy See did not say whether a date had been set for the canonization, but the path is now clear for Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman to be declared a saint.

Pope Benedict XVI presided over the beatification of Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman in Birmingham, on 19 September 2010, during his historic visit to the United Kingdom. In his homily on that occasion, Benedict praised Newman’s soaring erudition and commitment to the intellectual life in the service of the Church, as well as his pastoral zeal and sensitivity. “The definite service to which Blessed John Henry was called involved applying his keen intellect and his prolific pen to many of the most pressing ‘subjects of the day’,” Pope Benedict said.

“His insights into the relationship between faith and reason, into the vital place of revealed religion in civilized society, and into the need for a broadly-based and wide-ranging approach to education were not only of profound importance for Victorian England, but continue today to inspire and enlighten many all over the world,” Pope Benedict continued.

Pope Benedict also said, “[Newman] lived out that profoundly human vision of priestly ministry in his devoted care for the people of Birmingham during the years that he spent at the Oratory he founded, visiting the sick and the poor, comforting the bereaved, caring for those in prison.”

In the publication of decrees released on Wednesday, Pope Francis also advanced seven other causes, including that of the Servant of God, Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty, recognizing the “heroic virtues” of the churchman, who served as Archbishop of Esztergom for 28 years, from 1945 to 1973, and courageously resisted the encroachments of both Nazism-Fascism and Communism throughout his life.

Mindszenty was arrested on charges of treason and conspiracy in 1948, convicted of treason and espionage in early 1949, and sentenced to life in prison. After serving nearly eight years, he was released during the October 1956 uprising against the Communist regime, and returned to Buda-Pest, where he immediately expressed support for the insurgents. Mere days after his release, Soviet forces moved to crush the uprising, and Mindszenty sought and received asylum at the US embassy, where he spent the next fifteen years of his life.