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Chesterton’s Cause will not be opened

The Bishop of Northampton said there was no local cult and raised concerns of 'anti-Semitism'

The Cause for GK Chesterton will not be opened, the Bishop of Northampton has said.

Bishop Peter Doyle said he took the decision due to the lack of a local cult, the lack of any “pattern of personal spirituality” in the life of the author, and “the issue of anti-Semitism”.

In a letter that was read out at the opening session of the American GK Chesterton Society conference, the bishop wrote that he “recognise[d] Chesterton’s goodness and his ability to evangelise” but could not support the Cause any further.

“I am very conscious of the devotion to GK Chesterton in many parts of the world and of his inspiring influence on so many people, and this makes it difficult to communicate the conclusion to which I have come,” the bishop said.

“That conclusion is that I am unable to promote the cause of GK Chesterton for three reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, there is no local cult. Secondly, I have been unable to tease out a pattern of personal spirituality. And, thirdly, even allowing for the context of G K Chesterton’s time, the issue of anti-Semitism is a real obstacle particularly at this time in the United Kingdom.”

The investigator for Chesterton’s Cause, Fr John Udris, confirmed the decision to the Catholic Herald. “I don’t envy Bishop Peter having to make a decision with such huge implications,” he said.

“Of course it’s a disappointment. But the investigation was an enormous privilege. Getting to know Chesterton better has certainly changed me for good (I hope in both senses!).”

Fr Benedict Kiely, who believes that Chesterton’s intercession personally helped his mother, expressed regret at the decision.

He said: “Writing to Evelyn Waugh, Hilaire Belloc described the English Catholic hierarchy in the 1930s as ‘a fog of mediocrity’. The decision of the current Bishop of Northampton not to pursue the cause of GK Chesterton’s canonisation indicates the fog has yet to clear.

“The decision is a textbook example of the obeisance of the hapless hierarchy to the dominant PC culture.

“I asked the help of GKC six years ago when my mother was in extremis from sepsis – within one day of the novena (Chesterton’s biographer Joseph Pearce joined me in prayer) her poison level dropped dramatically.”