The pope has put Cardinal John Henry Newman, the influential 19th-century Anglican convert who founded Birmingham Oratory in 1848, on the path to possible sainthood by approving a miracle attributed to his intercession.
Cardinal Newman, a hero to many Anglicans and Roman Catholics alike, can now be beatified. A second miracle is necessary for him to be declared a saint – an event which, if it happens, would make him the first English-born saint since the Reformation.
In 1841, Cardinal Newman published a paper demonstrating that the Thirty-Nine Articles, the doctrinal statements of the Church of England, were consistent with Catholicism. Amid the outcry from Anglicans, Cardinal Newman retired, and in 1845 joined the Roman Catholic Church. A year later he was ordained a Catholic priest.
Monsignor Mark Langham, the Vatican official in charge of relations with Anglicans, said Cardinal Newman was a “key figure” for both Roman Catholics and Anglicans today, responsible for having revived the rich tradition of Anglicanism that stressed the continuity with the old church.
The miracle approved by the pope concerns the medically inexplicable cure of a Boston resident, John Sullivan, who suffered from debilitating back pain for years but was cured after praying to Cardinal Newman.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the newly installed leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales and former Archbishop of Birmingham, said: “I am delighted to learn this news, which will be warmly welcomed by Catholics around the world.
“To have Cardinal Newman among the Blessed is an occasion of great thankfulness to the Lord and of great pride to those associated with him in Birmingham and in Oxford. I am sure he will help us greatly in the task of protecting the Faith amidst the difficulties he foresaw so clearly.”