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Beatification soon for Cardinal Newman? October 20, 2005

Reports of a miracle attributed to the intercession of Cardinal John Henry Newman have given a new impetus to the cause for beatification of the 19th-century British convert.

"At last we have a miracle cure," said Father Paul Chavasse, the provost of the Birmingham Oratory, an institution founded by Cardinal Newman in 1848. He was referring to reports that an American deacon was cured of severe chronic spinal problems through Cardinal Newman's intercession.

Church officials would not reveal the identity of the man who benefited from the reported miracle, but said that the Boston archdiocese has established a commission to investigate the report. If a miracle if verified, it would fulfill the final requirement for beatification of the English scholar.

Word of the alleged miracle became public at an October 18 press conference in Rome for the publication of a new book, Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Newman, edited by veteran Catholic journalist Peter Jennings. The book highlights the admiration that the Pope had professed for Cardinal Newman's writings.

Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801- 1890) was an Oxford scholar and prominent Anglican preacher when he joined the Oxford Movement in the 1830s. By 1840 he had begun expressing doubts about the Church of England, and withdrew from Anglican ministry; in 1845 he was received into the Catholic Church. His Apologia Pro Vita Sua, explaining his spiritual journey, is among the classics of Catholic autobiography.

Newman was the leading Catholic intellectual and controversialist in England during the 19th century, writing influential works such as Grammar of Assent and The Idea of the University. Although he was never a bishop, in 1879 he was raised by Pope Leo XIII to the College of Cardinals. In 1991 he was declared "Venerable" by Pope John Paul II, leaving the recognition of a miracle as the only remaining requirement for his beatification.

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