Cardinal Newman moves closer to sainthood

Cardinal John Henry Newman, a protestant who converted to Roman Catholicism in the 19th century is closer to becoming the next English person to be made a saint by the Vatican.

A group of theological consultors agreed that the unexplained healing of an American man, who was suffering from a severe spinal disorder, was the result of praying to Cardinal Newman for a miracle. By attributing the miracle to Newman the Pope can now declare him “Blessed”.

According to Vatican rules on bestowing sainthood on a person, one more miracle will be required for Cardinal Newman to be a fully fledged saint.

Oxford University theologian, Father Ian Ker, who wrote Cardinal Newman’s biography, welcomed the news.

He said, "Newman was definitely a saint and he was a very English saint. He had a great sense of humour like St Thomas More,” reports Tche Telegraph.

"He also had a great gift for friendship which has been lost in the modern age."

According to Father Ker, Newman is highly respected among Catholics all over the world because he pre-empted many of the modernising reforms of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s.

Father Ker said, "As soon as he is canonised he will definitely be made a theological ‘doctor of the Church’ and he will be seen as a doctor of this period we are living in.

"He would thoroughly agree with Pope John Paul II's and Benedict's understanding of the reforms of the council. While Newman was open to new ideas he was extremely loyal to the authority and the tradition of the Church."

The Vatican is expected to give a formal announcement of Cardinal Newman’s beatification in the next two months. Prime Minister Gordon Brown invited the Pope to come to the UK and perform the ceremony in person, either in the autumn or next year.

There is a possibility that the ceremony could even be held in St Peter’s Square in Rome because of the worldwide influence of Cardinal Newman’s theology.

Cardinal Newman was born in London in 1801 and was part of the “Oxford movement” of Church of England clergy who wanted to bring the Anglican Church back to its Catholic origins. However due to conflicts with Anglican bishops he converted fully to Roman Catholicism at the age of 44.

He died aged 89 and over 15,000 people gathered for his funeral. The last British person to be made a saint was St John Ogilvie, a Scottish Jesuit who was canonised in 1976.