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Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2494

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Healing of U.S. woman is miracle needed for canonisation of Blessed John Henry Newman, say Vatican medics

The explicable healing of a young woman in America from life-threatening complications in her pregnancy has been confirmed by the Vatican as the second miracle required to recognise Blessed John Henry Newman as a saint.

The woman, a law graduate from the Archdiocese of Chicago, prayed for intercession of the Victorian cardinal after watching a film about him on EWTN and was instantly cured of her condition.

Medics serving the Vatican’s Congregation of the Causes of Saints have concluded that they believe the healing was the supernatural sign needed from God to declare Blessed John Henry as a saint.

The developments were revealed to the bishops of England and Wales during their Ad Limina visit to Rome in September, raising hopes among them that Blessed John Henry might be canonised as early as next year.

Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, the city where Cardinal Newman founded his oratory and died, said the decision represented “considerable progress” with Cause.

“I understand that the medical board responsible for assessing a second miracle has now delivered a positive assessment to the congregation,” he said.

He said the cardinals and bishops of the congregation will meet early next year “to consider the medical board’s assessment and to make its own recommendation” to Pope Francis who will take the final decision and possibly set a date for the canonisation ceremony.

Archbishop Longley said: “It is wonderful news that the process for canonisation is now moving closer towards its conclusion and I pray that we may witness the canonisation of Blessed John Henry Newman within the coming year.”

He said that the event would be a “great joy” for the Church, adding: “I am sure that Pope Benedict XVI, who came to our city to beatify Cardinal Newman, will be joining us as we continue to pray for Blessed John Henry’s canonisation in the near future.

Blessed John Henry was beatified in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI in Cofton Park following the healing of Jack Sullivan, a deacon from Boston, America, from a spinal condition which left him “bent double”.

The London-born cardinal was an esteemed 19th century Anglican theologian who founded the Oxford Movement to try to return the Church of England to its Catholic roots before he converted to the Catholic faith.

In spite of a life marked by controversy, he was renowned for his exemplary virtue and also for his reputation as a brilliant thinker and Pope Leo XIII rewarded him with a cardinal’s red hat.

He died in Birmingham in 1890, aged 89, and more than 15,000 people lined the streets for his funeral procession to pay tribute to him.

Scholars believe he was years ahead of his time in his views of the Catholic Church and her teachings.

He was also a deeply original theologian who articulated a “theology of conscience” and whose contribution in the field has been compared by Benedict XVI to the witness of St Thomas More.

Within the last decade German historians have discovered that his teachings influenced the White Rose resistance movement in Adolf Hitler’s Germany at a critical moment.

In particular, the informed the convictions of Sophie Scholl, the German woman beheaded in 1943 after she was caught flooding Munich University with leaflets urging students to rise up against “Nazi terror”.

If his canonisation goes ahead next year, Blessed John Henry will become the first post-Reformation English saint.

He will be the first English saint since 1970, when Pope St Paul VI canonised 40 martyrs of the Reformation, and the first British saint since 1976 when the same pope canonised St John Ogilvie, a Scottish Jesuit martyr.