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Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2494

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Pope Francis approves second miracle needed to recognise Blessed John Henry Newman as a saint

Pope Francis has approved a second miracle at the intercession of Blessed John Henry Newman, clearing the way for the canonisation of the Victorian cardinal after Easter.

The Pope received Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and authorised him to promulgate two decrees on miracles for sainthood, a decree on martyrdom and five on heroic virtues.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, welcomed the announcement.

“This is wonderful news which will be greeted with thanks to God by people across the world,” he said.

“Newman’s exploration of faith, depth of personal courage, intellectual clarity and cultural sensitivity make him a deeply admired follower of Christ.

“He brings together so many of the best of Catholic traditions shared well beyond the Catholic Church. His canonisation will be welcomed especially in the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion.

“For me the truly remarkable nature of this moment is that this is an English parish priest being declared a saint.

“During his life the people of Birmingham recognised his holiness and lined the streets at the time of his burial. I hope every parish priest in England will hold his head high today knowing Cardinal Newman is declared a saint.”

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury also welcomed the decision of Pope Francis to canonise Blessed John Henry.

Bishop Davies said: “We pray that Blessed John Henry Newman will  soon be recognised as a saint who walked the path to holiness in our own land and amid the Second Spring the Catholic Church which he heralded.

“Blessed John Henry Newman will surely be a guide in our time for the true understanding of conscience and what constitutes the authentic development of doctrine.”

The explicable healing of a young woman in America from life-threatening complications in her pregnancy was confirmed as the second miracle required to recognise 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.

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”.

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.