Cardinal John Henry Newman to be beatified
There has been so much excitement abroad about St Paul’s bones that Mary’s Dowry was in need of a bit of a spiritual uplift nearer to home. Until 2007, when Tony Blair crossed the Tiber, the case of the Cardinal had been the most famous conversion from the Church of England to Rome. As Mr Blair continues his delusional quest to change the immutable, there is now a degree of doubt of which conversion was more significant.
Cardinal John Newman, one of the founders of the high church Oxford Movement (known as the Tractarians), converted in 1845 and the Newman Society became his cult. He became ‘Venerable’ in 1991, in recognition of his scholarship and virtuous life. He has now rather cleverly worked a miracle of healing, and, if another ensues, he will be canonised. Significantly, he would be the first non-martyr saint in England since the Reformation.
The Blessed John Henry Newman will now be the subject of the greatest Roman Catholic celebration in the UK since the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1982. He already has a new tomb in the Birmingham Oratory in expectation of waves of new pilgrims. It is likely that Pope Benedict XVI may choose to preside over the ceremony, though he may prefer to delegate it to Archbishop Vincent Nichols who has taken a close interest in the cause. His Holiness might prefer not to visit England at this time - to be sullied by association with Gordon Brown and New Labour - and instead journey here under the premiership of David Cameron for the inevitable canonisation, which would be a far more elaborate and historically significant affair.
And Cranmer would like to suggest 2012 as a suitable year: Olympic euphoria and the patriotic fervour induced by the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee could only be surpassed by the spiritual ecstasy of a papal visit.