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World Nov. 28, 2018

Vatican approves 2nd miracle for Blessed John Henry Newman

By Christine Rousselle

Blessed John Henry Newman’s second miracle reportedly concerns the healing of an American pregnant woman.  (Sir John Everett Millais)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNA)—A second miracle attributed to Blessed John Henry Newman has reportedly been approved by the Vatican, fueling expectation that his canonization could occur as early as next year.

Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom wrote in email newsletter to his diocese last week that he had received a copy of the relatio, or official report, about the second miracle needed for Newman’s canonization.

“It looks now as if Newman might be canonised, all being well, later next year,” wrote Bishop Egan in the newsletter.

According Father Ignatius Harrison, the postulator of Newman’s cause for canonization, there are now two more steps to be taken before Newman can be canonized. First, a commission of bishops has to approve of the canonization, and then Pope Francis must declare him a saint.

Father Harrison told the U.K.’s Catholic Herald that he too hopes that this will occur in 2019, but added that “there’s no way of knowing” if, or when, this will happen. The Catholic Herald reported that the canonization could occur after Easter 2019.

Newman’s second miracle concerned the healing of an American pregnant woman. The woman prayed for the intercession of Cardinal Newman at the time of a life-threatening diagnosis, and her doctors have been unable to explain how or why she was able to suddenly recover.

This miracle was investigated by the Archdiocese of Chicago, and apparently has now been confirmed.

Sister Kathleen Dietz, FSO, is a Newman scholar, and vice-chancellor of the Diocese of Erie.

"Cardinal Newman was a man of integrity,” she told CNA. “A word you don't hear too often, but it simply means that he followed what God wanted him to do, no matter the cost. And it cost him a lot."

Newman was an Anglican priest and theologian who converted to Catholicism in 1845 at the age of 44. His conversion was very controversial, Sister Dietz said, and resulted in him losing many of his friends. Even his own sister never spoke to him again.

He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1847, and was made a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in 1879, although he was not a bishop.

Newman was particularly dedicated to education and was a prolific writer. He also founded two schools for boys. Sister Dietz told CNA she suspects that if he were canonized, he could be named the patron of scholars and students.

"He was very much a scholarly person," she explained, but this did not mean he led an isolated life.  "He was extremely practical, and translated a lot of his scholarship into life,” she said.

Newman believed that evangelization of the faith could be done through quality education, Sister Dietz said. Today, Catholic student organizations at non-Catholic universities are often called “Newman Societies” or “Newman Centers” in his honour.

He was beatified in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI. The first miracle attributed to Newman’s intercession involved the complete and inexplicable healing of a deacon from a disabling spinal condition.