Newman: Father of Vatican II? Doctor of the Church?

Here’s a very interesting interview, published Wednesday, with Fr. Ian Ker about Cardinal John Henry Newman.  Fr. Ker, a renowned Newman scholar, addresses the ways Newman anticipated the work of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth century’s theological ressourcement that undergirded it by a hundred years; the idea of Newman as a Doctor of the Church; and the development of his canonization cause.  Among much else, Fr. Ker comments:

So, although known locally to be a holy man, there was never the kind of popular cult that a less intellectual figure — working, for example, among the poor or the sick or on the foreign missions — would have inspired.

The momentum for his canonization in fact began some years before the present pontificate. Previously, the people interested in Newman were mainly scholars and theologians, the kind of people who are not necessarily particularly committed to intercessory prayer.

But once the cause was fully launched — and there had been long delays — it was possible to undertake a formal examination of his life and writings and conclude that he was indeed a man of heroic sanctity and worthy of being raised to the altars of the Church.

With this verdict the Holy See concurred and in 1991 Pope John Paul II declared Newman to be “Venerable,”’ the first step toward canonization. That development has led more and more people to ask Newman for his intercession and — assuming Newman is a saint — was bound sooner or later to lead to a miracle.


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