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Decision delayed in cause of Cardinal Newman


Cardinal John Henry Newman is seen in a portrait in a church in Rome. The cure of a Boston deacon could be the miracle needed for the beatification of Cardinal Newman, who was one of the great intellectual minds of the Catholic Church in the 19th century. CNS photo from Crosiers

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PEMBROKE -- The panel of theologians at the Rome’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, expected to vote Sept. 30 whether to recommend the congregation’s affirmation of the miraculous nature of a Pembroke deacon’s cure, have extended their proceedings.

The panel is considering the circumstances of Deacon John A. “Jack” Sullivan, assigned to St. Thecla Parish in Pembroke, whose debilitating back condition was healed after he prayed for the intercession of Cardinal John Henry Newman, said Peter Jennings, press secretary for the cause of the beatification and canonization of Cardinal Newman.

“The theologians, who received the relevant documentation eight weeks ago, have asked for more time to study the high profile cause for the beatification of Cardinal Newman,” Jennings said. A miracle must be confirmed for beatification. A second miracle is required for sainthood.

It is unusual for the theologians to comment on their proceedings, let alone their recommendations to the bishops of the congregation, Jennings said.

His release to the media of this information was with the permission of Andrea Ambrosi, the Roman Postulator of the Newman Cause. “Allowing this release is a recognition of the worldwide attention and interest in the cause for Cardinal Newman.”

Cardinal Newman’s remains will lie in state Oct. 31 and Nov. 2 at Edgbaston’s Upper Cloister Hall at the Birmingham Oratory in England, he said. There will be a Nov. 2 special re-internment high Mass celebrated by Bishop Vincent Nichols, the bishop of Birmingham at which Father Paul Chavasse, the Provost of the Birmingham Oratory and Postulator of the Newman Cause will preach. “At the beginning of Mass the coffin containing the remains of Cardinal Newman will be placed on a catafalque outside the sanctuary.”

Jennings said, “At the end of Mass the coffin containing the remains of Cardinal Newman will be taken in procession and placed in a sarcophagus, made of green Italian marble, situated between the columns opposite the Holy Souls Altar in the Oratory Church.”

Deacon Sullivan is not attending the viewing of the remains and Mass, however he is expecting to visit the oratory in 2009, he said.

Details about his condition and its healing are tightly guarded, Deacon Sullivan said. Although he looks forward to a time when he can tell his story, for now he is obeying guidance from the postulators of Cardinal Newman’s cause to be silent. “It really is a beautiful story.”

Father Mark O’Connell, the judicial vicar of the Archdiocese of Boston, said he could confirm that testimony regarding the circumstances of Deacon Sullivan’s case was collected inside the archdiocese and transferred to the proper Church authorities.

The judicial vicar said he could not discuss the matter any further. “I consider the matter a pontifical secret and I will not discuss it.”

Kevin Donovan, a spokesman for the Diocese of Manchester, N.H. told The Pilot there have been no official proceedings or investigations into New Hampshire teenager Andrew Monroe’s unexplained recovery from severe head injuries some have attributed to the intercession of Cardinal Newman through the ministry of Deacon Sullivan.

Monroe suffered his injuries in a car accident.

Applications to attend the re-interment Mass can be downloaded starting Oct. 6 at: www.newmancause.co.uk. Beginning Oct. 7, forms can also be requested by telephone (+44) 0121 455 6323, Jennings said. “The allocation of tickets rests with the provost and fathers of the Oratory, whose decision is final.”

Completed applications must be received Oct 19.

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