By HUGH KAY
STRONG hopes that the 40 English and Welsh martyrs may be canonised during the Second Vatican Council were expressed this week by
Fr. Philip Caraman, Vice-Postulator of the Cause, speaking just after the second anniversary of its resumption.
Pope John has also hinted that canonisations may he announced or take place during the time of the Council. Speaking to a group of pilgrims in connection with Sunday's canonisation of St. Martin de Porres, the Pope commented :
"Other heroes and heroines of Christ may be raised to the altars during the coming Ecumenical Council".
And on Tuesday night, Archbishop O'Hara. the Apostolic Delegate, warmly supported Fr. Caraman's hopes. "Please God", he declared at the Guild of Ransom annual meeting, "this . . canonisation of the martyrs during
the Council . will indeed happen". (Full report page 8.) The Canonisation of the forty. said Fr. Cararnan, would serve, and not hinder, the movements for Christian unity.
" Whether it will actually
happen is anyone's guess and God's secret," he told me, " But working here, in the Vice-Postulation Office, I have strong hopes that it will be so, not from inside knowledge, but simply from what appears to be indications of God's wishes.
" It will happen in His time and not ours. But so far as we can interpret the signs and judge the needs of our day, there would seem to be no more lilting time for the canonisation during a General Council of the Church, which has within its terms of reference the cause of Christian reunion."
Here are some of my questions and Fr. Cararnan's answers:
ARE the Anglicans disturbed by our current emphasis on .ne martyrs?
"I‘jtyr only have they raised no
Is protest in the past two years; on the contrary they have cooperated with the Cause, by their prayers and by their donations. Many cases of favours granted to Anglicans after they had prayed for the martyrs' intercession have been published in our bulletins.
" When the traditional grave of Blessed John Plessington was opened recently, we received every assistance from the Anglican Bishop of Chester, and from the Vicar of Burton. Both were every bit as disappointed as we were when the results were not immediately conclusive."
Ts there any danger that, by 1. recalling old scores, we may offend against charity?
IF you are going to convert Eng land you cannot jettison the martyrs or stow them away. The charity required for reunion must be based on dedication to truth. This the martyrs themselves—many of them converts and some of them convert ministers— are the key to the charity we need for this work.
"Playing down the truth does not make it easier for non-Catholics to become Catholics. It does the reverse, because it blurs the reasons why the Catholic Church is unique, the very reasons, in fact, for joining her.
"Arc we to he afraid of preaching simple devotion to the Church? The martyrs died for it, and for their countrymen, because, in the simple theological terms of the day, those who died outside the Catholic Church were lost.
" Legitimate theological development has removed the sharpness of that position, but it remains true that there is no unity outside the context of complete submission to him to whom Christ gave the power of binding and loosing This is what the martyrs stand for."
WHAT are the signs you speak of?
" IN addition to a great wave of 1 spontaneous enthusiasm for the Cause and devotion to the martyrs among the faithful. the first 18 months after the resumption presented us with 22 cures -obtained after prayers for the martyrs' intercession — which for those with eyes to see, clearly manifest the intervention of God.
" These are signposts pointing the way to the truth. For me, the whole thing turns on the words of Blessed Henry Morse, uttered on the scaffold before he died.
" He .spoke of the Catholic faith as 'the only faith confirmed by miracles still continuing by which the blind see and the dumb speak and the dead are raised to life.'
"As far as 1 can judge," Fr. Caraman added, "never before in our lifetime have there been so many signs pointing to where the truth lies."
PrWO last points from Fr. Caraman:
NGLISH and Welsh Catholics ' realise what they owe to Cardinal Godfrey who has been the prime inspiration of this work. Without his direction we would be no-where. And who can say that in 10 years' time the canonisation of the martyrs will not be recognised as the most important event in our history so far this century.
2. There is abundant inspiration
in the lives of the priestmartyrs. and for Iayfolk in martyrs like John Rigby and Anne Lyne.