By Peter Jennings
CARDINAL JOHN Henry Newman needs our prayers if he is to become a saint, the new postulator of his cause said this week.
Fr Paul Chavasse, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory, appealed to Catholics to see the famous convert "as their friend and intercessor in Heaven" in order to advance his journey towards sainthood.
He said that the Cardinal's canonisation was eagerly awaited both within and without the Church, but that without proof of two miracles it could not proceed.
For his beatification to take place we need a proven physical miracle, and then a second miracle for his canonisation.
"Everything else is complete. I encourage everyone to see John Henry Newman as their friend and intercessor in Heaven and to redouble their prayers for these miracles," Fr Chavasse said.
Fr Chavasse was elected Postulator General during the General Congregation of The Oratory held in Rome earlier this month, at which representatives of all the 74 Oratories of St Philip Neri worldwide were present.
While in Rome he had a 20-minute meeting with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Archbishop Jose Saraiva Martins, whom the Oratorian described as "a keen and knowledgeable devotee of Cardinal Newman".
Newman's cause was opened in 1958, almost 70 years after his death. In 1986, the Vatican completed its investigation into the life, virtues, and reputation for holiness of the former leader of the Oxford Movement, and in 1991 Pope John Paul 11 declared that Newman's life was marked by heroic Christian virtue. Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham welcomed Fr Chavasse's appointment and said he hoped it would inject new vigour into the cause.
"All who have a devotion to Cardinal Newman worldwide will be encouraged by this news," he said.
The 200th anniversary of the cardinal's birth will be marked on February 21 next Year with a Mass near Newman's birthplace, now the home of the London stock exchange.
Archbishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster will be the preacher and celebrant.