Scholars say canon prayer for Newman

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The Independent Online
SCHOLARS and theologians will gather in Oxford next week to discuss the work of the eminent Victorian spiritual author, Cardinal Newman - and pray for his canonisation.

A total of 130 delegates, including academics from as far away as Japan and Australia, will hear the former Anglican Bishop of London and Catholic priest, Dr Graham Lonard, author William Oddie and the leading Dominican theologian, Aidan Nicholas, speak on Newman's conversion to Catholicism and his links with philosophers, including Wittgenstein and Kierkegaard.

Although the aim of the conference is academic rather than devotional, the issue of sanctifying the cardinal, whose 1864 work Apologia Pro Vita Sua is a religious classic text, is likely to be an underlying theme, particularly as the postulator of his cause, Father Vincent Blehl, will be one of the main speakers. The canonisation prayer is to be offered at every Mass.

Newman, whose abandonment of High Anglicanism's Oxford Movement in favour of Roman Catholicism in 1845 was one of the controversies of the Victorian age, is often used by spiritual advisers to inspire other converts. Although he is officially canonisable, having been made "venerable" in 1991, devotees of his cause now have to wait for miracles to be attributed to him so that he can be beatified and later, canonised.

According to Father Michael Barber, one of the conference organisers, Newman should be canonised for what he wrote: "I'm not talking about the sort of saint who has a glowing halo.He was a deep and holy theologian and his Catholic theology is good enough and deep enough, not only for him to be made a saint, but a Doctor of the Church." This title has been given to theologians such as St Thomas Aquinas and St Augustine for outstanding merit and acknowledged holiness.