Pope writes letter on Cardinal Newman
John Paul II has proposed the influential 19th Century English Cardinal John Henry Newman as a model for Christians today.
The Holy Father decribed him as a classicist in the proper sense of the word: "The particular mission entrusted to him by God ensures that John Henry Newman belongs to every time, and place, and people."
Newman was born in the heart of an Anglican family of bankers. In 1842 he retired to Littlemore to study and meditate. His retreat ended in his conversion to Catholicism on Oct. 9, 1845. Two years later he was ordained a Catholic priest. He wanted to show to the English that one could be both a good Catholic and a loyal subject. Newman suffered the criticisms of Anglicans, and of Catholics who regarded his conversion as insincere. Pope Leo XIII recognised his merits and created him a cardinal in 1879.
In John Paul II's letter on Newman, published this week by the Vatican Press Office, he refers to the 'troubled times' in which Newman lived, when old "certitudes were shaken, and believers were faced with the threat of rationalism, on the one hand, and fideism, on the other."
Cardinal Newman's beatification process is well under way. On 22 January 1991, John Paul II recognised his heroic virtues. Some Vatican observers see the letter as a new endeavour by the Holy Father to attract attention to his cause.