Vatican City, Oct 12, 2019 / 06:10 am (CNA).- The Prince of Wales said Saturday that the canonization of Cardinal John Henry Newman is a cause for celebration among all Britons, those who are Catholic and those who “cherish the values by which he was inspired.”
“His faith was truly catholic in that it embraced all aspects of life. It is in that same spirit that we, whether we are Catholics or not, can, in the tradition of the Christian Church throughout the ages, embrace the unique perspective, the particular wisdom and insight, brought to our universal experience by this one individual soul,” Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, wrote in an Oct. 12 column for L’Osservatore Romano. The column appeared in English in The Tablet.
“Whatever our own beliefs, and no matter what our own tradition may be, we can only be grateful to Newman for the gifts, rooted in his Catholic faith, which he shared with wider society: his intense and moving spiritual autobiography and his deeply-felt poetry,” the prince wrote.
Newman will be canonized by Pope Francis Oct. 13. He was born in 1801, converted to Catholicism in 1845, and died in 1890. Before his conversion, he was a well-known and well-respected Oxford academic, Anglican preacher, and public intellectual. After his conversion, he founded the Birmingham Oratory, a religious community of priests, and was Britain’s most well-known, though sometimes controversial, Catholic. He was a prolific writer of books, poetry, and letters; an educator; an orator; and, more quietly, a minister to the poor in working-class Birmingham.
He was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI during the former pope’s 2010 visit to the United Kingdom.
Prince Charles will attend Newman’s canonization in Rome.
“In the age when he lived, Newman stood for the life of the spirit against the forces that would debase human dignity and human destiny. In the age in which he attains sainthood, his example is needed more than ever – for the manner in which, at his best, he could advocate without accusation, could disagree without disrespect and, perhaps most of all, could see differences as places of encounter rather than exclusion,” Prince Charles wrote.
“At a time when faith was being questioned as never before, Newman, one of the greatest theologians of the nineteenth century, applied his intellect to one of the most pressing questions of our era: what should be the relationship of faith to a sceptical, secular age? His engagement first with Anglican theology, and then, after his conversion, Catholic theology, impressed even his opponents with its fearless honesty, its unsparing rigour and its originality of thought,” he added.
The prince noted the anti-Catholicism Newman faced after his conversion.
“And perhaps most relevantly of all at this time, when we have witnessed too many grievous assaults by the forces of intolerance on communities and individuals, including many Catholics, because of their beliefs, he is a figure who stood for his convictions despite the disadvantages of belonging to a religion whose adherents were denied full participation in public life. Through the whole process of Catholic emancipation and the restoration of the Catholic Church hierarchy, he was the leader his people, his church and his times needed.”
Prince Charles concluded by noting Newman’s capacity for friendship, and his devotion to his friends.
“As we mark the life of this great Briton, this great churchman and, as we can will shortly say, this great saint, who bridges the divisions between traditions, it is surely right that we give thanks for the friendship which, despite the parting, has not merely endured, but has strengthened,” he wrote.
“In the image of divine harmony which Newman expressed so eloquently, we can see how, ultimately, as we follow with sincerity and courage the different paths to which conscience calls us, all our divisions can lead to a greater understanding and all our ways can find a common home.”
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