BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA DIOCESE CELEBRATES A NATIVE SON – VATICAN INSIDER AND SAINT JOHN HENRY NEWMAN

Synod participants met yesterday and again today in circoli minores, that is, small language groups, for discussions. As they have done by publishing syntheses of speeches given in the synod hall, the Vatican does not publish remarks from or about these language groups.

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA DIOCESE CELEBRATES A NATIVE SON

As the diocese of Birmingham in England prepares to celebrate the canonization Sunday of English Cardinal John Henry Newman, another diocese of Birmingham – this time in Alabama – is rejoicing today as a native son, Archbishop Joseph Marino was named by Pope Francis to head the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the Vatican school for diplomats.

Archbishop Marino has been in the Holy See’s diplomatic service since 1988, having served in the Philippines, Uruguay, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Malaysia, East Timor and Brunei.

His studies include degrees in theology and biblical theology from the Rome’s Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University while he was in residence at the North American College from 1975 to 1980. He was an associate pastor at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Birmingham for four years. In 1984 he entered the very academy that he now heads, the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and also returned to the Gregorian for a doctorate in canon law.

Ordained a priest in Birmingham in 1979, he was ordained to the episcopate by the late Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran in Birmingham’s cathedral of St. Paul in March 2008.

VATICAN INSIDER AND SAINT JOHN HENRY NEWMAN

Such an exciting weekend here in Rome as English Cardinal John Henry Newman will be canonized this very Sunday as the first new English saint in about 50 years. Learn more about this prolific prelate, a convert from the Anglican Church to Catholicism, in my conversation with Sister Birgit Dechant, FSO of the International Center of Newman Friends in Rome.

Sr. Birgit is a follower of, expert on and author about the life, work and writings of Cardinal Newman. We examine why Cardinal Newman was so exceptional, his life as an Anglican, his conversion, his work and body of writings as a Catholic priest and his impact on millions over his life ….a rich and multifaceted life…. and since his death.

By the way, on Sunday the Holy Father will give the Universal Church 5 new saints! In addition to Cardinal Newman, the new saints will include Indian Sister Marian Thresia, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family, Italian Sister Giuseppina Vannini, co-foundress of the Daughters of St. Camillus, Brazilian Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes, founder of the Charitable Works Foundation of Sister Dulce and Marguerite Bays, a Swiss consecrated virgin of the Third Order of St. Francis.

I learned that Cardinal John Henry Newman is not only the first new English saint in about 50 years, he is the first English person who has lived since the 17th century officially recognized as a saint!

Why was Newman special? Born in 1801, he was ordained as a Church of England, that is, Anglican priest and was famous already in his 30s for his homilies and writings, including poems, and his dialectical skills. Newman went on to found the Oxford Movement that tried to return to the Church of England many Catholic beliefs and liturgical rites present before the Reformation. In 1845 Newman, joined by some of the Oxford Movement followers, left the Church of England and his teaching post at Oxford University and converted to Catholicism, a life-changing decision after which huge numbers of friends and followers deserted him. But this also enriched the Catholic Church with his thoughts and writings.

Benedict XVI said of Cardinal Newman at his 2010 beatification in Birmingham, English: “Cardinal Newman is a modern man, who took on all of the problems of modernity, he experienced the problem of agnosticism, the impossibility of knowing God, of believing; a man who throughout his life was on a journey, a journey to let himself be transformed by the truth, in a search of great sincerity and great willingness, to learn more, to find and to accept the path to true life.” And we are always on a journey of faith transformed by truth so let’s allow ourselves be inspired by this great English saint.

So tune in Sunday to EWTN to watch the Eucharistic liturgy with the always-moving rite of canonization presided over by Pope Francis