Tag Archives: canonization process

John Henry Newman to be beatified by Benedict XVI

It was announced this morning by the Holy See that Pope
Benedict XVI will beatify John Henry Newman on 19th September 2010, during his
visit to the U.K., in the Archdiocese of Birmingham. The Cause of Newman’s
Canonisation has released the following statement:

Newman in cappa.jpg

The Fathers and many friends
of the English Oratories are delighted by the official announcement that our
Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI will beatify our founder, the Venerable John Henry
Newman, in the Archdiocese of Birmingham during his visit to Britain in
September. Newman made his home in the Archdiocese for all his adult life,
first in Oxford, where he lived as an Anglican and was received into the
Catholic Church, and later in Birmingham itself where he founded and worked in
the Birmingham Oratory for over forty years.

The Holy Father’s life-long
devotion to Newman has made a profound contribution to understanding the depth
and significance of our founder’s legacy. His decision to beatify Newman in
person confers a unique blessing upon the English Oratories and all who have
drawn inspiration from Newman’s life and work.

We joyfully look forward to
welcoming the Holy Father, as well as the many pilgrims and visitors who will
come to the Beatification ceremony and visit Newman’s shrine at the Birmingham

We also look forward to the challenging work of preparing for the
Beatification in conjunction with Church and civil authorities. We pray that
the Beatification will fittingly reflect both Newman’s significance for the
Universal Church and the honour paid to our Archdiocese and our country by the
Holy Father’s presence among us.

Very Rev. Richard Duffield

Provost of the Birmingham Oratory and Actor of the Cause of
John Henry Newman

Additionally, the Procurator of the Congregation of the Oratory, Very Reverend Father Edoardo Aldo Cerrato, CO, has written to the all the Oratories of the world on this great gesture of Pope Benedict XVI in personally beatifying the Venerable Servant of God John Henry Newman. The letter is here: Letter-of-the-Procurator-General-of-the-Oratory-Confederation-March-2010.pdf

Matteo Ricci on tract for sainthood?

Fr Matteo RicciThis is old news by now, but the Agenzia Fides reported back in late January that the cause for canonization for Father Matteo Ricci is again active. Ricci always held a special place in my imagination partly because he was (and continues to be) maligned by ideologues. I noted Ricci’s 400th anniversary on this blog back in May.

The sainthood cause for 16th-century Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci was reopened on January 24, following Mass at the Cathedral of San Giuliano in the diocese of Diocese of Macerata-Tolentino-Recanati-Cingoli-Treia, where he was born.

The process of beatification originally launched in 1984 when he was named a Servant of God. Bishop Claudio Giuliodori of Macerata said that although the cause stalled soon after it was opened, “these 25 years have not passed in vain because the Lord has given us clear signs of a deeper understanding of the prophetic intuitions of Father Matteo Ricci.”

Father Matteo Ricci was born in 1552 in the Marche town of Macerata. He entered the Society of Jesus and was missioned by his superiors to study mathematics and astronomy before leaving for the Far East at the age of 26.

Ricci’s itinerary included four years in Goa (west coast of India) before traveling to China. On mainland China he settled in Zhao Qing in the southernmost Guangdong Province; he was proficient in studying Chinese. During his time there he produced his global “Great Map of Ten Thousand Countries,” which revolutionized the Chinese understanding of the rest of the world. A copy of the map is on display at the United States Library of Congress.

In 1589 Father Ricci moved to Zhao Zhou and began sharing European mathematical discoveries with Chinese scholars. He became known as “Li Madou” and was renowned for his extraordinary memory and knowledge of astronomy. He eventually became a member of the court of Ming Emperor Wanli.

In 1601 he was allowed into the Forbidden City of Beijing, where he worked until his death in 1610.

Ricci’s postulator (the person promoting the inquiry for the sainthood) is Jesuit Father Anthony Witwer, who is coordinating and supervising a historical commission that has been established to collect all the writings and documents attributed to Father Ricci, along with those that reference him in publication. The commission’s work will conclude with a critical study on the writings of Matteo Ricci along with a judgment as to the authenticity and value of documents on him.

In a message to the Diocese of Macerata inaugurating commemorations of the 400th anniversary of Father Ricci’s death in Beijing in 1610, Pope Benedict XVI wrote that Father Ricci was “gifted with profound faith and extraordinary cultural and academic genius.” He “dedicated long years of his life to weaving a profound dialogue between West and East, at the same time working incisively to root the Gospel in the culture of the great people of China. Even today, his example remains as a model of fruitful encounter between European and Chinese civilization. In considering his intense academic and spiritual activity, we cannot but remain favorably impressed by the innovative and unusual skill with which he, with full respect, approached Chinese cultural and spiritual traditions. It was, in fact, this approach that characterized his mission, which aimed to seek possible harmony between the noble and millennial Chinese civilization and the novelty of Christianity, which is for all societies a ferment of liberation and of true renewal from within, because the Gospel, universal message of salvation, is destined for all men and women whatever the cultural and religious context to which they belong.”

The Pope continued, “What made his apostolate original and, we could say, prophetic, was the profound sympathy he nourished for the Chinese, for their cultures and religious traditions.” Ricci was likewise “a model of dialogue and respect for the beliefs of others and made friendship the style of his apostolate during his twenty-eight years in China.”

History shows us that Ricci remained faithful to this style of evangelization to the end of his life. He made the gospel accessible to people, especially the intellectual classes by “using a scientific methodology and a pastoral strategy based, on the one hand, on respect for the wholesome customs of the place, which Chinese neophytes did not have to abandon when they embraced the Christian faith and, on the other, on his awareness that the Revelation could enhance and complete” those customs. As the Fathers of the Church did in the time of the encounter between the Gospel and Greco-Roman culture, the author of the “Treatise on Friendship” undertook his “farsighted work of inculturation of Christianity in China by seeking constant understanding with the wise men of that country.”

The concluded his anniversary remarks by saying that we, “Following his example, may our own communities, which accommodate people from different cultures and religions, grow in a spirit of acceptance and of reciprocal respect.”

Anthony E. Clark’s article “Weaving a Profound Dialogue between West and East”: On Matteo Ricci, S.J., for Ignatius Insight is helpful for a much broader perspective. Plus, Scranton University hosts a blog entry on Father Ricci that shows a bit his depth of character that you may find interesting.

John Paul was prepared to resign papacy, focused on his spiritual life

Slawomir Oder.jpgThe postulator (main promoter/researcher) of the cause of canonization of the Servant of God Pope John Paul II, Msgr. Slawomir Oder, published the full text of John Paul II’s resignation letter in his recent book, Why He Is Holy (only in Italian at the moment).

There are other interesting points in the book which you can read about at the CNS site.
Watch the video clip talking about the possibility of an unprecedented papal resignation.

Venerable Servant of God Pierre Toussaint, pray for Haiti (and for us here)

Pierre Tousaint.jpgThe tragedy in Haiti brings to mind the presence of the Venerable Servant of God Pierre Toussaint entombed in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, a native of Haiti and whose cause is being studied for beatification and canonization.

My prayer has turned to the Venerable Servant of God Pierre Toussaint for the nation of Haiti and those ex-patriots in the USA who are anxious to learn of the well-being of their family members there.
Connections give a human face to the horrible situation in another country like Haiti, Here at St. Joseph’s Seminary one of the men in the kitchen, Guy, is Haitian and can’t reach his family in Haiti. We pray for Guy and his loved ones.

Pius and Jewish opinion

Members of The World Jewish Congress, among others, have made their opinions about Pope Benedict’s acknowledgement of his predecessor’s heroic virtues, step two of four with the goal of being recognized a saint. Pope Pius XII was head of the Catholic Church (1939-58) during the Second World War and falling asleep in the Lord in 1958. The WJC thinks Benedict was wrong in moving Pius closer to sainthood. BTW, a pope does not have the power to make saints because he doesn’t have absolute power; that would make him more powerful than God. For the record, God makes saints, the church’s process recognizes what God has done.

This step of saying Pius XII (and others) lived a life of heroic virtue allows for a scientific and theological investigation into the miracles purported to have been wrought through their intercession. A misconception is that a saint causes miracles to happen. Only God has the power to do miraculous things. Catholics believe that miracles are done only by God’s power. The purpose of Jesus’ miracles was “to bear witness to the fact that the Kingdom is present in him, the Messiah. (Compendium of CCC, 108). Hence the saint, while not God, does intercede on behalf of humanity before the Throne of Grace to do something for humanity to build faith and to advance the kingdom of God. Miracles are not magic.
The WJC and other interested parties want access to the Vatican archives of the Pius pontificate and then they want consensus as to what is there. Their request is fair request because the historical record ought to be known. But with 16 million documents from the Pius pontificate it takes lots of time and money to catalog such an archive. Would Jewish groups consider contributing to the archival work with manpower and money? Nevertheless, it is not for Jews or anyone else to determine matters of faith, as WJC pointed out but other Jewish groups don’t think the same, like the Chief Rabbi of France who continues to put forward the thesis that Pius was too silent in the face of evil and should not be considered as a possible saint. And Shira Schoenberg uses materials written by those who oppose the sainthood process of Pius (not surprising) and neglects evidence that contradicts her thesis. Her conclusions to me are mainly due to flawed scholarship and cliche.
I am curious as why the secular Jews follow so closely matters of Catholic faith. They’ve virtually abandoned their own and they want Catholics to listen to their opinions as to what should and should not happen viz. Catholicism. It is one thing to speak about historical matters but it is another to address matters of faith. I don’t know many reasonable-minded Christians telling Jews what to believe and how to live their faith. Perhaps more work needs to be done on the liturgical texts of the birkat haminim, the daily prayers of the synagogue. The birkat haminim is the 12th benediction of 18 which calls for the downfall of various groups of people who harm or detract (apostates) from the Jewish communion. Historically this malediction is oriented toward Christians, according to Jewish liturgical scholars. Perhaps Catholics should have an open protest of these prayers?
Calvin Freiburger’s post on his blog is fair-minded but I think he could be brave enough to openly call a spade a spade: I think Mr. James Carroll is a disingenuous and his work is purely revisionist with the sole purpose to discredit the Catholic Church. Carroll’s own credibility is lacking when it comes to analyzing known evidence on what Pius did and didn’t do. In my opinion Carroll is doing nothing less than to stir up controversy where there is none and to scandalize people where there is no scandal.
One final thought here: no doubt that lives lost during WWII is reprehensible. The Jewish and Christian holocaust of WWII was a failure for humanity. Christians and non-Christians across the world didn’t do all they could to save lives threatened and exterminated; allied governments didn’t do enough to pressure the Nazi regime to change their behavior. Even that some Christians exhibited anti-semitic sentiments is discouraging. Pope Pius XII has not gotten a fair historical review of his work as Supreme Pontiff viz. WWII. A failure to put aside the smear campaign of the Communists is regrettable for the scholars because it is dishonest.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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