Pope beatifies cardinal
LONDON – Pope Benedict XVI wrapped up his visit to Britain yesterday with the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the 19th century Anglican convert held up by the pope as a model for the faithful because he followed his conscience at great personal cost.
Newman is admired by many Catholics and Anglicans alike, and his influence on both churches is enormous. Yet his defection from the Church of England in 1845 still rankles some in that he abandoned Anglicanism because he realised the truth he was searching for could only be found in the Catholic faith.
Benedict praised Newman on the eve of his beatification at a prayer vigil in London’s Hyde Park that drew an estimated 80 000 people – a significant turnout given Catholics represent only ten per cent of the population in this deeply secular country.
On his third in Britain, the pontiff met with four women and a man who were molested by priests as children, and told British Catholics at a mass in Westminster Cathedral that he was ashamed of such “unspeakable” crimes and hoped the humiliation the church felt would help victims and the church alike heal.
But thousands marched through central London to protest his visit, angered by the abuse scandal as well as Benedict’s hard line against gays, abortion, women’s ordination and using condoms to fight AIDS.
It was the biggest demonstration ever against Benedict in his five-year papacy.
But a few hours later he was warmly welcomed in Hyde Park by British faithful from every diocese in the nation for a prayer vigil for Newman’s beatification.
Newman was one of the founders of the so-called Oxford Movement of the 1830s, which sought to revive certain Roman Catholic doctrines in the Church of England by looking back to the traditions of the earliest Christian church. (ABC.com)