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Cardinal Newman beatification hoped for this year as saint guidelines tighten

.- Cardinal John Henry Newman, the famous 19th-century British convert to Catholicism, could be beatified this year even as Pope Benedict tightens the guidelines for canonizations, the Daily Telegraph reports.

On Tuesday CNA reported that Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins told the Vatican’s newpaper, L’Osservatore Romano, that Cardinal Newman’s beatification was “imminent”.  Now he has given an even more specific timeframe, telling the Daily Telegraph that he hoped the beatification would happen this year. 

Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of the Saints, said, "Cardinal Newman was a relevant intellectual, an emblematic figure of conversion from Anglicanism to Catholicism and personally I wish his beatification to happen very soon."

The congregation has been evaluating a reported miracle in which an American was inexplicably cured of a crippling spinal condition after praying to Cardinal Newman.

Cardinal Newman, a prominent cleric in the Anglican Church, caused great controversy when he converted to Catholicism in 1845.   His defense of Catholic belief was remarkable to Victorian England, and his explanations of the development of Christian doctrine continue to be very influential.  He died in 1890.

In his discussion of Newman’s beatification, Cardinal Martins also addressed new regulations Pope Benedict XVI is introducing into the consideration of potential saints’ causes. 

Cardinal Martins said that a 20-page rulebook would soon be distributed to all bishops to "reflect the new spirit introduced by Pope Benedict in the sainthood process" which will involve "more sobriety, more rigor, more accuracy and maximum caution."

Pope John Paul II relaxed rules for investigations of proposed saints, especially by his 1983 abolition of the Promotor Fidei, commonly known as the “Devil’s Advocate,” an official who would argue for the most skeptical interpretation of a candidate’s character and actions. 

483 saints were canonized and 559 blesseds were beatified under Pope John Paul II, while Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate has overseen the canonization of 14 and the beatification of 559.  Some have criticized the large numbers as evidence the Church is acting as a “saint factory.”

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