Pope pays tribute to Newman's contributions

Benedict XVI arrives to Cofton Park in Birmingham England on Sunday morning Benedict XVI arrives to Cofton Park in Birmingham, England on Sunday morning

In his homily during the beatification Mass, the Holy Father remembered the mark Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman left on Christianity, particularly to education. Noting his greatness together with that of English saints, he highlighted the Blessed's role as a "pastor of souls."

Pope Benedict called "right and fitting" that, among England's traditional martyr saints, "the holiness of a confessor" should be recognized. Cardinal Newman, "while not called to shed his blood for the Lord, nevertheless bore eloquent witness to him in the course of a long life devoted to the priestly ministry, and especially to preaching, teaching, and writing," he said.

The Pope noted that the Blessed is "worthy to take his place" together with other British saints and scholars, among whom, he said, are the likes of Sts Bede, Hilda Aelred and Duns Scotus

"In Blessed John Henry, that tradition of gentle scholarship, deep human wisdom and profound love for the Lord has borne rich fruit, as a sign of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit deep within the heart of God's people, bringing forth abundant gifts of holiness."

His motto as a cardinal, "Heart speaks unto heart," the Pope added, gives insight into Newman's understanding of Christian life as a call to holiness, through the desire of the heart of man to enter into communion with the Heart of God.

"He reminds us," said Benedict XVI, "that faithfulness to prayer gradually transforms us into the divine likeness."

Referring to Sunday's Gospel message, which teaches that the faithful Christian can but serve only one master, he spoke of the "definite service" to which the "divine Master" called Blessed Newman. The Pope said he was called to apply his "keen intellect and his prolific pen" to the important issues of his time.

"His insights into the relationship between faith and reason, into the vital place of revealed religion in civilized society, and into the need for a broadly-based and wide-ranging approach to education were not only of profound importance for Victorian England, " he noted, "but continue today to inspire and enlighten many all over the world."

Benedict XVI paid particular tribute to Newman's role in laying the groundwork for today's Catholic educational institutions. He recalled the Blessed's vision of the unity of "intellectual training, moral discipline and relgious commitment" in schools, adding that the ideas of Blessed remain an inspiration for instructors today.

He said, "indeed, what better goal could teachers of religion set themselves than Blessed John Henry's famous appeal for an intelligent, well-instructed laity: 'I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it'.

"On this day," said Pope Benedict, "when the author of those words is raised to the altars, I pray that, through his intercession and example, all who are engaged in the task of teaching and catechesis will be inspired to greater effort by the vision he so clearly sets before us."

Concluding with a reflection on the Blessed's life as a "pastor of souls," Benedict spoke of "his warmth and humanity underlying his appreciation of the pastoral ministry."

Recalling his simple and wide-reaching Christian commitment to people of all walks through the Oratory and on the streets of Birmingham, the Pope said, "(n)o wonder that on his death so many thousands of people lined the local streets ...

"One hundred and twenty years later, great crowds have assemble once again to rejoice in the Church's solemn recognition of the outstanding holiness of this much-loved father of souls."

Closing his homily, the Holy Father recited a prayer written by Cardinal Newman himself to celebrate the beatification and give thanks to God.

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