Miracles & Canonisation

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#91
Beatification set for parents of St. Therese

Vatican, Aug. 19, 2008 (CWNews.com) - The Vatican has announced plans for the beatification of the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux.

Louis Martin and Zelie Marie Guerin Martin will be beatified on October 19, with the ceremony taking place in Lisieux, the Vatican liturgical office announced on August 19. The date of the ceremony is significant: October 19 will be Mission Sunday; St. Therese is (along with St. Francis Xavier) co-patron of the Church's missionary effort.

The Vatican also announced plans for the beatification of:

Vincenza Maria Poloni (1802-1855), born Luigia Poloni, an Italian foundress of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Verona; the ceremony will take place in Verona on September 21;
Michael Spocko (1888-1975), a Polish priest; the ceremony will take place outside the church of Divine Mercy in Bialystok, Poland, on September 28;
Francesco Pianzola (1881- 1943), an Italian priest; the ceremony will take place in the cathedral of Vigevano on October 4; and
Franceso Giovanni Bonifacio (1912- 1946), an Italian priest and martyr; the ceremony will take place in the cathedral of Trieste on October 4.

http://www.catholicculture.org/news/fea ... cnum=60161
 
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#92
Full text at link.

Hawaii leprosy settlement faces sainthood dilemma
By AUDREY McAVOY

KALAUPAPA, Hawaii (AP) — In a state known for bustling, exciting tourist destinations such as Waikiki and the Kilauea volcano, Kalaupapa is sacred ground, with a history of disease, suffering and isolation.

Some 8,000 people have died on this remote peninsula since the Hawaiian Kingdom started exiling leprosy patients here in 1866. Many were torn from their families and left to scrounge for shelter, clothes and food. The vast majority were buried in unmarked graves.

Today, visitor interest in Kalaupapa, on the northern edge of Molokai island, is growing. And it will likely increase when the Vatican proclaims Father Damien — the 19th century priest who cared for the leprosy patients — a saint, most likely late next year.

The two dozen patients still living here are eager to celebrate Kalaupapa's most famous resident, a selfless man who cared for leprosy patients when many others shunned them. They would welcome pilgrims at Damien's church and grave.

But therein lies a dilemma. The patients and their supporters also don't want throngs of tourists disturbing the community's privacy and desecrating the land.

"The priority is the patients. That's why we have to approach this very delicately," said state Sen. J. Kalani English. "Their privacy is paramount, their security is paramount, their dignity is paramount."

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jAfA ... AD93BF9IO0
 
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#93
Blood of Saint Januarius liquifies again in Naples cathedral

Naples, Sep 21, 2008 / 03:51 am (CNA).- The blood of Saint Januarius, patron saint of Naples, has reportedly liquefied again in a continuation of the centuries-long miracle.

In Naples’ Cathedral on Wednesday, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, the Archbishop of Naples, held up a vial containing the blood of the third-century saint while a traditional white handkerchief was waved, ANSA reports. The thousands packing the cathedral and the square outside cheered and set off fireworks.

The cardinal said that the blood had apparently liquefied before it was removed from the strongbox in which it is stored.

The dried blood of Saint Januarius, a bishop who was beheaded during a persecution by the Roman Emperor Diocletian in September of 305, traditionally liquefies on the anniversary of his martyrdom. Additionally, it annually liquefies on the Saturday before the first Sunday in May and on the December 16 anniversary of a 1631 eruption of the volcano Mt. Vesuvius, an eruption believed to have been stopped by San Januarius’ intercession.

The liquefaction of the blood can take hours and even days. Some consider its failure to liquefy an omen of looming disaster. After one such failure in 1527, tens of thousands died from the plague. In 1980, 3,000 died in an earthquake which devastated parts of southern Italy.

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=13857
 
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#94
12 comments at link so far.

Britain's next saint? Vatican to decide if Cardinal Newman should be 'blessed' - putting him one step away from sainthood

By Simon Caldwell
Last updated at 1:35 AM on 29th September 2008

Cardinal Newman could be 'blessed' by the Vatican on Tuesday, taking him one step closer to becoming a saint
The Vatican will on Tuesday decide whether Cardinal John Henry Newman should be declared ‘Blessed’ – a move which would put him just one step away from becoming Britain’s next saint.

Theologians will meet to consider if the inexplicable healing of a man with a crippling spinal condition was a result of the intercession of the Victorian cleric.

If they conclude in favour, then Pope Benedict XVI will declare Newman ‘blessed’ in December and he will be formally beatified at St Peter’s Square, Rome, in spring next year.

Another miracle will be needed for him to be made a saint and the search will begin as soon as the beatification has taken place.

A positive decision by the ‘theological consultors’ will also signal the imminent exhumation of Newman from a rural cemetery in Rednal, Worcestershire, and his reburial in a marble sarcophagus in the Birmingham Oratory, Edgbaston, the church he founded in the 19th century.

Father Paul Chavasse, the provost of the Birmingham Oratory and the postulator of Newman’s cause for sainthood, said he was ‘enormously excited’ that his work was nearing completion.

‘A lot of people have worked so hard for so long towards this, particularly members of my own religious community, some of whom are no longer alive,’ he said.

‘We hope to see their work crowned with success before too many months have elapsed.’

The panel of theologians will examine the healing of Jack Sullivan, 76, a deacon from
Marshfield, Massachusetts, who was left ‘bent double’ by a serious spinal disorder but was cured after praying to the cardinal.

Medical experts have already concluded that there is no scientific explanation for the healing and the theologians will seek to ensure there are no doctrinal obstacles either.

If they approve, the miracle will be rubber-stamped by the cardinals of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Sainthood and the case sent to the Pope for his direct approval

The Pope has been an admirer of the theology and philosophy of Cardinal Newman since the 1940s and is keen to make him a saint. As soon as he signs the decree the cardinal can be described as ‘blessed’.

A positive outcome of the meeting will also lead to the release of plans by to rebury Newman in a tomb in fitting with his new status.

The Government has already granted undertakers a licence to dig up the cardinal’s body 118 years after his death.

It has also given the go-ahead for Catholic experts in holy objects to fly in from Italy and retrieve ‘major relics’ from the corpse.

These will most likely be bones from his fingers which will be shared out between key churches in Britain - as well as one being sent to the Vatican.

They will be placed in shrines where pilgrims can pray to Cardinal. A selection of minor relics - small fragments of bone and cloth - will also be collected.

The Vatican has rejected claims by gay activists that Cardinal Newman’s desire to share a grave with his close friend, Father Ambrose St John, showed he was a closet homosexual.

Newman was born in the City of London in 1801. He became a Church of England vicar and led the ‘Oxford movement’ in the 1830s to draw Anglicans to their Catholic roots.

He converted to the Catholic faith at the age of 44 after a succession of clashes with Anglican bishops made him a virtual outcast from the Church of England.

He courted fresh controversy among Catholics who considered him with distrust and his attempts to open a church at Oxford and a university in Dublin were sabotaged by his Catholic enemies.

However, his intellectual talents combined with his virtues and his care for the poor won him his cardinal's red hat from Pope Leo XIII in 1879.

He died in his room at Oratory House, Birmingham, at the age of 89 years and more than 15,000 lined the streets for his funeral a week later. His cause for sainthood was opened in 1958.

Benedict XVI first revealed the depth of his admiration in 1990 when he credited the cardinal’s 'theology of conscience' for helping to lay the foundation for a post-war Germany against the negation of conscience under Hitler.

Newman could become the first English saint since 1970 when Pope Paul VI canonised 40 martyrs of the Protestant Reformation.

The last British saint was St John Ogilvie, a Scottish Jesuit martyr, canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1976.

Newman
 

rynner2

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A positive outcome of the meeting will also lead to the release of plans by to rebury Newman in a tomb in fitting with his new status.

The Government has already granted undertakers a licence to dig up the cardinal’s body 118 years after his death.

It has also given the go-ahead for Catholic experts in holy objects to fly in from Italy and retrieve ‘major relics’ from the corpse.

These will most likely be bones from his fingers which will be shared out between key churches in Britain - as well as one being sent to the Vatican.
No body in exhumed Newman's grave

The grave of the 19th Century Cardinal John Henry Newman did not contain his body, the Catholic Church has revealed.

The plot, at the Oratory House, Rednal, near Birmingham, was excavated on Thursday at the Vatican's instruction.

His remains were to have been moved to the Birmingham Oratory, in preparation for Newman's anticipated beatification.

Newman's body may have decomposed, as his coffin was not lead-lined. Its absence will not affect the progress of his cause in Rome, a spokesman said.

In a statement released on Saturday, Peter Jennings from the Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory, said: "Brass, wooden and cloth artefacts from Cardinal Newman's coffin were found.

"However there were no remains of the body of John Henry Newman.

"An expectation that Cardinal Newman had been buried in a lead-lined coffin proved to be unfounded.

"In the view of the medical and health professionals in attendance, burial in a wooden coffin in a very damp site makes this kind of total decomposition of the body unsurprising.

"The absence of physical remains in the grave does not affect the progress of Cardinal Newman's Cause in Rome."

'Inexplicable' cure

Newman is in line to become the first non-martyred English saint since before the Reformation.

The step-by-step process for his beatification began at the Birmingham Oratory in the late 1950s.

It continued with Pope John Paul II declaring Newman to be Venerable in January 1991.

However, in order for Newman to be beatified - the next stage in the process towards sainthood - a miracle needs to be credited to him by the Vatican.

It is investigating a claim that Jack Sullivan, a deacon from Boston, Massachusetts, was cured of a serious spinal disease after praying to the cardinal.

If it is to beatify Newman, the Catholic Church has to accept this was a miraculous cure, with the Pope - known to be an admirer of the cardinal - taking the final decision.

A second miracle would need to be credited to Newman before he could be canonized.

Mr Jennings said that some of the cardinal's locks of hair which had been sent to Sullivan before his "inexplicable" cure had always been in the possession of the Birmingham Oratory.

He said that these items, along with the artefacts which were found in the grave, would be placed in a casket for a Vigil of Reception on 31 October and 1 November.

The vigil will be followed by a High Mass at the Oratory Church in Edgbaston the next day.

Newman, who founded the Birmingham Oratory and was known for his work with the poor, converted to Catholicism in 1844. He died in 1890.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west ... 652841.stm

The Vatican has rejected claims by gay activists that Cardinal Newman’s desire to share a grave with his close friend, Father Ambrose St John, showed he was a closet homosexual.
Has Father Ambrose's body disappeared too?
 
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Catholics get ready for India’s first women saint

KOCHI (ICNS): Church in India awaits a historical moment on Oct. 12 when Pope Benedict XVI will declare Kerala-born Blessed Sister Alphonsa a saint, the first Indian woman to get that recognition.

Pope Benedict will be leading the ceremonies in Vatican with thousands of Indians attending it. Bishops, priests and nuns from the Blessed’s native land have already began to leave for Vatican.

A group of senior nuns of the Blessed Alphonsa’s Franciscan Clarist congregation left for Rome on Oct. 1, carrying the casket of relics or parts of materials the late nun used. They also carried a portrait of the late nun to be displayed during the canonization.

Syro Malabar Major Archbishop Varkey Vithayathil and other senior bishops of the Church would attend the ceremonies at Vatican. Indian priests and nuns studying in Vatican and migrant Indian Christians will also attend the ceremonies, senior nuns said.

Catholics in Kerala would mark the day with special prayers. A special thanks-giving Mass and public meeting would be held in Bharananganam, a sleepy town in Kottayam district, where the Blessed nun was buried.

The Palai diocese expects thousands to attend the canonization day prayers at the tomb of the nun, which has already a popular pilgrim center for Catholics across India.

The canonization of Sister Alphonsa, who died in 1946, comes after a long drawn process that began in 1953 with a what is technically called the diocesan process for her canonization.

In 1985, Pope john Paul-II beatified her during his India visit. Early 2008, Vatican announced the date for her elevation to sainthood, giving final stamp of approval for a miracle attributed to her.

The nun was born on Aug.19, 1910 in a village called Kudamaloor in Kottayam district. She was baptized Anna and lost her mother when she was very young. She entered the convent in 1927 and died in 1946, succumbing to her long and painful illness.

The sainthood recognizes her heroic virtues of cheerfully enduring her suffering and her saintly life based on the tenants of Catholic faith and Biblical spirituality.

http://www.indiancatholic.in/report.asp?nid=11469
 
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#98
Bios of the Sts at link.

Pope canonizes 4 new saints
http://www.catholicculture.org/news/hea ... toryid=733

October 13, 2008
Pope Benedict XVI presided on October 12 at the canonization of four new saints. St. Gaetano Errico, a priest from Naples, founded a congregation in honor of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary; St. Mary Bernard (Verena) Bütler founded the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Sinners amid heroic apostolic labors in South America; St. Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception, a Franciscan Clarist nun, is India’s first canonized saint; and St. Narcisa de Jesus Martillo Moran was a lay Dominican from Ecuador who practiced severe mortifications.

In his homily at the canonization Mass-- attended by 40,000 people in St. Peter's Square-- the Holy Father remarked on the day's Gospel reading, saying that the parable of the wedding feast "anticipates the final feast of heaven, to which the Lord invites us every day and in which we should participate with the wedding garments of His grace."
 

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This echoes my first thought on hearing of the empty grave..

Did prudish Victorians refuse to bury Britain's next saint alongside his male friend - because they feared he was gay?
By Simon Caldwell
Last updated at 8:32 AM on 04th November 2008

For more than a century, it was believed, his body had rested in peace in a small rural cemetery in Worcestershire.
But when the coffin of Cardinal John Henry Newman - the man expected to be Britain's next saint - was exhumed last month, all the undertakers found were brass handles, a brass plate and a few tassels from his hat.
Church authorities said that soil acidity had destroyed the body and the coffin.
However, the mystery took a new twist yesterday, with an expert debunking the acidity theory.

It prompted claims that the cardinal had never been buried there - because of Victorian concerns over his sexuality.
The cardinal had stipulated three times in his will that he wanted to be buried in the same grave in Rednal as his friend Father Ambrose St John.
His coffin was buried in a shallow grave above that of his friend, a priest with whom he had shared a house and who had died almost two decades before him.

Last month's exhumation took place with the intention of preparing the cardinal's body in preparation for his likely beatification, the first step towards becoming a saint.

Afterwards, Professor John Hunter, of Birmingham University, became suspicious of the acidity theory and decided to test the soil at the cemetery.
Professor Hunter discovered that the earth was not acidic enough to have dissolved all the cardinal's hard tissue since his burial in 1890.
'The soil was reasonably acidic but not so much that we would expect hard tissue to go,' he said.
'If the hard tissue would go then the coffin plate would go as well, which it didn't.
There has to be another explanation to why those remains weren't found.
'It doesn't take rocket science to suggest that they were either missed or they weren't there in the first place.'

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who believes the cardinal was a closet homosexual, said his dying wish might have been deliberately ignored by officials who were suspicious of the men's attachment.
'It is quite possible, because of Victorian Catholic sensibilities about homosexuality, that the cardinal's body was never in the first place buried with Father Ambrose St John.
'That opens up a whole new question of where are the bodies.'
Undertakers were not allowed to disturb the coffin of Father St John, because of regulations.

However, Professor Hunter's findings may lead to demands for a fresh excavation of the grave to determine if the cardinal's burial was faked and his coffin weighed down with rocks instead of a corpse.

Father Ian Ker, an Oxford University theologian and author of the definitive biography of Cardinal Newman, said he believed it was now necessary to determine the whereabouts of the bodies.
'What they ought to do is open up Ambrose St John's coffin and see if there is anything there,' he said.

After Father St John's death, Cardinal Newman wrote of his love for him, saying he missed him immensely.
The cardinal held himself partly to blame for his friend's death, believing he had overworked him.
As he approached his own death, Cardinal Newman wrote: 'I wish, with all my heart, to be buried in Fr Ambrose St John's grave - and I give this as my last, my imperative will.'

But although some see this as evidence of their homosexuality, scholars such as Father Ker maintain that there is no evidence for this. Cardinal Newman's private journals reveal him as a heterosexual who believed he was called to celibacy, they say.
Catholic officials had hoped to transfer the cardinal's remains to the Birmingham Oratory, the church he founded, where they could be better venerated by pilgrims.
Instead, the few relics that remain, including a lock of hair, were last weekend encased in a shrine at the church.
Cardinal Newman's cause for sainthood was opened more than 50 years ago.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... d-gay.html
 
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Doctors' panel won't rule on 'miracles' at Lourdes
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/world/A ... 97400.html
By JAMEY KEATEN

An international doctors' panel appointed by the Roman Catholic Church says it's getting out of the "miracle" business at Lourdes.
The panel will no longer judge whether pilgrims to the French shrine could have benefited from "miracle" healing - a huge shift from the centuries-old way of deciding what makes the cut as a divine cure.

"It seems 'miracle' may not be the right word to use anymore," Bishop Jacques Perrier of the Diocese of Tarbes and Lourdes said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "It's no longer a black-and-white question."

The shrine in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains in southwestern France draws 6 million pilgrims a year, many of whom believe that its spring water can heal and even work miracles. Pope Benedict XVI traveled there in September to celebrate the 150th anniversary of apparitions of the Virgin Mary to 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous.

Over the years, more than 7,000 pilgrims have claimed to have been healed after bathing in or drinking Lourdes water. The church has officially deemed 67 cures "miraculous."

In 1954, the Tarbes-Lourdes diocese created the panel of doctors today known as the International Medical Committee of Lourdes, which one doctor said for years all but decided whether healings were miracles.

But last weekend, the panel, known by its French initials CMIL, decided from now on it will only rule on whether healing cases were "remarkable," leaving it to the church to decide whether they are miracles, panel secretary Dr. Patrick Theillier said.

"It's a sort of rebellion, if you will, against laws that don't concern us - and shouldn't," he said by phone. "The medical corps must be independent of the ecclesiastic power."

"Before, what we presented to the church was a gift all wrapped up - and all the church had to say was 'I approve,' without making a lot of effort," said Theillier, referring judging would-be miracles. "Not today."

The church relies on seven criteria devised in 1734 to decide miracle healing, such as the gravity of the ailment, the accuracy of an original medical diagnosis and the suddenness and durability of the healing.

But applying those so-called Lambertini criteria today is "almost always impossible," the Notre Dame of Lourdes Sanctuary said in a report.

The church most recently approved a miracle at Lourdes in 2005. Catholic officials said Anna Santaniello of Italy was taken to bathe in the spring on a stretcher and came back on her own two feet, cured of severe heart disease and ailments that had left her unable to walk or speak properly.

The Lourdes committee is independent of the Vatican's miracle-vetting outfit, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which investigates reports of miraculous cures as part of the church's saint-making process.

"Our congregation doesn't deny what Lourdes is doing, but we do not recognize what they are doing," the Rev. Peter Gumpel, a Jesuit who works with the Congregation, said in Rome. "Our procedures are much stricter."

He said he knew of no other shrine that had a similar miracle-making outfit.

Gumpel said the Congregation still uses the Lambertini rules, established by Cardinal Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini - the future Pope Benedict XIV - but said they have been modified as medical science progressed.
 
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Nine candidates move toward canonization, beatification
http://www.catholicculture.org/news/hea ... oryid=1347
December 09, 2008

On Saturday, December 6, the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints issued a series of decrees advancing the causes of 6 candidates for canonization and 3 candidates for beatification.

Archbishop Angelo Amato, the prefect of the Congregation, met with Pope Benedict XVI and received the papal authorization to issue the decrees, which recognized the validity of miracles attributed to the intercession of 6 candidates, and recognized the "heroic virtue" of the 3 others.

The miracles were attributed to the intercession of the following, who have already been beatified and are now qualified for canonization:

Blessed Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski (1822-1895), a Polish bishop;
Blessed Arcangelo Tadini (1846-1912), an Italian priest;
Blessed Francesc Coll y Guitart (1812-1875), a Spanish Dominican priest;
Blessed Rafael Arnaiz Baron(1911-1938), a Spanish Cistercian friar;
Blessed Mary of the Cross (nee Jeanne) Jugan (1792-1879), the French foundress of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor; and
Blessed Caterina Volpicelli (1839-1894), the Italian foundress of the Institute of Handmaidens of the Sacred Heart.

The following were proclaimed to have demonstrated "heroic virtue" in their lives, and may now be beatified if miracles are attributed to their intercession:


Giacinto Bianchi (1835-1914), an Italian priest;
Andreas (ne Jan) Van Den Boer (1841-1917), a Dutch religious; and
Marie Clare of the Child Jesus (nee Libania do Carmo) Galvao Meixa de Moura Telles e Albuquerque (1843-1899), a Portuguese religious.
 
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U.S. deacon cured through Cardinal Newman to visit Birmingham Oratory


Deacon Jack Sullivan of Massachusetts and his wife Carol will be in Birmingham from November 11 to 12. He will tour Newman’s room and library and the Oratory church, built in the early twentieth century to memorialize the nineteenth century theologian and Catholic convert. The deacon will see the desk at which Cardinal Newman wrote his Apologia Pro Vita Sua, a defense of his 1845 conversion to Catholicism.

The deacon will also visit Newman’s grave at Rednal and parts of Birmingham, such as Digbeth, where the cardinal worked in a poor neighborhood that was part of his first Oratorian parish, the Birmingham Oratory reports.

Deacon Sullivan will later visit Oxford, visiting Newman’s two colleges of Trinity and Oriel, and will also visit Littlemore, where Newman was received into the Catholic Church. The Brompton Oratory in London, which was founded by Father Newman, will be on Deacon Sullivan's itinerary too.

Deacon Sullivan will also visit Westminster Cathedral, where he will preach at Mass on the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica.

Sullivan's Connection to Newman

In June 2000 he had awoken to excruciating pain. A CT scan revealed that all or most of the vertebrae and discs in his back had turned inward and were squeezing his spinal cord. A neurosurgeon advised him to have immediate surgery to prevent paralysis.

After seeing a show about the cardinal on EWTN, he first prayed to Cardinal Newman for the pain to cease so that he could continue his diaconate training. The pain ceased for a year, but came back with a fury.

Sullivan had surgery in the spring of 2001 during which his surgeon discovered that in addition to his other injuries the protective membrane surrounding his spine had been torn in at least two places.

Sullivan could not walk and suffered agonizing pain, facing the prospect of not being able to return to his diaconate classes. On August 15, 2001, four days after his surgery, he again prayed to Cardinal Newman.

“I felt tremendous heat and a tingling feeling all over that lasted for five or 10 minutes,” Sullivan told EWTN. “After I experienced this, I immediately stood up straight. I was able to walk, not with a walker or cane, but on my own, without any difficulty or pain. I walked all over the hospital, just joyful. I never needed any pain medication after that.”

Deacon Sullivan said the visit to Birmingham Oratory will be “the greatest moment of my life.”

“To visit the place where Newman prayed, lived and worked will be a wonderful experience. I call Cardinal Newman my ‘intercessor and special friend.’ Birmingham was the center of Newman’s whole life,” he said.

Writing in “A Story of a Miracle,” Deacon Sullivan has said Cardinal Newman’s writings are relevant in view of present tendencies towards intellectualism and lack of doctrine in “this so called progressive and secular age.”

“The supremacy of God has given way to the supremacy of man especially in his sense of self-sufficiency. As Newman suggested, modern man needs to recapture his former sense of awe and wonder at the majesty of God and our total dependence upon His love and mercy. I remember Newman suggests that what’s worse than the atheist is the Christian who thinks God thinks just like he does.”

Father Paul Chavasse, Provost of the Oratory and Actor of the Cause for Newman’s Canonization, said Deacon Sullivan’s visit will be a moment of “special grace.”

“God has chosen Jack’s healing as the means of Newman’s Beatification, which will be such an important moment for the Church of our times,” he commented.

The location and date of Cardinal Newman’s beatification is still undecided, the Birmingham Oratory reports.

The official website for the Cause for Cardinal Newman’s Canonization is at http://www.newmancause.co.uk.
 
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Vatican probe next after Diocese of Metuchen reviews possible miracle
http://www.mycentraljersey.com/article/ ... 1003/rss01

By JEFF GRANT
STAFF WRITER

The path to possible sainthood for a Carmelite nun whose case was investigated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen now heads to the Vatican.

A 20-minute ceremony inside the St. John Neumann Pastoral Center at diocesan headquarters formally concluded the local inquiry Monday. The case involving Mother Mary Angeline Teresa McCrory next will be reviewed by the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

"I'm pleased that the investigation was completed within four months," said Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski. "We were honored to be asked by the Vatican to investigate the possible miracle," Bootkoski added.

The case in question involves a family in the general diocesan area who has not been identified for reasons of privacy, according to diocesan spokeswoman Joanne Ward. The diocese includes parishes in Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren counties.

The family had prayed to McCrory — the foundress of The Carmelite Sisters For the Aged and Infirm in Germantown, N.Y. — to intercede with God after their unborn child was diagnosed with a genetic abnormality. When the baby was born, the defect was not present in the degree that it had been expected. The miracle and the birth occurred in the Diocese of Oakland, Calif., although few other details, including the date of the birth as well as when the family first prayed, were unavailable Monday.

McCrory was considered a woman of great faith, and spent her life caring for the elderly and ailing in long-term care facilities operated by the order, which runs 17 facilities around the country. She died in 1984 at age 91.

The diocese's review of the case, begun in May, involved interviews with doctors and other witnesses, including people who knew the medical facts of the case and people who prayed for the miracle, according to Lori Albanese, chancellor of the diocese and notary of the investigation. A total of 10 to 15 individuals were interviewed in all, Albanese said.

"We were very pleased with the quality of testimony," she said. "The witnesses were very accessible."

In addition, the child was visited by two different doctors not connected with her medical case in any way, said Dr. Andrea Ambrosi, postulate of the cause — or the chief advocate for the cause. Ambrosi, who spoke through an interpreter, will be the one to deliver the box containing the information gathered by the diocese to the Vatican.

Both Ambrosi and Albanese said the Vatican's review could take years. Among the factors affecting the time frame are the number of cases the Vatican routinely is asked to review. But Albanese said that McCrory's case offers a strength that others do not, because a study of her life already has been completed.

A number of sisters in McCrory's order were at the Neumann Center for Monday's ceremony.

Also on hand were some of McCrory's family, including her nephew John McCrory, 78, and his wife, Irene, also 78, of Stamford, Conn.

"We just feel wonderful about it," John McCrory said of the effort to confirm the miracle that possibly would lead to sainthood for his late aunt.

"If she were here and talked to you," said Irene McCrory, recalling her late relative, "she would make you feel like you were the most special person on the face of the Earth."
 
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I wonder if any pigs were cured?

Faith Conquers Fear of Swine Flu for Fans of Naples's Patron Saint
www.nytimes.com/2009/09/21/world/europe ... ss&emc=rss
By ELISABETTA POVOLEDO

NAPLES — The scene was familiar on the feast day of the patron saint of Naples, St. Januarius: the packed cathedral; the procession with the saint’s relics, including two glass vials said to contain his clotted blood; the mounting anticipation during the solemn ceremony, culminating in an explosion of applause at the archbishop’s joyful announcement: “I give you the good news, the blood has liquefied.”

But on Saturday a singular announcement colored the annual ritual that has enthralled Neapolitans since the 14th century. “You can kiss the reliquary,” Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, the city’s archbishop, told the excited crowd. “Know that every proper hygienic sanitary precaution has been taken.”

Anxiety over swine flu, which the World Health Organization declared a pandemic in June, has been particularly acute in this southern Italian city. When a 51-year-old man infected with the H1N1 virus died in Naples this month, only a handful of relatives attended the funeral and the pallbearers wore sanitary masks for fear of contagion, Italian newspapers reported.

And two weeks ago, Neapolitan transit workers went on strike, saying they were afraid of catching swine flu from dirty city buses.

Initially, in response to flu worries, local church officials mulled over measures forbidding worshippers from kissing the reliquary containing what they believe is the blood of San Gennaro, as he is known here, a local bishop martyred in 305. But that risked upsetting the followers of this popular saint who Neapolitans believe protects their city.

After some debate, Cardinal Sepe convened a committee of experts to determine the risk of contagiousness from kissing the sealed glass bauble that encases the vials with the substance. One of the few times kissing was forbidden altogether was during a cholera outbreak in 1973.

Last week, the experts approved the devotional practice.

“As long as all the necessary hygienic precautions are taken, there is practically no risk to public health,” said Marcello Piazza, a professor at the University of Naples Federico II, and a member of the committee.

Many hundreds of people in Italy are thought to have been infected by the H1N1 virus, but it has not directly claimed any lives, Professor Piazza said. “More people die of common influenza,” he said. Another death was reported this weekend, of a woman in Messina, in Sicily.

So until next Sunday, when the relics are returned to the fortified safe where they are kept during the year, worshippers in Naples can share a close encounter with their patron saint. After each kiss, a disinfected handkerchief will be passed over the glass of the reliquary, a measure that had already been in practice for years.

“I have faith, if God wants me to get a terrible disease, I’ll get one, blood or no blood,” said Clelia D’Ammanbrosca, a Neapolitan worshipper who had arrived at the cathedral at the crack of dawn to get a spot near the high altar.

Little is known about St. Januarius, believed to have been a Neapolitan bishop and early Christian martyr, whose relics are preserved in an ornate chapel in the Naples Cathedral. The liquefaction of the substance that the faithful believe to be his blood takes place three times a year, in December, May and on Sept. 19, coinciding with his feast day. It was first recorded in 1389.

Theologically, the Vatican has never accepted the liquefaction as an official miracle, preferring to refer to it as an inexplicable phenomenon, said Gennaro Luongo, a professor of hagiography and ancient Christian literature at the University of Naples Federico II. But the Vatican acknowledges the widespread veneration of the saint.

“Since the 15th century, a popular belief holds that if the blood does not liquefy or only partially liquefies it bodes badly for the city,” Professor Luongo said. “People poke fun at this, but predictions are common to many religions. It is part of popular religiosity.”

Over the centuries, many have tried to find scientific explanations for the phenomenon, and Cardinal Sepe has said, according to Italian news reports, that he intends to have the liquid studied.

“I put myself at his disposal,” said Luigi Garlaschelli, a chemist who closely examined the liquid in a previous study concluding that thixotropy, the property of certain gels to liquefy when they are shaken, might be one reasonable explanation. But because the vials are sealed, he was doubtful that any future experiments would be carried out on the substance itself.

But faith, in the case of Saint Januarius, seems to be trumping science.

“Some people have been kissing San Gennaro for years, and if they hadn’t been able to do so this year they might have panicked, immediately thinking of an epidemic, which isn’t the case,” Professor Piazza said. “In the long run, the disadvantages outweighed the advantages of a ban.”
 

escargot

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This was mentioned on R4 just now. The relics are in Liverpool at the moment.
What interested me most was that as part of the tour, they're visiting HMP Wormwood Scrubs!
Bizarre, but then I'm not a Catholic.

Relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux arrive in Britain for tour


The relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux, a 19th-century Roman Catholic nun, have arrived in Britain for a month-long tour of England and Wales.

A casket containing some of her bodily remains, which were preserved after her death from tuberculosis at 24 in 1897, has arrived in Kent. St Thérèse was known for introducing the concept of The Little Way.

She taught that a person did not need to execute acts of heroic virtue to lead a saintly life. It became popular after the publication of her autobiography, The Story of a Soul. Her teaching was simple and centred on helping people to do everyday things with great love and without complaining.

St Thérèse, who was canonised in 1925, said that she would “let fall a shower of roses on earth” after her death and many of the faithful who visit her relics are expected to bring roses and ask for them to be blessed.

The relics will tour 28 centres of prayer and worship, starting at St John’s Catholic Cathedral in Portsmouth today. During her short life, St Thérèse said that she longed to visit Portsmouth.

Canon Dave Hopgood, of the cathedral, said: “It’s a great honour, not just for Catholics and Christians but it’s a great honour for the city, too.

“People will come not just from our diocese but from the whole of the South of England. She was just an ordinary person who lived an ordinary life extraordinarily well. She was one of the great saints.”

Other cathedrals on the tour will include Plymouth, Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, Salford, Lancaster, Middlesbrough, Leeds, Nottingham and Westminster. The casket will also visit York Minster, Wormwood Scrubs prison and a hospice in London.

St Thérèse, a French Carmelite nun, was born in Alençon, Normandy, and entered a Carmelite convent in Lisieux, aged 15.

Organisers said that the arrival of the casket, containing pieces of her thigh and foot bones, was likely to attract hundreds of thousands of pilgrims.

Monsignor Keith Barltrop, the organiser of the tour, said that the relics were an aid to help the faithful to come into deeper contact with God.

He said: “St Thérèse has always been popular, I suppose for her simplicity and the very direct, almost childlike relationship she had with God and the fact that she was very ordinary and full of love for God and other people teaches us that everyone can be holy.

“I suppose we live in such a complicated age that people value the kind of direct approach she has.”
 
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HOLY FATHER TO CANONISE FIVE BLESSEDS ON 11 OCTOBER
http://212.77.1.245/news_services/press ... /a2_en.htm

VATICAN CITY, 1 OCT 2009 (VIS) - At 10 a.m. on Sunday 11 October the Holy Father will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Square, during which he will canonise five blesseds, according to a communique released today by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.

The five future saints are: Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski (1822-1895), Polish former archbishop of Warsaw and founder of the Congregation of Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary; Francesc Coll y Guitart (1812-1875), Spanish professed priest of the Order of Friars Preachers and founder of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Jozef Damian de Veuster (1840-1889), Belgian professed priest of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and of the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar (PICPUS); Blessed Rafael Arnaiz Baron (1911-1938), Spanish oblate friar of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, and Mary of the Cross Jugan (nee Jeanne) (1792-1879), French virgin and foundress of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

OCL/CANONISATIONS/...VIS 091001 (190)
 

escargot

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US deacon claims miracle cure by 19th century British cleric

US deacon claims miracle cure by 19th century British cleric


In 2001 a Boston man turned to the late Cardinal Henry Newman to help him overcome a crippling spinal condition. Today the same man turned to the archbishop of Westminster to help him overcome impenetrable English accents.

Deacon Jack Sullivan, whose miraculous recovery will lead to the beatification next year of Newman, a 19th century theologian, began a six-day tour with a press conference at Archbishop's House.

With the Most Rev Vincent Nichols repeating questions from the floor so Sullivan could hear and understand them better, 71-year-old Sullivan told his audience about his illness and subsequent cure.

He told the journalists, nuns and priests present: "Wonderful things can happen to an ordinary guy. You don't have to be anybody special. This gives us all hope."

In his case the "wonderful things" came in the form of an inexplicable and sudden recovery from severe spinal disc and vertebrae deformities. One night Sullivan saw a TV documentary on Newman and prayed for his intercession. Next morning he got out of bed and began to walk.

He remembered the announcer asking viewers to contact the postulator for the Newman cause should they receive some "divine favour" and called Birmingham Oratory, which was founded by Newman.

"Something very special had happened to me from a very special person," he said. "This thing is real, it's reality."

Medical experts convened by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Vatican body charged with investigating miracles, concluded his recovery resulted from prayer. Sullivan said his own doctor could offer no medical explanation.

During his first visit to England, Sullivan will go to the Oratory, where he will visit Newman's room, his private chapel and his library. He will also travel to Rednal, where Newman was buried in 1890, and Littlemore, Oxford, where he was received into the Roman Catholic church in 1845.

The Vatican must approve two miracles before making someone a saint. Having declared Sullivan's healing to be one, officials in Rome have turned their attention to a teenager in New Hampshire who recovered from severe head injuries after praying to Newman.

Newman is frequently cited as a source of fascination for Pope Benedict XVI and former prime minister Tony Blair, but has yet to arouse the same excitement as St Thérèse of Lisieux, whose relics drew crowds of 286,000 in a recent tour.

Relics from his grave were put on display in Birmingham last year. The church had been confident there would be pieces of bone to be divided among Catholic shrines, but only wood and brass fittings were found when the grave was excavated in 2008.

His path to sainthood has generally faced greater obstacles than St Thérèse, from failure to prove miraculous cures of ulcers to demands by gay campaigners that his body be left in peace in a grave shared – at Newman's express wish – with his lifelong friend, the Rev Ambrose St John.

When asked whether interest in Newman would increase following his beatification, the archbishop of Westminster replied: "Cardinal Newman is a very particular character in a very particular time of English history and English life.

"When he died there was huge and popular support and devotion. It is said 20,000 people lined the streets. I do believe that in the next 15 to 20 years, given the fact of his beatification and an awareness in our society that self-sufficiency is not enough, there will be growing interest in him as a man who lived a very holy life."

Except for the martyrs, Newman would be the first English saint to be canonised since well before the Reformation.

Blessed Britons

The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales are a group of Christians canonised in 1970 by Pope Paul VI to represent the Catholics martyred in England and Wales between 1535 and 1679.

They include Edmund Campion, an English Jesuit priest who was executed by Queen Elizabeth I for refusing to reject the Catholic faith, and Ambrose Barlow who was hanged, dismembered, quartered and boiled in oil during the reign of Charles I. His head was later displayed on a pike.

If Newman were to be canonised it would make him the first non-martyred British saint since St Thomas de Cantilupe of Hereford, who died in 1282.
 

rynner2

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Pilgrims flock to Australian 'miracle house' with mysterious oil flowing down walls
Hundreds of Roman Catholics have made a pilgrimage to a modest suburban house in Sydney in the hope that a mysterious oil weeping from its walls can cure illnesses.
By Mark Chipperfield in Sydney
Published: 1:29PM GMT 22 Dec 2009

Lina Tannous, the owner, said that the yellow oil started to appear in the bungalow shortly after Mike, their 17-year-old son died in a car accident in 2006.

Mrs Tannous and her husband George believe that oil has special healing qualities, including healing one woman's cancer.

Mike is a messenger between us and God," said Mrs Tannous, 39. "He has healed so many people."

The numbers of believers arriving at the house ballooned in the wake of last weekend's announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that Mary MacKillop, a nun who died in 1909, will become Australia's first saint.

The oil, which has not been identified, initially appeared on framed photographs of the dead teenager and on religious icons, but now flows down almost every wall of the three-bedroom house.

The "weeping house", which is open to the public every day, is now attracting hundreds of pilgrims from all over the world. Tourists including a Muslim family from Dubai have also visited the house.

"Over the weekend we had people everywhere, we even had to close the street," said Mr Tannous.

The couple believe that their son has been "hand-picked by God" to perform miracles on earth.

Mr Tannous, 50, is now urging church authorities to look at his son's healing achievements. He said: "My son's spirit is in this house. He loved God and Jesus. He has come to this house and the oil is his spirit."

The family, which emigrated from Lebanon 37 years ago, claims that the oil has been responsible for six miracles, including a woman who was told by doctors she could not have a child and became pregnant. Following the news of Mary MacKillop's imminent canonisation, there has been widespread discussion among Australian Catholics about who might be the country's next saint.

George and Lina now hope that the Vatican will beatify his late son.

"There is no question, this is a miracle," said Mr Tannous. At this time of year, it is a Christmas miracle."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... walls.html
 

Anome

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For a moment there, I thought it said "Mr Tenuous", which would be appropriate.

Meanwhile, as MacKillop fever builds, practically every Catholic school in the country is renaming itself "Mary MacKillop Catholic College" so that when they get the word from Rome, they can become "Saint Mary MacKillop Catholic College".
 

rynner2

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I'm a bit naive, I suppose, but I'd always assumed that a bustling new country like Australia would have rejected old world nonsense like religion and such-like.

Seems I was wrong, and all the old superstitions still live on, down under... :(
 

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I am still deeply miffed that my beloved Julian of Norwich has never been canonized. Never beatified either, for that matter. I consider it a personal insult since she's my favorite mystic/writer ever!

Clearly the Vatican and I need to have a talk!! :twisted:
 

Zilch5

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rynner2 said:
I'm a bit naive, I suppose, but I'd always assumed that a bustling new country like Australia would have rejected old world nonsense like religion and such-like.

Seems I was wrong, and all the old superstitions still live on, down under... :(
Oh Gosh, yes, it all does live on here - at least to a point.

By the way, the owners of the "Miracle House" have since been arrested for fraud. Not religious fraud, but financial shennanigans! :lol:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010 ... site=local
 

colpepper1

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rynner2 said:
Seems I was wrong, and all the old superstitions still live on, down under... :(
Somewhat disrespectful to the aboriginal people, but each to their own. Or are they 'primitive'.
 
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Nice pic of Members of The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in a procession which carried the relics of St Oliver Plunkett through Drogheda in celebration of the 90th anniversary of his beatification at:
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ima ... 3614_1.jpg

Saintly cause: Celebration of Oliver Plunkett
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ire ... 33614.html

FIONA GARTLAND in Drogheda

Mon, Jul 05, 2010

Up to 500 people took part in a procession to mark the 90th anniversary of the beatification of St Oliver Plunkett in Drogheda yesterday.

The procession included Primate of all Ireland Cardinal Seán Brady and Bishop Donal McKeown, auxiliary bishop of Down and Connor. It was the culmination of a festival of prayer in the town that had begun on June 18th and was dedicated to “The Young Church”.

The relics of St Oliver Plunkett, a former primate of all Ireland who was martyred in 1681, were carried shoulder high in a glass reliquary atop a red velvet cushion by four Knights of Columbanus. Led by a cross bearer and altar servers carrying red glass lanterns, the windblown procession meandered its way from the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes to St Peter’s Church, the home of the relics.

Other Knights of Columbanus also walked in the procession, their off-white capes emblazoned with red crosses flapping in the gusts.

Women from the Order of Malta wore black capes with the order’s distinctive Maltese cross on them and, on their heads, black lace mantillas.

The Carlingford Pipe Band followed boy scouts from St Oliver’s Unit in Drogheda and from the 18th Belfast Holy Cross unit. Other participants included the Legion of Mary, the local Pioneer group, and representatives from other religious and lay organisations.

The Belgian ambassador to Ireland, Robert Devriese, also took part. He had been invited following the return of a relic of the “True Cross” from Ghent to Drogheda. The Mayor of Drogheda, Paul Bell, was also present.

Despite occasionally leaden skies, rain did not fall on the procession and the relics were carried into St Peter’s to a rendition of Faith of Our Fathers from the pipe band.

Mass followed and was led by Cardinal Brady with concelebrants including Bishop McKeown, Bishop Gerard Clifford, auxiliary bishop of Armagh and Canon James Carroll, the local parish priest.

Giving the homily, Bishop McKeown said Oliver Plunkett, like all of us, was a man of his time and had wrestled with the questions that his times threw at him. Referring to the Ryan and Murphy reports, on the institutional and sexual abuse of children, he said we could never underestimate the effect that trauma had on young lives.

© 2010 The Irish Times
 
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Sainthood for Australian nun who exposed paedophile priest

Sainthood for Australian nun who exposed paedophile priest
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/fro ... 29336.html
PÁDRAIG COLLINS in Sydney

THE FOUNDER of the Sisters of St Joseph, who will be canonised as Australia’s first saint next month, was excommunicated from the Catholic Church in 1871 after exposing a paedophile Irish priest, it has been revealed.

Australian television has reported that Sr Mary MacKillop discovered that children were being abused by Fr Patrick Keating in the Kapunda parish near Adelaide in south Australia.

She told Josephites director Fr Julian Tenison-Woods about the abuse. It was then reported to the vicar general and Fr Keating was sent back to Ireland, where he continued to serve as a priest.

Fr Charles Horan, a Galway man who was a colleague of Fr Keating, swore revenge on Sr MacKillop and her order. After only four years as a nun, she was excommunicated by Adelaide’s bishop Laurence Shiel, who was originally from Wexford.

She was turned out on the street with no money and nowhere to go.

Five months later, though, on his deathbed, Bishop Shiel instructed that Sr MacKillop be absolved and restored.

Fr Paul Gardiner, who has advocated for Sr MacKillop’s canonisation for 25 years, said Fr Horan had been working for Bishop Shiel and had urged him to break up the Josephites. When Sr MacKillop, who was then aged 29, refused, she was banished from the church. “She submitted to a farcical ceremony where the bishop had . . . lost it,” Fr Gardiner said.

“He was a puppet being manipulated by malicious priests. This sounds terrible, but it’s true.”

In 2009, 100 years after Sr MacKillop’s death, Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide publicly apologised to the Sisters of St Joseph for her wrongful excommunication.

“On behalf of myself and the archdiocese, I apologise to the sisters . . . for what happened to them in the context of the excommunication, when their lives and their community life was interrupted and they were virtually thrown out on the streets . . . This was a terrible thing,” he said.

After being reinstated by the Catholic Church, Sr MacKillop became known for her work with disadvantaged children, female ex-prisoners and prostitutes.

She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1995 following a Vatican decree that in 1961, a Sydney woman was cured of leukaemia through Sr MacKillop’s intercession. The second miracle required for sainthood occurred in the mid-1990s when a woman sent home from hospital to die due to inoperable lung and brain cancer was cured.

The family of Cork man David Keohane, who was beaten almost to death in Sydney in 2008, said his waking from a coma in Cork University Hospital in March last year was due to their praying to Sr MacKillop.

“All we can really say is that faith in Mary MacKillop helped them to get through this,” Steve Carey, a Keohane family friend, said at the time.

Sr MacKillop, who was born in Melbourne to Scottish immigrant parents in 1842 and died in Sydney in 1909, will be canonised by Pope Benedict in Rome on October 17th.
 

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Father Paul Gardiner, who spent 25 years lobbying for Mary MacKillop's canonisation, has rejected recent media reports that he linked her excommunication to her reporting child abuse by a clergyman.

Both Father Gardiner and ABC TV's Compass program's executive producer deny making an inference in a new documentary that Mother MacKillop's ousting from the church in 1871 was prompted by her exposure of a Kapunda priest's abuse of local children - as reported by ABC Online and Fairfax.

"Early in 1870, the scandal occurred and the Sisters of Saint Joseph reported it to Father Tenison Woods, but Mary was in Queensland and no-one was worried about her," Father Gardiner told The Australian.

Father Gardiner, considered the nation's foremost authority on the history of MacKillop, said his words had been twisted to suit the "ill will" of media outlets.

"There was a long chain of causation. Somehow or other, somebody typed it up as if to say I said Mary MacKillop was the one to report the sex abuse," Father Gardiner said.

"I never said it. It's just false; it's the ill will of people who are anxious to see something negative about the Catholic Church. There's already enough mud to throw, though."

The executive producer of Compass, Rose Hesp, told The Australian that the documentary, which will air on the ABC on Sunday, does not suggest MacKillop was excommunicated because of her role in exposure of the child abuse.
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/new...-excommunication/story-e6frg6nf-1225935119611
 

DougalLongfoot

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"Early in 1870, the scandal occurred and the Sisters of Saint Joseph reported it to Father Tenison Woods, but Mary was in Queensland and no-one was worried about her," Father Gardiner told The Australian.
Seeing as you obviously missed this bit the first time.
 
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DougalLongfoot said:
"Early in 1870, the scandal occurred and the Sisters of Saint Joseph reported it to Father Tenison Woods, but Mary was in Queensland and no-one was worried about her," Father Gardiner told The Australian.
Seeing as you obviously missed this bit the first time.
Yeah, the RCC hierarchy are good at rewriting history.
 
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Australian saint a symbol of justice for the abused
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-11550229
By Nick Bryant BBC News, Sydney

Pilgrims praying at the tomb of Sister Mary MacKillop Faithful Catholics and victims of sex abuse are both claiming Australia's first saint as their own

Feisty, anti-authoritarian, a lover of the bush, a friend of Aborigines and a champion of a "fair go" for the needy.

Were Australians to come up with the qualities they most wanted in their first saint, many would find themselves describing Sister Mary MacKillop.

But while faithful members of the Catholic Church in Australia are claiming her as their own, victims of clerical abuse say she should become their patron saint.

The daughter of Scottish immigrants, who was born in Melbourne in 1842, she devoted her early life to teaching children in the small South Australian community of Penola, where she came to be regarded as something of an educational pioneer.

It was in Penola that she also founded an order of nuns, Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, who were dedicated to helping the poor and opening up more schools in the bush.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

She was very Australian. When there was an important issue on the table, she stood up for the justice of that situation”

End Quote Sister Monica Cavanagh
Pilgrimage

Some of Australia's five million Catholics believe that Sister Mary MacKillop has miraculous healing powers, which is why she is being canonised in Rome on Sunday (17 October).

The Vatican credits her with two miracles, the second of which was the cure of a woman suffering from terminal cancer, who prayed to Sister Mary every day and who carried a small portrait of her wherever she went. Doctors were unable to explain her unexpected recovery.

All week, pilgrims have been converging on the chapel and museum at the site in North Sydney where she died. They have been kneeling at her tomb, brushing their fingers lightly over her enigmatic portrait and paying homage to her life and memory.

Never before has the gift shop at Mary MacKillop Place done a more flourishing business, with pilgrims queuing up to buy freshly minted St Mary MacKillop T-shirts, candles, postcards, pens, and even fridge magnets.

"She was very Australian," says Sister Monica Cavanagh. "Very feisty and very tough. She certainly knew how to hold her ground - perhaps a bit of her Scottish heritage was coming out there - and when there was an important issue on the table, she stood up for the justice of that situation."

For five months in 1871 and 1872, Mary MacKillop was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church, and there is evidence to support the claim that it was because of her part in the exposure of a priest accused of abusing children in a parish north of Adelaide.
Sister Mary MacKillop Sister Mary MacKillop was briefly excommunicated from the Church

"It's a nasty footnote to a heroic story," according to Father Paul Gardiner, who led the campaign for her canonisation.

"I don't think media people should take it as though it's the main story, particularly since they've got a lot of closer, modern scandals occurring in the Catholic Church to concentrate on.

"Why tarnish the occasion of Mary's canonisation with this miserable bit of scandal?"
Sex abuse victims

But in the run-up to her canonisation, Australian victims of sex abuse at the hands of members of the Catholic priesthood have seized upon the story to claim Mary MacKillop as their own.

Carole Neilsen's son was allegedly abused by priests at a Catholic boarding school in rural New South Wales, and she views Mary MacKillop as much as a heroine as a saint.

"In a way, it's a godsend," she says. "It's a person that we can look to and rally behind to look for the justice and the compassion that the Church should be showing now. And I think victims all around the world are going to be claiming St Mary MacKillop as the patron saint of people abused by priests."

So the defenders of the Church and its fiercest critics are both trying to appropriate Australia's first saint: a long-time symbol of hope for the infirm, and a newfound symbol of justice for the abused.
 
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