Feature

Archbishop Longley extends welcome to Pope Benedict XVI

24/03/2010 10:00 am

Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham

Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham

The Mass of Beatification of the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, 1801-1890, will be celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI at Coventry Airport in the Archdiocese of Birmingham during the morning of Sunday 19 September, the last day of his four-day visit to the United Kingdom.

An estimated 250,000 pilgrims and more than 4,000 members of the media from all over the world are likely to attend the two-hour ceremony that will be followed by Pope Benedict XVI reciting the Angelus, as he does in public every Sunday at noon.

Local flavour and colour, but not specific detail about the historic visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Midlands was given during a relaxed 45-minute press conference Cathedral House, Birmingham, on Friday 19 March.

Bishop William Kenney CP, Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, who has pastoral responsibility for Coventry, read a special message of welcome from Archbishop Bernard Longley, who is in El Salvador, at the invitation of CAFOD, to mark the 30th Anniversary of the death of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

In his message the Archbishop of Birmingham said: "I am delighted that we shall be welcoming His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the Archdiocese of Birmingham on Sunday 19 September 2010, during his State Visit to the United Kingdom.

"I also look forward very much to welcoming pilgrims from within and beyond the UK to Coventry Airport where Pope Benedict will personally beatify the Servant of God, the Venerable John Henry Newman (1801 – 1890).

"At that time it will be good to welcome the media from the UK and from countries throughout the world as they help so many others experience and share in this important moment in the life of the Catholic Church.

"This Papal visit is a tremendous honour for the Archdiocese of Birmingham and indeed for the Catholic Church in England and Wales as it will be the
first time during his Pontificate that Pope Benedict has personally beatified any Servant of God.

"It is remarkable that a little over 28 years earlier, at the same venue, on Pentecost Sunday, 30 May 1982, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass and administered the Sacrament of Confirmation during the third day of his Pastoral visit to Great Britain.

"During his homily on that occasion Pope John Paul said: 'I cannot come to the Midlands without remembering that great man of God, that pilgrim for truth, Cardinal John Henry Newman. His quest for God and for the fullness of truth – a sign of the Holy Spirit at work within him – brought him to a prayerfulness and a wisdom which still inspire us today.'

"Cardinal Newman died in his room at the Oratory House in Edgbaston on 11 August 1890, aged 89. On 22 January 1991 Pope John Paul II recognised the heroically virtuous life of Cardinal Newman, the first of three steps towards canonisation, and granted him the title 'Venerable'.

"A miracle of healing through the intercession of Cardinal Newman was required before his beatification could take place. On 3 July 2009 Pope Benedict XVI promulgated the Decree that accepted as a miracle the medically inexplicable cure of Deacon Jack Sullivan from the Archdiocese of Boston, in the United States of America.

"Deacon Sullivan was cured of a serious spinal disorder through the intercession of the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman on 15 August 2001, the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady. This cure has been meticulously investigated by the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints during an exhaustive step-by-step process that began in the Archdiocese of Boston in November 2006."

Archbishop Bernard Longley ended his message: "I am delighted to announce today that Deacon Jack Sullivan and his wife Carol have accepted my invitation to be official guests of the Archdiocese of Birmingham during their visit here for the beatification of Cardinal Newman."

Bishop William Kenney and Bishop David McGough, Auxiliary Bishop, who has responsibility for the northern part of the diocese, Canon Tom Farrell, Parish Priest, of Christ the King, Coventry, local co-ordinator of the event, and Fr Timothy Menezes, Parish Priest of St Thomas More, Coventry, where Coventry Airport is situated, all captured the tremendous excitement and anticipation that has already built-up throughout the Archdiocese of Birmingham since the official announcement was made by Buckingham Palace on Tuesday 16 March.