Vatican requests exhumation of Cardinal Newman's body

 The Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints has requested that the body of the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, be exhumed from his grave, and placed in the Birmingham Oratory, as part of the process for his beatification, writes Peter Jennings. The Newman Cause is now far advanced in Rome and it is anticipated that Pope Benedict XVI will issue a Decree declaring the Servant of God, John Henry Newman as Blessed, sometime during December this year. Cardinal Newman, Founder of the English Oratory of St Philip Neri, died in his room in the Oratory House, in Edgbaston, on Monday 11 August 1890, aged 89. His Funeral Mass was held in the old church a week later, on Monday 19 August, In a tribute to the best known English churchman of the 19th century more than 15,000 people of all ages lined the route to the Oratory House at Rednal, situated on the outskirts of Birmingham . Here the great English Cardinal was buried in the small, secluded cemetery along with deceased members of his community. Fittingly, the body of Cardinal Newman will be put in a specially made, simple, marble sarcophagus and placed in his Memorial Church , opened in 1907, on the site of the old church, next to the Oratory House.. Details of the sarcophagus and its exact position will be made public during late September. Fr Paul Chavasse, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory and Postulator of the Newman Cause, said: "One of the centuries-old procedures surrounding the creating of new saints by the Catholic Church concerns their earthly remains. These have to be identified, preserved and, if necessary, placed in a new setting which befits the individual's new status in the Church. "This is what we have been asked to do by the Vatican with regard to Cardinal Newman's remains, which have lain at Rednal since his death in 1890. "We hope that Cardinal Newman's new resting place in the Oratory Church in Birmingham will enable more people to come and pay their respects to him, and perhaps light a candle there." Fr Chavasse, added: "Many will surely wish to honour this great and holy man." Meanwhile, Fr Chavasse and the Archdiocese of Birmingham are now in direct contact with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Sir Suma Chakrabarti, to obtain the necessary permission to exhume Newman's body from the grave at Rednal. There has been a delay of some weeks as officials at the Ministry of Justice appeared to procrastinate, but it is expected that this permission will be granted in the near future. At the request of the Congregation for Saints no announcement whatsoever will be made in advance of Newman's body being moved from the cemetery to his new resting place at the Birmingham Oratory.

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