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Pope Benedict XVI to beatify Cardinal Newman at Coventry Airport

Pope Benedict XVI will beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman, 1801-1890, the best known English churchman of the 19th Century, during an open air public Mass at Coventry Airport, in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, on Sunday 19 September 2010.

The ceremony will take place during the historic first State Visit by a Pope to Great Britain at the invitation of HM The Queen, from Thursday, 16 September to Sunday 19 September.

John Henry NewmanThe official announcement of the State Visit was made by Buckingham Palace at noon on Tuesday 16 March.

No further details about the Beatification Ceremony were given during a relaxed, 45 minute press briefing hosted by Jim Murphy MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Jim Murphy, a Catholic, is the Minister leading the preparations for the visit.

During the briefing, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, emphasised that it would be the first time that Pope Benedict XVI had beatified any Servant of God during his pontificate.

Since the election of Pope Benedict XVI in April 2005, all beatification ceremonies, with a few exceptions in Rome, have been held in the diocese where the Servant of God was either born, lived or died.

Beatification ceremonies usually last about two hours and Pope Benedict XVI is likely to recite the Angelus at the end of the Mass, as he does in public every Sunday, usually at noon

During the press briefing Jim Murphy MP, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, and Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, answered a wide range of questions without going into specific details about the programme for the visit.

Archbishop Nichols confirmed that the public Mass at Coventry would be celebrated at Coventry Airport.

After the official announcement, Father Richard Duffield, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory and Actor of the Cause of John Henry Newman, issued the following statement:

‘The Fathers and many friends of the English Oratories are delighted by the official announcement that our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI will beatify our founder, the Venerable John Henry Newman, in the Archdiocese of Birmingham during his visit to Britain in September.

Since the election of Pope Benedict XVI in April 2005, all beatification ceremonies, with a few exceptions in Rome, have been held in the diocese where the Servant of God was either born, lived or died‘Newman made his home in the Archdiocese for all his adult life, first in Oxford, where he lived as an Anglican and was received into the Catholic Church, and later in Birmingham itself where he founded and worked in the Birmingham Oratory for over forty years.

‘The Holy Father’s life-long devotion to Newman has made a profound contribution to understanding the depth and significance of our founder’s legacy. His decision to beatify Newman in person confers a unique blessing upon the English Oratories and all who have drawn inspiration from Newman’s life and work.

‘We joyfully look forward to welcoming the Holy Father, as well as the many pilgrims and visitors who will come to the Beatification ceremony and visit Newman’s shrine at the Birmingham Oratory.

‘We also look forward to the challenging work of preparing for the Beatification in conjunction with Church and civil authorities. We pray that the Beatification will fittingly reflect both Newman’s significance for the Universal Church and the honour paid to our Archdiocese and our country by the Holy Father’s presence among us’.

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