17 February 2010

Cardinal Pell visits Newman's Oratory at Birmingham

During Cardinal Pell's visit to the society last year some of our members accompanied him on a trip to the Birmingham Oratory.  The following report has recently gone up on the Bishops Conference's web-site.

Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, took the opportunity during a visit to England to make a short private visit to the Oratory House in Edgbaston, opened by Cardinal Newman in 1852, writes Peter Jennings.

Cardinal Pell was shown the shrine of Cardinal Newman's remains in the Oratory Church, visited Newman's Library and celebrated Mass in Latin at the altar in Newman's Room, on Thursday, 5 March.

Fr Paul Chavasse, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory and Actor of the Newman Cause, showed the Australian visitor Cardinal Newman's galero - the famous red hat once given to new Cardinals by the Pope.

Cardinal Pell shared his thoughts about his first visit to the house where Cardinal Newman spent much of his Catholic life: "I was profoundly moved. I thought it was deeply significant that Cardinal Newman's desk and chapel were together in the same room. All of his work was very much of a unity and I prayed that a smidgen of his ability to preach the word of God effectively to his contemporaries would pass to me.

"I noticed that there was a crucifix in front of me as I stood at the altar. I always find this a big help to recollection in celebrating Mass. This is the same at every altar where Mass is celebrated but is especially true of the altar where Cardinal Newman celebrated Mass."

Asked about Newman's beatification, Cardinal Pell replied: "I would very much like to see Cardinal John Henry Newman beatified. All of his many admirers would like to see this happen soon."

Asked about the significance of such a beatification, the Australian prelate emphasised: "Cardinal Newman knew well the two worlds of learning, Catholic and Secular. We need his memory and example to inspire many other Catholic writers and preachers today."

Cardinal Pell added: "Their task is to explore the opportunities now open to us to explain the Christian message - the romance of orthodoxy - to the many people throughout the world who are uneasy and searching."

At the end of his visit to Newman's Room, Cardinal Pell wrote in the visitors book: "A special thanks for the privilege of celebrating Holy Mass in this room where the work of the Kingdom was carried forward so wonderfully."

Cardinal George Pell was in Oxford (4-7 March) at the invitation of the Newman Society of Oxford University, to deliver the inaugural Thomas More Lecture on the subject: "Varieties of Intolerance - Secular and Religious." (Friday, 6 March).

Cardinal Pell also visited Newman's two Oxford Colleges, Oriel and Trinity.

During a previous visit to England the Cardinal had visited Littlemore, where Newman was received into the Catholic Church on 9 October 1845, by Fr (now Blessed) Dominic Barberi.

Phogrographs by Peter Jennings

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