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This title provides a timely portrait of John Henry Newman, whose beatification is set for Summer 2009, dealing with the man's exceptional intellect and some of the sensational events surrounding his life and death. John Henry Newman was the most eminent English-speaking Christian thinker and writer of the past two hundred years. James Joyce hailed him the 'greatest' prose stylist of the Victorian age. His prediction of the current mass atheism in Western culture and his response to the implications for religion of science and evolution, have special relevance for our time. A problematic campaign to canise Newman started fifty years ago. After many delays John Paul II declared him a 'Venerable'. Then Pope Benedict XVI, a keen student of Newman's works, pressed for his beatification. But was Newman a 'Saint'?In Newman's Unquiet Grave , John Cornwell (author of A Thief in the Night and Hitler's Pope ) tells the story of the chequered attempts to establish Newman's sanctity against the background of major developments within Catholicism, including his profound influence on the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. By his own admission Newman was a 'literary' man, first and foremost, a circumstance he himself believed barred him from sainthood. His life was marked by personal feuds, self-absorption, accusations of professional and artistic narcissism, hypochondria, and same-sex friendships that at times bordered on the apparent homo-erotic. The love of Newman's life was a fellow priest, Ambrose St John, who predeceased him and with whom he was buried by 'undying' choice. There have been chronic difficulties with Newman's beatification - including doubts about the mandatory miracle of healing involving an American deacon.Finally, came the controversial decision to disinter Newman from his grave, separating him from Ambrose. British and American gay lobbies condemned the move as homophobic on the part of the Vatican. Ironically, thing, save bits of cloth and brass, were found, a symbolic new twist in the story of Newman's complex legacy. John Cornwell investigates the process of Newman's elevation to sainthood to present a highly original and controversial new portrait of the great man's life and genius for a new generation of religious and n-religious readers alike.
John Cornwell is a journalist and author who worked for many years on The Observer. He is known for various books on The Papacy, most notably Hitler's Pope and A Thief in the Night. More recently he has been concerned with the relationship between science and the humanities and is now Director of The Science and Humanities Project at Jesus College, Cambridge.