Since his election more than five years ago, Pope Benedict has presided over several canonisation ceremonies, but he always has delegated the task of presiding over beatifications to highlight the different importance of the two ceremonies.She goes on to quote the director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, Rev David Richardson --
The pope's decision to make an exception for Cardinal Newman demonstrates his personal admiration for the British churchman, an admiration he once said went back to his first semester of seminary theology studies in 1946.
"For us at that time, Newman's teaching on conscience became an important foundation" for theological reflection, the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said at a conference in 1990 marking the centenary of Cardinal Newman's death.
World War II had just ended, he said, and the German seminarians who had grown up under Adolf Hitler witnessed the "appalling devastation of humanity" that resulted from a totalitarian ruler who "negated the conscience of the individual."
While most of the world's totalitarian regimes have fallen, Pope Benedict often has warned that the individual conscience -- which must seek and try to act on truth -- is being threatened today by a culture of moral relativism, which asserts that nothing is always right or always wrong and almost anything is permissible.
Pope Benedict also often speaks of the essential interplay of faith and reason, a point Cardinal Newman emphasised. While embracing faith and knowing there were no scientific proofs for God's existence, the cardinal was convinced that believing in God was reasonable, an idea that frequently is challenged by modern British schools of philosophical atheism.
Cardinal Newman's commitment to the search for truth, his concern for fidelity to doctrine and his conviction that faith must be lived publicly all are key concepts in the teachings of Pope Benedict as well.
In his celebrations with Catholics in Great Britain and his addresses to British leaders, the pope is expected to emphasize his conviction that religious belief is not a hindrance to social progress and peaceful coexistence.
"This beatification is not simply a piece of triumphalism for a dead Roman Catholic, but it's actually an opportunity to embrace a wholeness -- his Anglicanism as well as his Catholicism".-- and Mgr Mark Langham of the Vatican's Council for Christian Unity:
"It is very clear that it was his study and his quest for the truth -- an absolutely integrated quest for the truth as an Anglican -- that moved him toward Catholicism ... [He] was always very clear that his role was not one of trying to poach people for the Roman Catholic Church."