Which is more important? Entering heaven or entering the Roman Catholic Church? Reports are that when John Henry Newman is beatified, the date of his feast in their calendar will be the date of his conversion to Roman Catholicism, not the day of his death.
Catholic News Service says:
When Pope Benedict XVI beatifies Cardinal John Henry Newman in mid-September, he'll announce the new blessed's feast day as Oct. 9 -- not the date of his death, which is typical for feast days, but the date of Cardinal Newman's passage from Anglicanism into the Catholic Church.
The feast day is a small aspect of Cardinal Newman's beatification, but one with ecumenical overtones. How it came to be chosen is a lesson in the sometimes-labyrinthine ways of Vatican decision-making.
Pope Benedict will celebrate the beatification Mass in Birmingham, England, Sept. 19, the final day of his four-day visit to Great Britain.
Cardinal Newman, a 19th-century theologian and one of modern England's most respected spiritual figures, is revered by Anglicans and Catholics alike. In the run-up to the papal visit, leaders of both churches have emphasized that although Newman's faith journey led him to Catholicism, the beatification was not being viewed as an act of triumphalism by the Vatican.
In fact, Cardinal Newman is already honored as a saint on the Anglican calendar -- on Aug. 11, the day of his death....
...What the ecumenists had apparently not been told, however, was that the Vatican's liturgy experts had already designated Cardinal Newman's feast day as Oct. 9, the day of his conversion. Informed of this fact by reporters Sept. 12, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said he had no comment on the reasons for the choice of date.
Anglicans also had not been informed. The Rev. David Richardson, director of the Anglican Center in Rome and the archbishop of Canterbury's representative to the Vatican, said there was a chance that some people might view the Oct. 9 feast day as an ecumenical provocation, but that he didn't see it as a huge issue.
dotCommonweal blog says:
Anglican officials also didn’t know, but are making the best of it, much as they did after last fall’s unilateral initiative by Benedict to set up a parallel rite for conservative Anglicans to come into communion with Rome.
I suspect the pope’s strong remarks against sex abuse today and other issues will overshadow this one, but it’s worth noting, and perhaps telling.