U.S. bishops express strong support for proposal to name Newman a doctor of the Church

Bishop Robert Barron of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, was one of several U.S. bishops who spoke passionately in support this week of a proposal to name the 19th-century English cardinal St. John Henry Newman a “doctor of the Church.” 

The U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine asked the country’s body of bishops Nov. 15, during their annual fall meeting in Baltimore, if they support a petition brought by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales asking the Vatican to name Newman a doctor of the Church. 

The U.S. bishops voted overwhelmingly — with just two bishops voting no — to send a letter to Pope Francis expressing their support for the U.K. bishops’ proposal. Newman, born in 1801, was famously a convert to the Catholic faith from Anglicanism and faced backlash and prejudice from his community and his family. 

“If that happens, that Newman is named a doctor, we should really take advantage of that, study his writings deeply. I think it might help to heal some of the divisions in our Church,” Barron said, speaking to his brother bishops ahead of the vote.