Hijacking or setting him free, Benedict loves Newman

Pope Benedict XVI leads Mass and the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman at Cofton Park in Birmingham, England, Sept. 19. (CNS/Reuters)

London -- In the final act of his four-day trip to the United Kingdom, Benedict XVI traveled today to Birmingham to formally beatify the great English theologian and apologist Cardinal John Henry Newman, praising him as an apostle of “the vital place of revealed religion in civilized society.”

While Benedict's enthusiasm for Newman was obvious, with whom the pope shares a passion for the life of the mind, critics charged that the pontiff has tamed Newman, obscuring his critique of papal authority and his openness to change.

A crowd estimated at 65,000 braved cold and rainy weather to greet Benedict XVI in Birmingham’s Cofton Park, some arriving as early as 3:00 am when the gates to the park opened.

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