The Deacon's Bench

The Massachusetts deacon whose miraculous healing is clearing the way for Cardinal Newman’s beatification met with Tony Blair’s wife Cherie last month — and now he wishes he hadn’t:

cherie_blair_1017.jpgCherie Blair has received a humiliating snub from a leading Roman Catholic in the U.S.

Jack Sullivan – the man the Church of Rome believes was healed after praying to Cardinal John Henry Newman – dropped in on Mrs Blair during a visit to England last month.

But he is now trying to erase references to their meeting because he says he was ‘shocked and horrified’ to discover that Mrs Blair – although a Catholic – opposes the Vatican’s teachings on sexual morality and had publicly supported pro-choice groups in the debate over abortion.

Mr Sullivan, whose sudden recovery from a severe back condition has put Victorian convert Cardinal Newman just one step away from sainthood, said he was unaware of her opinions when driven to the Blairs’ £5.75million Grade I-listed country pile near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

The 71-year-old Catholic deacon from Marshfield, Massachusetts, claims he would not have agreed to meet her if he had known of them in advance.

He has publicly repudiated his written reflections of his visit in which he spoke of how he and his wife Carol were ‘most impressed with our meeting with Cherie Blair’.

He has also asked at least two newspapers and a range of other media outlets to delete references to the meeting.

He says he is anxious that Mrs Blair does not hijack the figure of Cardinal Newman to promote her own brand of what he sees as pick-and-mix Catholicism.

Mr Sullivan’s latest views were posted on the website of the Cause for the Canonisation of John Henry Newman, which is run by the Birmingham Oratory, the church founded by the cardinal in the 19th century.

‘Unfortunately, Jack had not been made aware of Mrs Blair’s public opposition to the teaching of the Church,’ said a spokesman. ‘He undertook the visit in good faith, believing Mrs Blair to be simply a prominent Catholic.

‘As soon as he was made aware of Mrs Blair’s record of public dissent from the Church’s teaching, Jack requested that all reference to meeting her be removed from the published recollections of his visit.’

There’s more here.

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