As an investigation into the life of Catholic apologist G.K. Chesterton nears a close, admirers of the English writer voiced hope that his sainthood cause could soon be opened.
“Chesterton stands up as that saint who contradicts the world in terms of speaking out against a bad philosophy and bad thinking,” said Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society.
“Chesterton is someone who has really contradicted the age. He is in fact a maker of converts. There are hundreds of people who have come to the Catholic faith as a result of encountering G.K. Chesterton, and I’m certainly one of them.”
Ahlquist spoke to CNA on May 29, which would have been Chesterton’s 144th birthday.
An investigation into the cause for Chesterton, conducted by Canon John Udris, is expected to be completed this summer.
It will then be sent to Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton, who will consult with the Vatican about whether to open the beatification cause.
Ahlquist said the decision will most likely be announced this fall.
Chesterton was born in 1874 and died in 1936 as a well-known author with many published novels, poems, plays, and philosophical and theological essays. As a result of his marriage to Frances, he developed a strong faith as a devout Anglican. In 1922, he converted to Catholicism.
His writing is known for its wit and dedication to the truth. Among his numerous works, he is the author of the Father Brown mystery series and the Christian apologetic book Orthodoxy.
Ahlquist said there is much evidence for Chesterton’s beatification: “his heroic virtue, his goodness, and his humility.” However, he said the Englishman is most well known for defending faith and reason.
“He saw the attack on the family, on life itself, the attack on the faith, but also the attack on reason and the use of good, solid, rational thinking. He knew people were starting to lead with their moods and lead with their emotions.”
With the continued deterioration of reason in today’s world, Ahlquist suggested that the world needs a saint opposed to the culture. He quoted Chesterton’s saying on Thomas Aquinas: “Sometimes the age is converted by the saint who contradicts it the most.”
Personal devotion to Chesterton is growing, said Ahlquist, noting that his organization has distributed thousands of Chesterton prayer cards in 12 different languages throughout the world.
“We are hoping and praying that [Bishop Doyle] makes a positive [decision] and will be recommending to the Congregation for Saints that they officially open the cause.”
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