GK Chesterton 'breaks mould of conventional holiness,' says Cause investigator
The priest investigating whether G K Chesterton’s Cause should be opened has hailed the writer as “potentially a huge model” for the Church who “breaks the mould of conventional holiness”.
Canon John Udris said Chesterton, a married layman who “liked his beer and Burgundy”, was not conventionally devout and could show Catholics “you don’t have to say your rosary every five minutes to be holy”.
Instead, Fr Udris suggested, Chesterton’s holiness could be found in his humour, his charity and his humility. His defence of the faith in particular, Fr Udris said, was a model for Catholics.
“People he would have fierce public debates with felt respected by him, loved by him, even if they didn’t agree with him,” he said, citing his exchanges with atheist opponents H G Wells and George Bernard Shaw.
Fr Udris was appointed by Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton last September to investigate the possibility of opening Chesterton’s Cause.
The appointment came after it emerged that Pope Francis had been a member of the Chesterton Society in Argentina and had approved a prayer for his beatification.
Fr Udris, now spiritual director at St Mary’s seminary in Oscott, Birmingham, used to be parish priest at Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, where Chesterton died in 1936.
He said he expected to submit a dossier to Bishop Peter Doyle after a year or more of investigation. He said it would not be up to him to recommend whether to open the Cause, but added that “it will probably be obvious where I stand”.