Will G. K. Chesterton Join Pope John Paul II as Newest Saints?
Christians and Jews split over effort to canonize writer.
CANTERBURY, England – As Pope Francis reveals more details about the final steps to sainthood for Pope John Paul II, Christians and Jews are mounting campaigns for and against another high-profile name: British writer G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), one of the world's best-known Catholic converts.
Roman Catholic Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton, where Chesterton lived and worked, has ordered an examination of Chesterton's life—the first step in what is likely to be a long and unpredictable process toward canonization.
Chesterton's many admirers delighted in the news.
"There is a growing devotion to this life-changing writer," said Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society, who has pushed the church to explore a formal declaration of sainthood for a man he called "a maker of converts."
Ahlquist said Chesterton, whose appeal crosses racial, gender, age and national boundaries, influenced two Americans who are currently up for sainthood—Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen and Dorothy Day. In the U.S., Chesterton is frequently cited by conservative Christians of all denominations.
Ahlquist also thinks Chesterton's cause for canonization may get a boost from Pope Francis, who as archbishop of Buenos Aires encouraged aspirations for Chesterton's cause by allowing a private prayer to be said for his canonization.
Chesterton converted to Catholicism from Anglicanism in the 1920s. Known for his wit and ability to find truth in apparent paradox, Chesterton wrote literary essays, novels, poetry and plays. His short stories include the Father Brown mystery series.
"He's one of my favorite writers," wrote Melanie McDonagh in The Spectator …