Monday, August 14, 2017



#BlessedRomero #Beatification
General Update:

This is the latest on Archbishop Romero’s canonization process as of Monday, August 14, 2017 on the eve of the centenary of his birth.  For information regarding the successful conclusion of the Roman phase of the canonization process for Archbishop Romero, please click here.  In statements related to Romero’s centennial in August 2017, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, postulator of the cause, expressed hope that Romero could be canonized in 2018, and Salvadorean Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez has made optimistic remarks in that regard. However, the Salvadoran Church has denied a report in which Rosa Chávez allegedly had stated in a social network that the pope had telephoned him to confirm an upcoming canonization.
On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, the Archdiocese of San Salvador closed the diocesan phase of an investigation into an alleged miracle by Blessed Oscar Romero, who was beatified in May 2015.  The Postulator of the Cause, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, told Catholic News Service on Thursday, March 23 that officials at the Congregation for Saints’ Causes had opened the documentation concerning the alleged miracle and would begin studying it March 24.

The miracle, if confirmed, would allow Romero to canonized, becoming the first Salvadoran saint.  The findings must be confirmed by the Vatican.  Experts maintain that the approval process normally takes six to eighteen months and Pope Francis has recently told Salvadoran bishops that he intends to let the process run its normal course and not accelerate it, leaving it an open question whether Romero can be canonized during this centennial year, as many would like.
The approval process takes place in Rome in the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and will come in four phases. 
  • First, the miracle must be approved by a 7-person commission of medical experts. 
  • Secondly, that finding must be ratified by a 6-person commission of theologians. 
  • Third, the finding must also be approved by the fourteen Cardinals and the bishops of the Congregation.
  • Fourth and finally, following all those approvals, the Congregation draws up a decree recognizing the miracle which is presented to Pope Francis for final approval.
Manuel Roberto Lopez Barrera, Ambassador of El Salvador to the Holy See, confirmed in an interview given at the headquarters of Vatican Radio on March 22, 2017 that for “the recognition of the miracle, there are four stages including a medical commission, a commission of theologians, cardinals and bishops and then the Pope, who will decide on the day of the canonization.”  As of Monday, August 14, 2017, there are no reports that any of these four approvals have occurred yet.

The Salvadoran bishops went to Rome for their “Ad Limina” visits with Pope Francis and the Roman Curia.  After the first, nearly three-hour meeting with the Pope on March 20, the Military Ordinary, Bishop Fabio Colindres said that the investigation of the miracle by the Vatican authorities “seems to be following a very good process, it is on track, [but] not yet concluded, expecting it to be in the best way.” The bishop said that “naturally, there are no dates for canonization nor a date for a possible visit of the Pope to El Salvador.” According to Bishop Colindres, the Pope smiled “with great affection and said ‘we will see, the time will come, I can not give hard dates now’.”  Similarly, the auxiliary bishop of San Salvador, then-Msgr. (now Card.) Gregorio Rosa Chavez, revealed that Francis told the prelates that “we must respect the rhythms of the Holy See” and that the cause for the canonization must follow its course without acceleration.

On Wednesday, March 22, 2015, the Salvadoran bishops visited the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and met with its Prefect, Cardinal Angelo Amato.  According to reports, the prefect assured them that the cause “is not in the freezer. According to the military bishop Fabio Colindres, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints “is inviting us to make Romero more and better known, and that he is and has been a great saint.”
Left to right: Card. Jose Gregorio Rosa Chavez, Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador; Msgr. Miguel Angel Moran Aquino, Bishop of Santa Ana; Msgr. Elias Samuel Bolanos Avelar, S.D.B., Bishop of Zacatecoluca; Msgr. Jose Luis Escobar Alas, Archbishop of San Salvador; Angelo Cardinal Amato, S.D.B., Prefecto of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints; Msgr. Fabio Reynaldo Colindres Abarca, Bishop of El Salvador, Military; Msgr. Luis Morao Andreazza, O.F.M., Bishop Emeritus of Chalatenango; Msgr. Jose Elias Rauda Gutierrez, O.F.M., Bishop of San Vicente; Msgr. Oswaldo Estefano Escobar Aguilar, O.C.D., Bishop of Chalatenango; Msgr. William Ernesto Iraheta Rivera, Bishop of Santiago de Maria; and Msgr. Constantino Barrera Morales, Bishop of Sonsonate.


Let me say that this “four-part decision” has some caveats. First, there are other parts. There will be a review of the validity of the San Salvador process; a «positio» or summation document of the miracle must be put together—we are simplifying all of that here. Those procedural steps can be quite significant.  For example, the validity review is a prerequisite to the other steps and must be obtained before the process can move forward.  In the canonization of Mother Teresa, obtaining the decree on the validity of the diocesan inquiry within three months allowed the Roman process to move forward at lightning speed; the rest of the process also lasted about three months.  (In the case of John Paul II, that same step took over one year.)

Most importantly: I do not want to imply that we are going to find out when each step is completed. We may not know until the four parts have been fulfilled. During the beatification, we did have notice of the individual moves, and I think that same level of information can be expected in this process.

If we learn of these approvals in real-time, they will probably come with a lapse of time in between each step: normally there will be four different dates. In the beatification we saw an exception, because the same day that the cardinals approved the martyrdom decree, they delivered it to the pope and he gave his approval on the same day as the cardinals (the theologians’ vote had been a month prior). That is unusual. There may be an “express” approval, but I would expect to see three or four approvals—unless they DO NOT tell us about the previous approvals and keep the news until everything is completed as indicated in the previous paragraph.

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