Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Still without confirmation, Romero canonization presumed to be in Rome in October

Consistory to select date: will be held on May 19.
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During a press conference on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, San Salvador Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas reported that the canonization of Blessed Oscar A. Romero will probably be in Rome, although he is still awaiting to be officially notified of the decision by Pope Francis. The comment reflects the ambiguity of an editorial in the diocesan weekly Orientación this past Sunday, which reads “We all want [the canonization of Romero] to be in El Salvador.” After presenting the arguments for canonizing Romero in El Salvador, it goes on to say “But if the canonization were in Rome it would also be something historic,” and summarizes the case for it to be in the Vatican. [See also: the arguments for the different scenarios.]
Archbishop Escobar’s comments echo his words in Washington, D.C. two weeks ago, when the Archbishop said that the canonization would “probably” be in Rome and “probably” at the end of October. Those comments came on the same day that Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga pointed to October 21 as the probable date. According to Catholic News Service, Salvadoran Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez “also said the Honduran cardinal was close to the pope and may know details” that could make his prediction accurate. Rodriguez Maradiaga presides over the council of cardinals that advises the Pope on in the government of the Church and the reform of the Roman Curia.
With this, two things are clear: (1) less than a month before the May 19 meeting to set the canonization date, no indisputable calendar slot has yet emerged for it, (2) but by the same token no reason has arisen to doubt the initial hypothesis that it would be in Rome in October, along with other canonizations set for this year. It remains to be seen whether a public consensus will be formed before the May 19 consistory, or whether we will simply have to wait until then to know for certain.
What we do know is that on Saturday, May 19, at 10 a.m., in the Hall of the Consistory in the third loggia of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis will meet with the cardinals he has summoned to Rome for that occasion. Technically, the consistory is part of the process of authorizing a cause: its purpose is not simply to set a date, but also to approve the canonization. However, since the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the Pope have already approved the miracle required for canonization, the vote in the consistory is a legal fiction in which the cardinals symbolically give their approval. These sessions only make news when something else happens in the course of the meeting, for example, when Pope Benedict announced his resignation during a consistory to approve three canonizations in February 2013.
A curious note about the consistory to select the date for the canonization of Archbishop Romero that has not been commented is that it is set to take place on Saturday, May 19, on the eve of the Solemnity of Pentecost. This is no coincidence: normally a date is chosen in which the cardinals will be in Rome, as is the case on Pentecost Sunday when a papal mass is celebrated in St. Peter’s Square. By coincidence, this means that the date of Romero's canonization will be announced the day before Pentecost Sunday, just as his beatification in May 2015 was on the Saturday before Pentecost, which led Archbishop Escobar to identify Romero with the Holy Spirit and cast his ascent to the altars as “a breath of the Spirit”. Now, it seems like the Spirit will be blowing again!
Canonization: could be in Rome in October.
Finally, the working date for Romero’s canonization, still without any official confirmation, is, on October 21, as mentioned, along with other saints that will likely include Pope Paul VI. If so, it will be the tenth canonization ceremony presided over by Pope Francis at St. Peter’s (he has celebrated three others during his trips outside of Italy), and the third canonization of one of his predecessors (after St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II). In this sense, Paul VI would be breaking the mold, because if he is canonized with Romero and/or others, it will be the first time that a pope is canonized with a saint who is not also a pope.
Speculating without any basis, I would say that most likely: (1) Pope Francis will canonize Archbishop Romero in Rome on October 21 along with Paul VI; (2) the date will be leaked/confirmed unofficially by early May; and (3) as a consolation prize the Pope could make a lightning visit to Romero’s Tomb when he goes to Panama in January (but this should not be announced until the last minute so as not to detract from WYD 2019 promotion).

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