JUBILEE YEAR for the CENTENNIAL of BLESSED ROMERO, 2016 — 2017
Scarcely days from the consistory in which the place and date of the canonization of Archbishop Oscar Romero and several other saints will be established, a hint about the importance of the event came when Pope Francis summoned Salvadoran Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez for a private audience in the Pope’s library this Monday morning, with five days to go before the Saturday consistory. In statements to Salvadoran Catholic radio, Rosa Chavez revealed that the Pope made him privy to some of the facts the Vatican will announce on Saturday, “but the matter is off-limits” and, as was to be expected, the cardinal invoked confidentiality to avoid specifics about what was said.
However, in his statements to the archdiocesan radio, Rosa Chavez listed some of the items discussed with the Pope during their twenty plus minute meeting, in which the topics covered included: (1) Romero, (2) the consistory, ( 3) the canonization, (4) El Salvador, and (5) even the late Cardinal Eduardo Pironio, an Argentine clergyman who was a friend of Romero and a mentor of Pope Francis. Rosa Chavez also remarked that he felt that Romero was present during the meeting: “There were three of us in the audience,” said the prelate (that is, the Pope, the cardinal and Romero). Rosa Chavez presented the Pope with several images of Romero, including an icon that came with a stand. The Pope himself placed the image on the stand, says Rosa Chavez, “and the image remained before him all the time of our meeting, which led me to say there are three of us here—Archbishop Romero is also present.”
On the details of the canonization, Rosa Chavez kept his guard up, saying: “You will understand that I cannot reveal the information the Pope gave me; these things are part of what is confidential.” The cardinal explained that “it would be a very irresponsible thing on my part to tell everything as if it were not a private matter”. The new cardinal divulged a single detail revealed by the Pontiff: that the list of saints to be canonized could include one or more saints in addition to the six revealed to be up for consideration during the consistory. Later in his statements, recorded in Rome on Monday night, Rosa Chavez revisited the details of the canonization: “We discussed this, but the matter is off-limits,” he said. Then he admonished that, “one cannot get ahead of the Holy Father.”
Among the details that he did disclose, one very telling one is that it was the Pope who cited him to the meeting in Rome the week that leads to the consistory. Rosa Chavez said he had requested an audience weeks ago to talk generally about what the Pope expects of him as a cardinal. The Salvadoran greeted the Pope when Francis visited the parish assigned to him in Rome, last weekend. After that, Rosa Chavez traveled to Germany, and was scheduled to return to El Salvador on Monday and then fly back to Rome on Thursday for the consistory on Saturday. However, while in Germany, he was contacted by the nunciature on Saturday afternoon with the instruction that he should return to Rome on Sunday because the Holy Father was going to receive him on Monday morning.