|Card. Amato and Msgr. Paglia.|
Plans for the beatification of Archbishop Oscar A. Romero, expected this year, took some definition after the Pope Francis “essentially ruled out travelling to El Salvador” and joked that “There will be a war between Monsignor Paglia and Cardinal Amato” over which of the two will beatify Archbishop Romero.
If we rule out the possibility that the pope will celebrate the beatification (Francis also spoke of a “beatification”—and not a “canonization” as some had speculated), this opens the door to the possibility that the ceremony will be much sooner than the September time frame contemplated when we thought it might be the pope who led the ceremony. Even without any verified facts, we can imagine three possibilities:
A. March 24th (the 35th anniversary of Archbishop Romero’s martyrdom)
B. August 15th (Archbishop Romero’s birthday / Feast of the Assumption)
C. Another Date
Without knowing more, it seems most logical to schedule the beatification of Archbishop Romero around one of the dates already celebrating his memory. Otherwise, there will be three Romero celebrations in El Salvador this year! In particular, it may make sense to schedule the beatification around the March anniversary of his martyrdom. The problem is that it does not leave much time to make preparations. But on the other hand, the 35th anniversary entails its own planning, which can be simply incorporated into what the beatification requires. For the anniversary, there will be a large Mass in San Salvador, processions, seminars, pilgrimages, etc. They don’t call it San Salvador’s “little Holy Week” for nuthin’. If March is not possible, August may make some sense also.
So far, there is no announcement. However, as John Allen noted: in his words, “Francis seemed to take for granted that [Romero’s] beatification will come soon.” We await official word, but those are the considerations.
Update: speaking at at Santa Clara University on January 20, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez, a close adviser to Pope Francis remarked, “you know that, God willing, Archbishop Romero will be beatified in the second part of the year” (emphasis added). For you tea-leaf readers.
On the subject of pilgrimages for the 35th anniversary, some organizations have already announced delegations to El Salvador for the celebrations. This blog will gather all the details. The following have been announced so far:
· SHARE Foundation, March 20-26 [Details]
· EcoViva, March 19-26 [Details]
· Cristosal Foundation, 17-25 March [Details]
· SOA Watch, March 20-29 [Details]
· Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America, March 19-30 [Details]
· South Bay Sanctuary Covenant (SBSC), March 20-29 [Details]
Finally: Who are Amato and Paglia?
Cardinal Angelo Amato is the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the highest authority in the Church for authorizing saints (after the Pope). Amato is Italian, but speaks Spanish and English. Pope Francis commented on him in Korea as “a good man, who is called Angel [Angelo].” In a speech to the congregation, Amato remembered as a highlight a beatification in the Ecuadorian Amazon in 2012, where the Indians of the area made him drink a “chicha” made by the tribal elders with saliva by chewing leaves. Amato reveled in relating that after taking a deep drink, he told the Indians: “Now I am one of thee!” On the other hand, when Amato was secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he had to sign the Notificatio against Jon Sobrino.
Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia is the postulator of Archbishop Romero’s Cause, assigned that task by John Paul II in 1996, and a tireless Romero champion for all these years. He is also Italian, but speaks Spanish and English as well. He has long been spiritual counselor to the Catholic movement Sant'Egidio, which is dedicated to working for peace. Paglia served for a time as a kind of special delegate of Pope Wojtyla to troubled areas. Since 2012, Paglia is also the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, one of the leading advisers to Pope Benedict XVI and now Francis.
Simply by virtue of his being a cardinal, the “war” would be won by Amato. (Amato is presiding all six other beatifications set so far this year.)