Wednesday, January 06, 2016

2016 canonization outlook



#BlessedRomero #MartyrOfMercy
For eight years between 2006 and 2015, this blog offered an annual “beatification outlook” for Archbishop Romero for each particular year but, after he was beatified in May of last year, this year I offer the very first canonization outlook, trying to assess the likelihood that the “Blessed Romero” will become “Saint Romero” this year.  I have to say that despite a lot of interest and the seeds already in the field, the chances that they will blossom this year seem low.  On the positive side, if I was looking at the next two years, I would say that the chances of a canonization in that framework are pretty high.

[See also: Top stories of the beatification year]
Let’s look at the reasons why.  The primary reason has to do with the way that the Salvadoran Church wants to canonize Romero.  They want to have the canonization ceremony in El Salvador, so that many Salvadorans can attend.  El Salvador is a poor country, and if the canonization ceremony is in the Vatican, it is unlikely that many Salvadorans would be able to attend, and certainly not the poorest ones whom Romero defended.  Additionally, the Salvadoran Church wants Pope Francis to lead the ceremony, just as he would if it happened in Rome.  Accordingly, the timing has to work for the Pope to make a trip to El Salvador.  Finally, the Salvadoran Church wants the Romero canonization to coincide—in the same ceremony—with the beatification of Fr. Rutilio Grande. Accordingly, the Church would need to coordinate checking off all the requirements of both causes simultaneously and getting to the finish line at the same time, and this can be tricky.  Herein lies most of the explanation why it will likely not happen this year: there needs to be coordination and slack left in the process to allow both causes to catch up with one another in case one falls behind the other.
But there are other reasons, too.  The second reason the Romero canonization-Grande beatification probably won’t happen in 2016 is that there is a feeling, apparently shared by Pope Francis, that the time may not be ripe for the grace of such an event, given the deplorable gang violence facing Salvadoran society and perhaps also given a developing sex abuse crisis facing the Salvadoran Church.  In a speech to Salvadoran bishops and lay persons last fall, Pope Francis stated that he would like to see the Church take the gift it already has received through Romero’s beatification and use it to generate goodwill and bring about the transformation of El Salvador. Perhaps it makes sense to allow some time for that to happen.
Finally, a third reason the canonization and beatification will probably not happen this year is the recency of the Romero beatification, a huge Latin American event in San Salvador, which cost a lot of money to organize, and took a lot of work and behind-the-scenes effort to organize.  It may simply be too soon to do it all over again, simply from an organizational perspective.
All this is not to say that we cannot make significant progress this year.  Along those lines, I would not be surprised to see the martyrdom of Fr. Grande receive Vatican approval sometime this year, and three miracles attributed to Romero have already been forwarded to the Vatican—one of those could be approved this year.  But I believe that any ceremony would probably take place next year—the 100th anniversary of Romero’s birth.
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