JUBILEE YEAR for the CENTENNIAL of BLESSED ROMERO, 2016 — 2017
|Montini and Romero, bound for the altars.|
A year ago, I went out on a limb to predict that, although Archbishop Romero would not be canonized this year, there would be a 2017 announcement. Obviously, that did not happen, but my mistake related to the intentions for the announcement and not to the progress of the cause, which has progressed as I anticipated. Therefore, I update my prediction by estimating that we will have a canonization announcement before the anniversary of Romero's martyrdom (March 24), and that the ceremony will be held during the sixth year of Franciscus Papam (i.e., between March 13, 2018 and the same date in 2019).
[See also: Top 10 Romero news 2017.]
[See also: Top 10 Romero news 2017.]
If so, the canonization would occur while this pontificate is in full bloom. It was similarly during his sixth year that Benedict XV (pope between 1914 and 1922) canonized “the Maid of Orleans” (Joan of Arc), and many other popes have made their most memorable canonizations well into their papacy. For example, Pius XI (pope 1922-1939) canonized Bernadette Soubirous, Saint Thomas More, Don Bosco and Therese of Lisieux, during his second decade on the throne of Saint Peter. Saint John Paul II (1978-2005) canonized Maximilian Kolbe in the fourth year of his papacy, but the canonizations of Edith Stein, Padre Pio, Juan Diego and Josemaria Escriva had to wait. Pope Francis (2013-to date) has already canonized prominent saints such as John Paul II, John XXIII, Junipero Serra and Mother Teresa, but he still needs a saint who represents the grand values of his pontificate.
All this will change in 2018, when Francis will have the opportunity to canonize both Romero and Paul VI, his favorite pope. We can entertain the daring fantasy of Montini and Romero being canonized together! In fact, Romero and Montini will be the first saints to be beatified and also canonized by Francis. How awesome it would be if the Pope of the Second Vatican Council were canonized in the same ceremony as his seminary student, Romero, the Martyr of the Council, who quoted Paul VI more than any other authority to justify his ministry. The encyclical that Romero cited the most was «Evangelii Nuntiandi»—the same that Francis has called “to my mind the greatest pastoral document that has ever been written to this day.” It was also Pontiff Paul who unhesitantly supported Romero when he debuted his preferential option for the poor.
For this reason, it is possible to project that 2018 will be the year of Pope Francis’ defining canonizations, and that the canonization of Archbishop Romero will be principal among them. In fact, Pope Francis, along with the other popes mentioned above, is already among those who have had the most impact on canonization. Previously, he has reformed the system for financing causes (imposing limits), has promulgated new rules for miracles (making them stricter), and has created a new path to the sainthood (broadening the concept of giving one’s life for the faith).
The importance will be reinforced by other factors in the life of the Church. First of all, 2018 will mark 50 years since the conference of the Latin American bishops in Medellin, Colombia (presided over by Paul VI himself), which defined the “preferential option for the poor.” Romero put the teachings of Medellin at the center of his ministry and it is impossible to think of a larger proponent of Medellin than Romero in the entire continent. The possibility that Francis will issue a document on the doctrine of the Just War, or that he will make some important pronouncement on nuclear weapons (which we can see a hint of in his New Year’s Eve message publishing a photo of the consequences of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima). Finally, 2018 will be important for its emphasis on youth vocations and the role of the family, due to important gatherings devoted to these issues, for which Romero can become an important saint (the postulator of the Romero cause has been president of the Vatican dicastery on the family and has called Romero a saint for the family).
Undoubtedly, canonizations do not depend on recurring motifs for their reason for being, and I do not mean to suggest that the canonization of Archbishop Romero will need the coincidences related here to become a reality. The canonization of Archbishop Romero will fall by its own weight, but these factors will situate it in its proper place in the history of this pontificate and of the Church. A canonization that may be announced in the first quarter of the year, and is likely to arrive in the following twelve months.