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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Saints News for June and July

Stop the insanity!

File this under, “When will you people understand what canonization is all about?!?!?!” A group is trying to stop the canonization of Bl. John Paul II until it has been conclusively, irrefutably, infallibly declared that he had absolutely nothing to do with the cover-ups in the priestly abuse scandal.

Well, guess what: It cannot be done, at least not to the extent it would satisfy conspiracy theorists. What can be done and what has been done is to satisfy beyond a reasonable doubt that His Holiness was not complicit in any cover-up.

The larger point here, however, is that these people are not judging the process of declaring someone a saint in the proper context. Being a saint does not equal one being able to see with the omniscient, omnipotent mind of God. It does not make you immaculately sinless, wise beyond all human understanding, or anything like it. It means you are holy. Period. Bottom line. Today, we would consider St. Noel Charbanel, one of the North American martyrs a racist because of his feelings toward the Indians he not only served but for whom he died. St. Fiacre, who I write about in “Saint *Who*? was a male chauvinist. Bl. Mother Teresa of Kolkata said some things that give great pause to orthodox-minded Catholics. Ven. Fulton Sheen committed some academic indiscretions when a young college student. St. Thomas Aquinas was wrong about abortion. Are we any less convinced of these people’s holiness or their worthiness to be declared “saint” as a result of knowing this? 

Prediction: Pope Francis and the Vatican will wisely ignore this “demand.”

Will Work Canonization Fund for Money

We’ve often discussed how expensive it is to mount a beatification cause. It takes a huge amount of money because you often have to have a staff, you have travel and other related expenses, you have to have the volumes of evidence published in book form, and so much else.

Well, as a great example of this, Our Lady of Victory Basilica is trying to raise $250,000 to fund Ven. Monsignor Nelson Baker’s beatification cause. “The Padre of the Poor”‘s cause upwards of $45,000 per year, and in the next year, some of that money will go toward paying doctor honorariums for studying a potential miracle they have for Msgr. Baker.If people want to donate they can call Our Lady of Victory in Buffalo, NY, or they can go to

St. Josemaria Escriva to soon have company

On July 5, Pope Francis met with the Angelo Cardinal Amato, secretary of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, and approved several beatification and canonization causes. The most famous news item to come out of this meeting was His Holiness’ approval of a miracle attributed to Bl. John Paul II and his declaring motu proprio Bl. John XXIII’s having met the criteria for sainthood.

However, the Holy Father also declared valid a miracle for Ven. Alvaro delPortillo, who succeeded St. Josemaria Escriva as prelate of Opus Dei. Ven. Alvaro used to drive St. Josemaria crazy, the saint said, because he never indicated a personal preference for anything. “Do you want it hot or cold?” “It doesn’t matter.” “Would you like it hard or soft?” “Whatever is best for you.” He really took to heart St. Teresa of Avila’s admonition that we shouldn’t get wrapped up in pampering ourselves with our own petty little personal preferences. We all like things to be the way that we like them. Inherently, there is nothing wrong with that. But St. Teresa said that becoming insistent on our preferences, on “pampering” ourselves, leads to a loss of mortification and thus increases the likelihood that we will sin. Again, Venerable soon to be Blessed Alvaro really seemed to take that lesson to heart, and now he’s getting beatified. Food for thought, eh?

More Congregation news

In addition to the aforementioned miracles, he also approved one for Ven. Esperanza de Jesus, foundreds of the Spanish religious order, the Congregation of the Handmaids of Merciful Love and its brother order, the Sons of Merciful Love. She died in 1983, so her cause is moving relatively swiftly. Francis then declared a bunch of Spaniards killed in their nation’s 1936-39 Civil War as martyrs, meaning they automatically make the grade for beatification. Finally, he declared five Servants of God as Venerables, which is the second step in the canonization process.

At his meeting with Cardinal Amato in June, Pope Francis approved the designation of “martyr” for 92 Spaniards killed during the civil war.

He also approved decrees of “heroic virtue”for four Servants of God, meaning they will now be called “Venerable.”

Vietnamese Cardinal sees beatificaton cause move forward

The conclusion of the diocesan investigatory phase of a Vietnamese Cardinal’s beatification cause took place in a celebratory Mass on July 4 at the Cathedral of St. John Lateran in Rome.

Bl. Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan was incarcerated by the Vietnamese communists precisely a week after the fall of Saigon in 1975. His crime? The Vatican had just named him co-adjutor bishop of Saigon -- now Ho Chi Minh City, which had been the capital of South Vietnam. For this supposed offense, he spent 13 years in a communist prison camp, much of it in solitary confinement. He managed to persuade a guard to get him an old calendar, one of those where you peel off each day’s date, and on the back of those small sheets of paper, he wrote the book, The Road to Hope. If anyone doubts this man was a saint, let them read that book. Speaking for myself, I felt I was in the man’s presence, that I wasn’t reading words on a page, but actually had the sensation of hearing the Servant of God speaking to me in intimate way, as if he was with me. From other people’s responses to this work, I know I am not alone in having had this reaction.

Following his release from prison, the Vietnamese government exiled him to Rome, where he spent the rest of his life serving as President for the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. He was a lion of a man, and until the day he died, the pectoral cross he wore as his right as a bishop was made from electrical wire and wood he had scrounged during his days in prison. His cause now moves to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which will determine if he lived a life of heroic virtue.

For many of us, the outcome of this inquiry is not in doubt.

Pamplona archbishop puts a wife’s beatification cause alongside her husband’s

In 1998, the archdiocese of Pamplona, Spain, opened the beatification cause of layman Eduardo Ortíz de Landázuri. Now as of June 14, Ortiz’s wife Laura Busca also has a beatification cause going forward.

Ortiz was a prominent doctor and university professor at Pamplona’s University of Navarra Hospital. His own move toward holiness began on the night before his father’s execution by the communists during Spain’s civil war.

Just prior to the war, he had met his future wife in medical school when both were students at Madrid’s King’s Hospital, where she was a pharmacological student. Because of the war, they had to postpone marrying until 1941. After this, however, they had seven children, and often played host to St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei.

Laura’s life was known for her exemplary self-sacrifice, not only in the love she gave family and friends but with the incredible acceptance she gave to the suffering she endured from a debilitating back illness. She died in 2000. She is the twelth member of Opus Dei whose cause for beatification is going forward.

“Righteous Gentile” beatified

On Saturday, June 16, Odoardo Focherini was beatified in Carpi, Italy, making him the first person designated as a “righteous gentile” by Israel for his work to save Jews during World War II to receive this distinction.

A happily married father of seven, Focherini, reported the Jerusalem Post, built “... a clandestine network, producing false documents and escorting more than a hundred Jewish refugees across the Italian border into Switzerland, when the archbishop of Genoa, Cardinal Pietro Boetta, asked the editor-in-chief of L’Avvenire d’Italia, Raimondo Manzini, to help some Polish Jews to escape from Genoa.

“On March 11, 1944, after delivering his last false documents to Enrico Donati, a Jewish refugee in the Hospital of Carpi, Focherini was arrested by Italian Fascists and submitted to interrogation regarding a letter in which he wrote that he was helping Jews “not for profit, but out of pure Christian charity.”“ His efforts saved more than 100 lives.

The fascists deported him to Italy, where the Nazis incarcerated him at the Flossenburg concentration camp. While working outside the camp, he sustained a leg injury, which led to his contracting the blood poisoning that killed him on December 27, 1944, at age 37. When asked why he had worked so hard to save the Jews, he answered, “If you had seen, as I have seen in this prison, how Jews are treated here, your only regrets would be not to have saved more of them.”

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