There was wonderful news from Rome today, Wednesday March 7th.
Pope Francis has signed the decree paving the way for the canonization of Oscar Romero. The Vatican announced that Pope Francis had received the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, in private audience yesterday afternoon during which he authorized the Congregation to promulgate the decree recognizing the miracle associated with his cause for canonization. He similarly confirmed that Pope Paul VI and three others are to be declared saints.
Click HERE for a gallery of images of Pope Paul VI with Archbishop Romero.
The $64,000 dollar question is when and where the ceremony of sanctification will take place.
Until this week, it had seemed probable that Archbishop Romero would be canonized, alongside Pope Paul VI, at a Mass in St Peter’s Square in October 2018, during the Session of the Synod of Bishops on Young People. October 21st, which is World Mission Sunday, or October 28th, at the closure of the Synod, have seemed the most likely dates. Today, however, there has been the suggestion, published in the Italian press and copied in the world media, coming from a well-placed source, that the canonization would take place not in Rome but in Panama City, in January 2019, when Pope Francis travels there for World Youth Day.
Rome or Panama? October 2018 or January 2019?
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, for the past 20 years the Postulator for Romero's Cause, apparently told the Press that he was thrilled that Pope Francis had approved decrees clearing the way for both Oscar Romero and Paul VI to be made saints together during the Synod in October. Paul VI brought the Second Vatican Council to its conclusion and began a vigorous implementation of its decrees. Archbishop Romero had great affection for Paul VI who appointed him a bishop and from whom he received warm and explicit support when he was under attack in San Salvador. And Romero is described as the first martyr of Vatican II because he sought to implement the Council in its entirety. There seemed to be an eminently appropriate pairing of two great saints of the universal Church.
Meanwhile, El Salvador’s new cardinal, Gregorio Rosa Chavez is quoted in the Italian newspaper Avvenire, linked to the Italian Bishops’ Conference, suggesting that the canonization ceremony might be held in Central America - in fact in Panama - in line with a request made by the Salvadoran bishops in a letter to Pope Francis in January. What, one might ask, could be more appropriate than Romero, a Father of the Latin American Church, being canonized on Latin American soil? It would be an unusual, but not unknown, departure from normal practice - and we know that Pope Francis is no prisoner of precedent and might well judge this to be a fitting and symbolic affirmation of the Church on the periphery.
Of course it is possible that no final decision has yet been taken. The place and date of the canonization may not emerge until the formal announcement is made at the Consistory of Cardinals which the Pope is expected to summon in April or May.
So... one final tablespoon of patience is prescribed!
To read more about Romero's cause for canonization click HERE.
Image, right, is the halo which formed in the sky when Romero was declared Blessed in San Salvador, May 2015.