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Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

On Wednesday, Sept. 3, I had the privilege of presenting the Positio on the Servant of God, Father Stanley Rother, to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome. The Positio is the distillation of all of the historical research and testimony that was painstakingly gathered to examine the course of Father Rother’s life and heroic death while serving as a parish priest at the Oklahoma mission in Guatemala. 

The Positio will be studied by the members of the Congregation, who then will recommend to the Holy Father whether Father Rother can be justly honored as a martyr for the Faith. This is a very important step in the process, which we hope will lead toward Father Rother’s beatification and canonization. I am including the text of my letter to Cardinal Amato that accompanied the Positio at its formal presentation. Please continue to remember this important intention in your prayers!


August 29, 2014

The Passion of St. John the Baptist
His Eminence
Angelo Cardinal Amato, S.D.B., Prefect
Congregation for the Causes of Saints
00120 Vatican City State

Your Eminence,

Praised be Jesus Christ! 

It is my privilege to submit to Your Eminence and to the distinguished members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints this Positio concerning the Servant of God, Father Stanley Francis Rother, a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City (USA) who in the manner of the Good Shepherd laid down his life for the Gospel and for his parishioners while serving the parish of Santiago Atitlan in the Diocese of Solola-Chimaltenango (Guatemala) on July 28, 1981. We firmly believe that Father Rother died as a martyr for the faith and submit his cause to your judgment in the hope that the Church will recognize the nature of his heroic death and hold him up as a martyr for the glory of God and for the benefit of the universal Church.

In 1981 I received news of the heroic death of Father Rother while still a seminarian at his alma mater, Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland (USA).  From that time until this very day, the witness of his life and death has been a source of encouragement and inspiration to me as a seminarian, priest and now as a bishop.  I consider it a great gift of Divine Providence to be entrusted with overseeing the continuation of the process of his cause for beatification and canonization begun by my predecessor, Archbishop Eusebius J. Beltran.

At this time in the history the Catholic Church in the United States we need priestly models of sanctity and witnesses to heroic pastoral charity.   In the wake of the recent clergy abuse scandal which has caused such devastation in Church and in society the recognition of this generous parish priest’s simple manner of life and the heroic manner of his death would be a tremendous inspiration to priests and faithful alike in the United States and around the world.

Here in Oklahoma where Catholics are a very small minority, comprising only 4-6% of the population, the impact of Father Rother’s declaration of martyrdom, beatification and ultimate canonization would be a powerfully effective spiritual impetus in our efforts in the New Evangelization. 

Likewise in Guatemala, where the Church has suffered bitterly during recent decades in the midst of societal strife, a favorable judgment of martyrdom and subsequent decree of beatification for Father Rother would affirm so many suffering members of the faithful who already esteem Father Rother (Padre Aplas) as their martyr and saint.

I humbly ask that you look favorably upon our petition for the glory of God and the good of the universal Church.  Entrusting this cause to your judgment and to the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Star of the New Evangelization, I remain

Fraternally yours in Christ,

The Most Reverend Paul S. Coakley
Archbishop of Oklahoma City