ANOTHER STEP CLOSER

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

In a recent issue of the Sooner Catholic I shared a copy of the Aug. 29 letter I had submitted to Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, concerning the Servant of God, Father Stanley Rother.

I had presented my letter personally along with an extensive document called the Positio, which summarizes the facts and testimony concerning the life and death of Father Rother. In that letter, I formally petitioned the Congregation to consider the merits of Father Rother’s Cause for Beatification and Canonization, and render an affirmative judgment that he is worthy to be considered a martyr of the Church. To that petition I added my own opinion that he is indeed worthy of such a designation.

In the course of a very cordial meeting, Cardinal Amato described the next steps in the process of advancing the Cause of this heroic priest from Okarche, who laid down his life while serving his parish of Santiago Atitlan in Guatemala on July 28, 1981.

Though there are numerous Causes submitted to the Congregation each year, and ours would have to be considered as only one among many, I went away from our meeting confident in the merits, strength and timeliness of our petition. My sense from the meeting was that this is precisely the kind of witness that Pope Francis wishes to offer the Church as a stimulus for the New Evangelization and to summon all Christians to heroic lives of missionary discipleship.

Apparently, that confidence has been well placed. In his Sept. 11 letter, Cardinal Amato informed me that the Cause of the Servant of God, Father Stanley Francis Rother, will be submitted the Theological Commission of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints early in 2015. To be very honest, this is a far more rapid response than I would have dared to imagine even after such an encouraging meeting with the Prefect.

What this means is that the members of this commission will begin their study of the Cause in the next few months. After completing their thorough analysis, they will submit their own findings to the Cardinals and Archbishops who constitute the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

The members of the Congregation will conduct their own study, make their own comments and ultimately submit their recommendation to the Holy Father. Should the Holy Father determine that Father Rother died as a martyr, a decree would be issued to that effect, thus allowing for his subsequent beatification.

Beatification, the final stage prior to canonization, permits public veneration and declares that the life of the Blessed is worthy of imitation among the Christian faithful.

More than 30 years have passed since Father Rother’s death. Many have prayed and labored that his heroic life might one day be lifted up as a beacon of holiness and pastoral charity for others. Now there is good reason to hope that the Church may soon acknowledge Father Stanley Rother as one of her martyrs. I am eager to share this news with you in order to urge you to renew your prayer for his beatification and canonization. What a blessing this would be for the Church in Oklahoma and throughout America, North and South.