Efforts to attain sainthood for a martyred Oklahoma priest are progressing at the Vatican, Oklahoma City's Roman Catholic archbishop said after a recent trip to Rome.
The Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, said he learned during his recent trip to Rome that the canonization process for the late Stanley Rother have moved to another level.
Rother, 46, was killed July 28, 1981, by unknown assailants in Guatemala. An Okarche native, he was serving as pastor of the Santiago Atitlan parish in Guatemala at the time of his death.
The Oklahoma City Archdiocese, under the leadership of then-Archbishop Eusebius Beltran, began formal canonization proceedings on Rother's behalf in 2007. The archdiocese's canonization efforts included the formation of a tribunal that conducted an investigation into Rother's life, gathering documents about the priest, from his birth to his death, including all of his writings and all of the material written about him.
In 2010, the archdiocese formally closed the diocesan portion of the canonization process, sending about 13,000 pages of the tribunal's documentation to Rome. At that time, the Rev. Albert Bruecken, a Benedictine priest from Conception Seminary in Conception, Mo., who helped lead the archdiocesan tribunal, said the canonization process then entered what is called the Roman phase.
Archbishop Coakley said he met with Cardinal Angelo Amato during his recent ad limina trip to Rome. During the ad limina visit, American bishops visit departments of the Vatican, celebrate Mass and meet personally with the pope to discuss issues in their dioceses.
First official response
Coakley said Amato, who is prefect of the Congregation for Causes of Saints, told him the archdiocese's documentation concerning Rother has been substantiated and that it followed canon law requirements.
Coakley said Amato's statements are the first official response from Rome concerning the Rother canonization efforts.
“It was very good news that everything was in good order,” Coakley said. “A lot of effort, a lot of prayer has gone into preparing the case. They were letting the archdiocese know it's a job well done, and now the Vatican takes over at this point.”
He said an individual in Rome will now go through all of the presented material and place the relevant information in a single volume that clearly shows Rother died a martyr for his Christian faith.
Coakley said this process likely will take between one and two years. He said the single volume of information about Rother will then be presented to the pope, who will decide if the slain priest's cause for canonization should be taken to the next level: be
Coakley said he was pleased to see Rother's canonization process continue smoothly.
“In light of some of the disturbing news in the last 10 years or so with the priest sex abuse scandal in the American church, it's very important that we lift up truly heroic and saintly priests to remind people that the vast majority of priests are good, holy and faithful servants of the Lord,” he said.
The following is information regarding the steps to sainthood, from sources including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic News Service and www.american
Five years must pass from the time of a candidate's death.
The bishop of the diocese in which the candidate died must begin the investigation-examination process, starting the canonization process.
A church commission reviews the candidate's life, works and miracles.
The pope proclaims candidate is “venerable,” a role model of Roman Catholic virtues.
Church recognizes candidate as “blessed,” indicating he or she lived a life of heroic virtue.
At least one authenticated miracle attributed to the candidate's intercession is required. (If the commission judges the candidate was killed out of hatred for the faith, no miracle is required for beatification.)
Another authenticated miracle is attributed to the candidate.
Candidate is given the title “saint,” indicating he or she is a model for living a spiritual life.