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.”