VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will declare Blesseds
Oscar Romero, Paul VI and four others saints Oct. 14 at the Vatican during the
meeting of the world Synod of Bishops, an institution Blessed Paul revived.
The date was announced May 19 during an "ordinary
public consistory," a meeting of the pope, cardinals and promoters of
sainthood causes that formally ends the sainthood process.
During the consistory, Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the
Congregation for Saints' Causes, formally petitioned the pope "to enroll
in due course among the saints" six candidates for canonization "for
the glory of God and the good of the whole church."
Each of the candidates, the cardinal told the pope, gave
"a convinced and coherent witness to the Lord Jesus. Their example
continues to enlighten the church and the world in accordance with the
perspective of mercy that your Holiness never ceases to indicate and
Briefly giving a biographical sketch of the
candidates, Cardinal Amato said that during El Salvador's civil war, Archbishop
Romero, "outraged at seeing the violence against the weak and the killing
of priests and catechists, felt the need to assume an attitude of fortitude. On
March 24, 1980, he was killed while celebrating the Mass."
Reviewing the facts of Blessed Paul's life, Cardinal Amato
highlighted how, as a high-level official in the Vatican Secretariat of State
during World War II, the future pope "organized charitable assistance and
hospitality for those persecuted by Nazism and Fascism, particularly the
Pope Francis then certified that he had solicited the
opinion of the cardinals, who agreed that "these same blesseds should be
proposed to the whole church as examples of Christian life and holiness."
Blessed Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador, was
assassinated one day after calling on the government to end its violation of
the human rights of El Salvador's people.
While Catholics inside and outside El Salvador recognized
him as a martyr immediately, his sainthood cause was stalled for years as some
church leaders debated whether he was killed for his faith or for his politics.
As Pope Francis told a group of Salvadoran pilgrims in 2015,
even after his death Blessed Romero "was defamed, slandered, his memory
tarnished, and his martyrdom continued, including by his brothers in the
priesthood and in the episcopate."
In February 2015 Pope Francis signed the formal decree
recognizing Blessed Romero's martyrdom; the Salvadoran archbishop was beatified
three months later in San Salvador.
The Salvadoran bishops' conference and many Salvadorans had
hoped Pope Francis would preside over the canonization in San Salvador,
particularly because of the difficulty and expense of traveling to Rome.
Others, however, argued that holding the ceremony at the Vatican makes it clear
that Blessed Romero is a saint for the entire church, not just for the church
in El Salvador.
Salvadoran Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez told TV2000, the
Italian bishops' television station, that he hoped Pope Francis would make a
brief trip to San Salvador in January to pray at the tomb of by-then St. Oscar
Romero. The pope will be in Central America for World Youth Day in Panama.
Blessed Paul VI, who was born Giovanni Battista Montini, was
pope from 1963 to 1978. He presided over the final sessions of the Second
Vatican Council and its initial implementation. He also wrote "Humanae
Vitae," a 1968 encyclical on married love, the 1975 apostolic exhortation
"Evangelii Nuntiandi" on evangelization and "Populorum Progressio,"
a 1967 encyclical on social development and the economy.
Speaking in 2013 to a group of pilgrims from Brescia, Italy,
Pope Paul's home diocese, Pope Francis said his predecessor had
"experienced to the full the church's travail after the Second Vatican
Council: the lights, the hopes, the tensions. He loved the church and expended
himself for her, holding nothing back."
And, beatifying Pope Paul in 2014, Pope Francis noted that
even in the face of "a secularized and hostile society," Pope Paul "could
hold fast, with farsightedness and wisdom -- and at times alone -- to the helm
of the barque of Peter while never losing his joy and his trust in the
Pope Francis referred to him as "this great pope, this
courageous Christian, this tireless apostle," who demonstrated a "humble
and prophetic witness of love for Christ and his church."
The other men and women to be canonized include: Father
Francesco Spinelli of Italy, founder of the Sisters Adorers of the Blessed
Sacrament; Father Vincenzo Romano, who worked with the poor of Naples, Italy,
until his death in 1831; Mother Catherine Kasper, the German founder of the
religious congregation, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ; and Nazaria Ignacia
March Mesa, the Spanish founder of the Congregation of the Missionary Crusaders
of the Church.