Father Rother returned to Oklahoma in 1981, but returned to Guatamala some months later: "after recognizing that his heart was with the people," as the Catholic News Agency (CNA) put it.
Then, on July 28, 1981, three men broke into the mission rectory and killed him.
Martyr? MaybeIs Father Stanley Rother a martyr? A saint? Those are good questions. I don't have answers, because Rome hasn't spoken on the matter yet.
I'm a Catholic, and we've got - what else? - rules about this sort of thing.
Father Rother certainly has a sort of cheering section:
"...The local archbishop expressed his conviction during the homily that the missionary is both a martyr and a saint...."Does that mean the archbishop is on one side, and Rome on another? No. It means that the local archbishop thinks that Father Rother is a martyr and a saint. Which wraps up the archdiocese-level work in the canonization process. Next step: Rome. The Holy See.
It's Just a Popularity Contest!Wrong.
I've written about saints before. Bottom line, a saint isn't recognized as a saint until he or she has been linked to two verified miracles. And yes, miracles happen.
I'll grant that the process of declaring someone to be a saint depends on at least a few people who are more-or-less at the grassroots level getting the ball rolling. But no amount of hoopla and publicity is going to change the process - apart from letting the folks at the Holy See know that there's a lot of hoopla and publicity about Joe Doaks, or whoever is being hyped.
Back to Father Rother. The last two paragraphs of that CNA article are a pretty good summation:
"...Citing a 'spontaneous outpouring of prayer and devotion,' in Guatemala and in the U.S. since his death, Archbishop Beltran said, 'We believe and we are convinced that Father Rother was martyred and is now a saint in heaven.'Key points:
"To make beatification possible, the postulator must now prove to the Vatican congregation for saints that Fr. Rother was killed solely for his faith, that his death was violent and that he accepted such a death for the faith."
- There's been a "spontaneous outpouring of prayer and devotion" to Father Rother's memory
- Father Rother's death
- Was violent
- May have been only because of his faith
- Or, not
- May have been something he accepted for the faith
- Or, not
But the archbishop is, as far as I can tell, doing this by the book: he's decided that the evidence favors the idea that Father Rother is a saint and a martyr. Now the archbishop is passing the matter on to Rome for consideration.
I'm waiting to see what Rome says about Father Rother.
That's just how we work.
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Catholic News Agency (July 23, 2010)