Catholic World News News Feature
Cardinal Ruini foresees beatification of slain priest February 10, 2006
A cause for the beatification of Father Andrea Santoro, the Italian missionary slain in Turkey last Sunday, will be opened as soon as possible, Cardinal Camillo Ruini announced at the priest's funeral.
Cardinal Ruini, the vicar for the Rome diocese, presided at the funeral for the murdered priest, in the basilica of St. John Lateran on February 10. His homily was interrupted by hearty applause when he said that he expected the eventual beatification of Father Santoro.
"In the process of beatification and canonization that I hope will be opened, we must fully respect all the laws and schedules of the Church," the cardinal said. "But today, I am persuaded that all the elements of Christian martyrdom are present in the sacrifice of Father Andrea."
The process for beatification cannot be opened until five years after the candidate's death-- thus, for Father Santoro, not before February 2011. Although the Pope can make an exception to that rule, only two such exceptions have been granted: for the causes of Mother Teresa and of Pope John Paul II.
The prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints had been more cautious in his response to questions about the possible beatification of Father Santoro. In remarks to the Italian daily La Reppublica, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins said that he would wait to "really see how things turn out" before discussing the opening of a cause for beatification. He did note, however, that with the death of the Italian priest, "the Church is once again colored in red, the color of the blood of martyrs."
In his tribute to the slain priest, Cardinal Ruini said that Father Santoro's life demonstrated "the courage that martyrs have displayed on many occasions over the course of the centuries." He remarked that the Italian missionary, a priest of the Rome diocese, went to Turkey "to make Christ present in that land where, the Christian faith, in its first days, established deep, strong roots." He added that Father Santoro had firmly believed in the need for a sharing of spiritual gifts between the Eastern and Western Christian traditions, and in dialogue among the three great monotheistic faiths present in Turkey.
Cardinal Ruini indicated that he feels "disdain" for the reports-- which he characterized as "absurd and calumnious"-- that Father Santoro used illicit means to convert Turkish people to Christianity. He said that the Italian missionary had a "rigorous conscience," and scrupulously obeyed the laws of Turkey regarding religious activities-- without ever compromising in his defense of religious freedom, "the mother of all liberties."
The funeral for Father Santoro was attended by thousands of Italian faithful, including a heavy representation of the nation's political leaders.