Pope advances sainthood causes of U.S. priest, Vietnamese cardinal

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By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis advanced the sainthood
causes of Wisconsin-born Capuchin Father Solanus Casey, five religious, four
laypeople and two cardinals, including Vietnamese Cardinal Francois Nguyen Van

The pope approved the decrees during an audience May 4
with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes.

Father Casey (1870-1957) was known for his great faith,
humility and compassion and for his ministry as spiritual counselor. He gained
a popular following during his lifetime, with healings attributed to his
intercession both before and after his death.

He was the sixth of 16 children of Irish immigrant
parents. He was born on a farm near Oak Grove, Wisconsin, and as a young man
worked as a logger, a hospital orderly, a streetcar operator and a prison guard
before entering the Capuchins at age 26.

He was ordained in 1904 as a “simplex priest,”
one who is unable to hear confessions or preach dogmatic sermons because he had
not performed very well in his studies. He carried out humble tasks in the
monastery and, while serving in Yonkers, New York, Father Casey was assigned to
be the friary’s porter, or doorkeeper, a ministry he would carry out for the
rest of his life.

He was known to be gentle, approachable and genuinely
concerned for people as he had unique insight into people’s needs and how they
fit into God’s plans.

He was declared venerable in 1995 and Pope Francis’
approval of a miracle attributed to his intercession was the next step needed
for his beatification. Another miracle, after his beatification, would be
needed for him to advance to sainthood.

Among the other decrees May 4, Pope Francis recognized
the heroic virtues of Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan, who served as president of the
Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace from 1998 to 2002 — the
year he died.

Born in 1928, Vietnam’s communist regime jailed him in
1975 when he was the newly named coadjutor bishop of Saigon, later renamed Ho
Chi Minh City. He was never tried or sentenced and spent nine of his 13 years
of detention in solitary confinement. His uncle was South Vietnam’s first
president, Ngo Dinh Diem, a Catholic who was assassinated in 1963.

Also May 4, the pope recognized miracles that advanced the
causes of three religious women toward beatification and the martyrdom of
Lucien Botovasoa, a married man with eight children, who was also a Third Order
Franciscan, teacher and a catechist at his parish in Vohipeno, Madagascar.

As the African island went from being a colonial outpost
to an independent nation, Botovasoa was blacklisted as an enemy of the cause
for independence and was killed in 1947 out of hatred of the faith.

Years later a village elder admitted on his deathbed to a
local missionary that he ordered the murder of Botovasoa even though Botovasoa
had told him he would be by his side to help him whenever he was in need. The
elder told the missionary he felt Botovasoa’s presence and asked to be

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