Tuesday, March 18, 2008

K of C papal visit aids founder's cause

By Mary E. O’Leary
Register Topics Editor
Knights of Columbus officials hope Pope Benedict XVI’s first visit to the United States next month will provide an opportunity to talk about the Rev. Michael McGivney, who, if canonized, would be the first American-born priest to receive the honor.
Over the weekend, the pope approved a decree recognizing the “heroic virtue” of McGivney, a move that advances the process in which McGivney could be declared a saint in the Roman Catholic Church.
“This is a big, long step in that direction (sainthood,)” said Patrick Korten Monday, spokesman for the Knights of Columbus.
“The timing strongly suggests that this (announcement) opens the way for the pope to say something about Father McGivney. I can’t imagine it’s an accident,” Korten said of the recognition, coming as it does a month before the pope’s visit to the United States from April 15-20.
McGivney, who came to St. Mary’s Church in New Haven as a parish priest in 1878, founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882 as way to strengthen the religious faith of Catholic men and to provide some financial help for widows and children in the mainly Irish parish.
McGivney can now be addressed as “Venerable Servant of God,” a prelude to possible beatification, which requires that Vatican physicians and scientists verify that a miracle took place through McGivney’s intercession.
A second miracle would have to be verified for canonization, or declaration of sainthood.
The reason for recognizing the parish priest’s virtue is to hold him up as a model. Of the 46,000 priests in the United States, 28,000 are Knights, Anderson said. “I hope this would be a big encouragement to them,” he said. “We are very excited that the pope took this next step.”
The process of sainthood for McGivney was opened in 1997 by Hartford Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin and has been under review since 2000 by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Addressing McGivney’s pastoral life during a papal visit to the United States “would be an appropriate thing to do,” Korten said. “There are multiple opportunities where he (Benedict) could do that.”
The pope’s itinerary includes visits to Washington, D.C., the United Nations in New York, Ground Zero in New York and St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, among other stops, before celebrating a Mass at Yankee Stadium April 20.
Mary E. O’Leary can be reached at 789-5731 or moleary@nhregister.com.

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