WASHINGTON (February 1, 2000) -- Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued the following statement concerning the move closer to sainthood for U.S. nun-heiress Blessed Katharine Drexel, Pope John XXIII and Redemptorist Father Francis Xavier Seelos, a Bavarian native who worked with immigrants in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Michigan and Louisiana.
The statement was issued the day after Pope John Paul II's January 27 acceptance as miracles healings attributed to their intercession.
The statement follows.
Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza
On the Occasion of the Promulgation of Decrees Concerning
Blessed Katharine Drexel, Pope John XXIII
and Father Francis Xavier Seelos
It is with great delight that the bishops of the United States have received word that Blessed Katharine Drexel moves closer to canonization, the Church's official declaration of sainthood.
The progression toward sainthood occurred with Pope John Paul II's declaring as miraculous a healing attributed to the intercession of the Philadelphia heiress who used her $20 million fortune to found the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to work with poor Native Americans and African-Americans in the United States.
God has blessed the United States with many people who have worked with those in need. For the Church to single out one of them as being worthy of the title "Saint" and veneration by the entire Church is an honor for the United States. In the nation where Blessed Katharine was born and where she served those most in need, she stands as proof that when united to God one can use the goods of this earth for the good of all. In our affluent society, Blessed Katharine reminds us that material goods need not obscure the spiritual vision required to serve those in need.
We rejoice as well in the healing of Amanda Wall, the Pennsylvania child cured of deafness through the intercession of Blessed Katharine.
We also rejoice with the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and share in their hopes that this step toward canonization will advance efforts to eradicate racism, a goal of Blessed Katharine Drexel's life's work.
The Bishops of the United States also rejoice at the proclamation as miracles the healings attributed to Pope John XXIII and Redemptorist Father Francis Xavier Seelos, who is buried in New Orleans and who worked in several areas of the United States including Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Michigan.
Many of us remember fondly the election of Cardinal Angelo Roncalli as pope and his courageous call for the Second Vatican Council, which opened in 1962 and began the renewal of the Church. With his election, Pope John XXIII immediately became a figure held in affection by people of all faiths. With an infectious warmth and vision, he stressed the relevance of the Church in a rapidly changing society and made the Church's deepest truths stand out in the modern world.
The beatification of Father Seelos, who was born in Bavaria and gave himself tirelessly for people in the United States, also stands as a moment to rejoice in this nation. Father Seelos's example of service, especially as he tended victims of yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans in 1867, reminds all of us of the need to go beyond ourselves. We rejoice with the family of the Redeptorists in this honor bestowed on them and, through them, upon all of us in the United States, where the Redemptorists serve so generously.
This is an exciting day when we see how much good has come into and from our nation and how God has blessed us in so many ways.