Monday, June 23, 2014

Another Sports Saint?

Following my last post on a sports theme, here is another of interest. There seems to be effort in the US to have a baseballer player declared a Saint. A Catholic filmmaker Richard Rossi feels a Cause should be started and he is gathering information for Church authorities.  Roberto Clemente, a baseball player who died in 1972 in an aviation accident, is said to have lived a holy life while being one of the US's great sportsmen. 

In the Church if a person or group of people are convinced of the holiness of an individual, they are free to try and work towards the opening of a Cause. They need the support of the local bishop who will examine the evidence to see if a Cause is possible. So Rossi is doing the right thing in compiling his evidence. 

In the article above I note a little misunderstanding. It was noted that "the chances of the Church canonizing a layperson are not great". That is unwarranted and misleading. Being a layperson does not exclude anyone from glorification in the Church. Causes for laypeople can be more difficult because they may not have a religious order behind them, but the the chances of the Church canonising a layperson are as good as any other member of the Church. 

Indeed sometimes it can be harder to get a Cause open for a priest or religious because even if people are convinced of the holiness of a person and the person's life confirms that belief, and even if miracles are being worked, if the bishop or superiors of the priest's/religious's diocese or congregation refuse to consider a Cause, there is little that can be done until the obstruction is removed. But then that might need to become another miracle for the candidate to work.


  1. Still fair to say the chance of canonisation is not great and less for for a lay person. Simply an organisational fact, unless the lay person is a member of some sort of institute that might push - like Chiara Lubich.

  2. It's really an informative and well described post. I appreciate your topic for blogging. Thanks for sharing such a useful post.

  3. Note: As reported in FatherDirectorBlogspot, Salt Lake Tribune, Newsmax, Washington Times, Huffington Post, Religion News Service, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post, the campaign for Clemente's canonization is collecting letters of support and stories of miracles related to Roberto Clemente. E-mail to with your contact information. E-mailing your letter of support and stories grants permission to share publicly.

  4. Hello,I love reading through your blog, jump game

      Puerto Rico's Archbishop Sents Support Letter: Rossi Looking At 21's Catholic Roots
      Roberto Clemente's canonization campaign takes a major step forward today on what would've been the MVP right-fielder's 80th birthday. Puerto Rican Archbishop Roberto Octavio Gonzalez Nieves responded to Richard Rossi's campaign for Clemente's sainthood with a gracious letter of support and assigned Rossi the task of investigating Clemente's Catholic ties.

      Richard Rossi, director of "Baseball's Last Hero: 21 Clemente Stories" a film focusing on Clemente's spiritual side, had already received several encouraging letters regarding his efforts to make Clemente the next saint, including a letter from Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The Puerto Rican Archbishop's response was an important step because he has jurisdiction in the Diocese where Clemente perished in a mission of mercy to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

      "Clemente was known to some as a Catholic, and to others as a Baptist," Rossi said. "The Archbishop asked me to document his Catholic ties so we can move forward." Rossi's response documenting his findings was sent today on Clemente's 80th birthday. Rossi answered as follows:

      "Roberto Clemente was baptized in the Catholic Church, beginning his sacramental life. Father Alvin Gutierrez, who ministered to Clemente in Pittsburgh, told Inside the Vatican investigative writer William Doino Jr. that he was in contact with a parish priest in Puerto Rico who sent Father Gutierrez a copy of Roberto's baptismal certificate. Roberto was Catholic from the outset of his life to the end of his life. Roberto was married in San Fernando Roman Catholic Church on November 14, 1964 on the plaza in Carolina officiated by Father Salvador Planas in front of thousands of eyewitnesses. I can share with you photographs and film if you require this. His memorial service was also at San Fernando Roman Catholic Church at 3:30 p.m. the day after his plane went down. The Memorial Mass was led by Archbishop Luis Aponte Martinez and witnessed by the Pittsburgh Pirates team in attendance. As you can see, there is strong and verifiable evidence Roberto Clemente was baptized, married, and memorialized in the Catholic Church.

      As for the whether he was Baptist and not Catholic, here are the facts: His mother Luisa was an Evangelical Baptist. His father Melchor was a Catholic. Yes, Roberto was ecumenical and appreciated his mother's faith and Baptist roots as a part of his life and spiritual journey. His ecumenical love for his brothers and sisters in Christ in the Baptist church doesn't discount his worthiness of sainthood or his Catholicism, it is a positive and Christlike quality that Roberto could see God working in different churches. He was an intelligent man who took the good from his experiences in the Baptist Church of his mother and the Catholic Church of his father. He often said we must see others as our brothers and sisters. This in harmony with the Second Vatican Council which states members of other churches are our brethren. Roberto's heart for the world is a saintly characteristic, not a deterrent to the cause. As you know, the Bible says in Acts 2:17 "In the last days, I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh..." Though Roberto was Catholic, he had the eyes of Christ to see God in other churches such as the Baptists, and other cultures, and countries beyond his own.

      Roberto Clemente's life exhibited faith and the martyrdom of a Christlike death, dying out of compassion to save others. He truly lived the words of our Lord and Saviour in Saint John 15:13 "Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

      I prayerfully and respectfully thank you for openness to begin this cause so these matters can be looked into thoroughly.

      With highest respect and prayerful hope for this cause,

      Richard Rossi"

    2. That is good news Richard. I will remember your work in my prayers. The communication from the Archbishop is a positive step. We will follow your progress with interest.