JUAN DIEGO, the Aztec Indian to w horn Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in 1531 may move another step towards being made a saint this year, according to the postulator of his cause of canonisation.
The postulator, Mgr Enrique Salazar, said in an Interview that the next step would be a declaration by the Vatican with papal approval that Juan Diego lived a life of heroic Christian virtue. It is a declaration that he is a servant of God, or venerable, the postulator said.
Mgr Salazar saki that when Pope John Paul visited the shrine of Guadalupe in 1979 with Cardinal Ernesto Corriplo Ahumada of Mexico City, the pope asked the cardinal why Juan Diego "was not already honoured on the altar as a saint."
The cardinal explained that, "first of all, because of the domination of the Spaniards in Mexico at that time, the Indians were disdained. Then, the missionaries in the country at that time said that, If Juan Diego were made a saint, the Indians would believe he was God."
The cardinal explained further, Mgr Salazar said, that because of the Mexican revolution, a rise In anticlericalism and a shortage of vocations to the priesthood, "there was no one to do the work" necessary to promote the cause of canonising Juan Diego.
Mgr Salazar said that Cardinal Corripio Ahumada in 1979 named him postulator for Juan Diego's cause. The postulator has the duty of presenting, discussing and defending the cause with
officials at the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
The 64-year-old Mgr Salazar is a priest of the Diocese of Tulanclngo, Mexico, who studied philosophy and theology at the Jesuit-run Gregorian University in Rome and was ordained to the priesthood in 1943 at the Basilica of St John Lateran, the Pope's cathedral, in Rome.
Mgr Salazar said that, after he was named postulator, "Rome asked that three expert historians seek all the necessary documentation concerning the life of Juan Diego for presentation in Rome."
Compiling the voluminous documentation took about a year and a half, he said, and it was taken to Rome in 1981.
Last year, Mgr Salazar went to Rome, he said, to find out what had been done. The congregation officials "had done nothing" he said, adding that "eternal Rome" sometimes moves slowly.
After he protested at the inaction, the congregation appointed another official to wttl, tt.r. eqtr, of ifuan Diego.