Carlos Manuel Rodriguez: 1918-1963: Religious Educator
Beatified By Pope John Paul Ii
The process, usually measured in decades, occurred with unprecedented speed. After an ecclesiastical investigation involving 38 witnesses to Carmen Santana's recovery, the Vatican agreed that a miracle had occurred. Bits of Rodriguez's exhumed bones and articles of his clothing were designated as relics and flown to Rome, and on April 29, 2001, Rodriguez was beatified (and thus given the title of "Blessed") by the Pope. Upwards of 2,500 Puerto Rican devotees attended the ceremony in Rome, and thousands turned out for subsequent observations in Puerto Rico itself; at one of those, Rodriguez's remains were moved from Humacao back to his hometown of Caguas.
Since he was not a martyr, evidence of two other miracles was required before Rodriguez could be elevated to sainthood. That seemed likely after the Vatican began investigating three more miracles credited to Rodriguez, including the case of a paralyzed woman who visited his home, put on his shoes, and shortly afterward began walking unaided. Another measure of Rodriguez's lasting impact was the role he played in Puerto Rico's ultimately successful efforts to put an end to the Navy bombing practice on Vieques, which was blamed for health problems among the island's poverty-stricken residents.
Demonstrators carried Rodriguez's picture, and San Juan Archbishop Roberto O. González called on Puerto Rican worshippers to pray to Rodriguez for a resolution of the situation. "The sanctity of Blessed Carlos is more powerful than the entire military might of the United States," he was quoted as saying by the Catholic New York website. The Navy suspended the bombing for several days at the time of the beatification ceremonies, an act attributed by many Puerto Ricans to Rodriguez's direct intervention. Strengthening the Catholic Church in Puerto Rico during his lifetime, he had, it seemed, strengthened the society of the island from beyond the grave.
Associated Press Worldstream, April 12, 2001; April 28, 2002.
Daily News (New York), May 3, 2001, p. Suburban-4.
Orlando Sentinel, April 30, 2001; May 1, 2002, El Sentinel ed.
"Beato Carlos M. Rodriguez: Apostol Laico de Puerto Rico," Santoboricua, www.santoboricua.com (May 23, 2003).
"San Juan archbishop urges prayers to beatified Puerto Rican in Vieques Strife," Catholic New York, http://cny.org/archive/ld/ld060701.htm (May 28, 2003).
"Thousands of Puerto Ricans Receive Blessed Charlie in His Home Town," Catholic World News, www.cw news.com/Browse/2001/05/15618.htm (May 28, 2003).
—James M. Manheim
- Carlos Manuel Rodriguez: 1918-1963: Religious Educator - Inspired Many In Life And Death
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