9/11 anniversary renews call of sainthood for Franciscan priest

Friday, Sep. 17, 2021
By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — The 20th anniversary remembrances of the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States is renewing a canonization push for the first identified casualty: Franciscan Father Mychal Judge.

Fr. Judge, a New York Fire Department chaplain, was at the World Trade Center site praying with and ministering to attack victims when debris falling from the ruins of the twin towers struck and killed him.

Even then, some Catholics were saying Fr. Judge should be considered for canonization.

Twenty years later, there has been only a bit of movement toward advancing the priest’s sainthood cause.

A representative of the Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes said Fr. Judge would be a good fit for sainthood as an “offerer” – based on Pope Francis’ 2017 motu proprio The Offerer of Life – as “someone who offers his life for others,” according to Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, an unofficial Catholic group that advocates for LGBT Catholics.

DeBernardo, in a Sept. 10 phone interview with Catholic News Service, said the group collected interviews with people who knew Fr. Judge, who died at age 68 after 40 years as a priest.

But sainthood is a lengthy and time-consuming process. And costly. The Archdiocese of New York, where Fr. Judge lived and ministered, has not sponsored his cause.

Franciscan Father Kevin Mullen, the current provincial of the Franciscans, said in an email following an inquiry from The Associated Press: “We are very proud of our brother’s legacy and we have shared his story with many people. We leave it to our brothers in the generations to come to inquire about sainthood.”

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