Blessed Josemaría Escrivá: Witness of God´s Tenderness

Interview with Postulator of Cause of Canonization of Opus Dei´s Founder

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ROME, DEC. 21, 2001 ( In a troubled world, the forthcoming canonization of Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer communicates to everyone the immense tenderness of God, a monsignor says.

Monsignor Flavio Capucci, postulator of the cause of canonization of Opus Dei´s founder, spoke with ZENIT about his project.

–Q: Following John Paul II´s recognition on Thursday of a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Escrivá, will we see his canonization in 2002, the centenary of his birth?

–Monsignor Capucci: I have my reservations about this possibility. The recognition of a miracle does not mean that the date of canonization will be declared automatically. There is a prior step: the convocation of a consistory by the Pope, which is generally held a few months later.

It is [in this consistory] that the Holy See discloses what canonizations will take place and their dates. So, I don´t know if it will be in 2002, although I have high hopes.

–Q: In presenting a Christian as a saint, the Church proposes him or her as a universal model of life. Which virtue did Escrivá de Balaguer reflect especially?

–Monsignor Capucci: All saints have an outstanding virtue: charity, love of God, root of their Christian heroism. In Blessed Josemaría, charity has a very original dimension: in preaching the sanctification of the human, of daily life, the theological virtues receive a very human tone.

Thus, faith means security, confidence; hope is audacity and optimism; and charity is tenderness. He could not conceive of supernatural charity without affection. It is friendship, loyalty which, through God´s gift, creates a family atmosphere.

It is Christianity without any rigidity, and laden with affective, spontaneous, pleasing and attractive values.

–Q: This is not the image usually given by those who criticize Opus Dei.

–Monsignor Capucci: The truth is that what Escrivá is most remembered for is his spiritual paternity: He was seen as someone who was very close, and who loved everyone a lot. It is only thanks to this spiritual paternity that I can understand the universal explosion of private devotion to Blessed Josemaría.

One sees in his look, in the photographs, something attractive, something that makes Christianity attractive. This also explains why to date I have collected documentation for more than 30 miraculous cures. It is something that, as postulator, I have seen for myself in very many countries.

–Q: John Paul II has given the go-ahead to the declaration of sanctity of the founder of Opus Dei in a very particular historical context, in which fear and uncertainty seem to reign following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Nothing is accidental for a believer. What do you think?

–Monsignor Capucci: In an era when culture seems to be suffused with fear, in which, paradoxically, man´s relation with God is extended, it seems that at times we are afraid of God.

[There is] fear of complicating one´s life, of coming out of oneself, of giving up certain habits. Blessed Josemaría made divine filiation the foundation of Opus Dei´s spirit. We relate to God as a very loving Father. Confidence is the most tangible characteristic of the spirit and formation of the Work. Perhaps this is a response to the contemporary crisis.

–Q: What does this recognition and the future canonization mean for Opus Dei in general and for each one of its members in particular?

–Monsignor Capucci: Now we are preparing to celebrate the centenary of his birth. It is a call to fidelity, especially highlighted if the canonization takes place.

–Q: Is Opus Dei now more of a «work of God» than previously?

–Monsignor Capucci: [Laughing] In a word, I agree, but it is a call to fidelity, to apply his teachings in one´s personal life.

–Q: The atmosphere in which the miracle has been recognized is very different from that of the beatification in 1992. On that occasion, many articles were published opposing that event. What´s happened?

–Monsignor Capucci: I don´t know. Above all, it is the consequence of the passing of time; it is 10 years. Many obscure things have been clarified.

Criticism came primarily from seeing the speed with which the beatification took place. I used to reply that this was the first cause that was opened and concluded under John Paul II´s reform, and that in the future one would hope that other more simple and brief cases would be completed in less time. And events have proved me right. Many causes have been concluded in a very brief time. Hence, knowledge of the subject has watered down the criticisms.

What is more, I think that truth has made inroads. Perhaps we have realized that Blessed Josemaría cannot be seen as a symbol of an ideological stance, stemming from a sensibility that has now changed. He was painted as the symbol of conservatism, as a representative of the Franco period.

–Q: Is this not so?

–Monsignor Capucci: Escrivá is, above all, a man of the Church. He founded Opus Dei to serve the Church and not a faction. I think that, increasingly, this is seen more clearly. For me, who am Italian, and who knew him since I was 18, to say that Escrivá was a follower of Franco is something that makes no sense.

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