Beatification of Charles de Foucauld

Source: FSSPX News



On December 20, on the recommendation of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, John Paul II promulgated 22 decrees declaring the miracles necessary for three canonizations, eight miracles in preparation for beatifications, ten recognitions of heroic virtues and one martyrdom. These decrees involve five Poles – which the pope could elevate to sainthood during a possible visit in June to the country of his birth – four Ukrainians, a Latvian who died in Belgium, five Italians, two Germans, two Spaniards, the Frenchman Charles de Foucauld, a Portuguese and an American.

 On this occasion, the postulator of the cause on the beatification of Charles de Foucauld, Mgr. Maurice Bouvier, explained that the Second World War, followed by the Algerian war of independence had been the two main reasons rendering “untimely, the beatification of a priest who had been an officer in the French Army before his conversion.” This is why the cause, opened in 1927, was slowed down from 1934 to 1945, then practically abandoned in 1957. The process was eventually taken up again in 1967 when Pope Paul VI paid hommage to the efforts of Fr. de Foucauld for saving the Tuareg culture, at a time when the Algerian government seemed inclined to repress the country’s ethnic minorities.

 The examination of the writings of Charles de Foucauld was completed in 1968, permitting a response to all the criticisms formulated by the theological critics. In 1947, the diocesan process was concluded and deposited at the Holy See. The Roman process started in 1978, was completed in 1995. On April 24, 2001, the decree recognising the heroic virtues of Charles de Foucauld was promulgated. All that remained was the recognition of one miracle, necessary for every beatification.

 In 1984, Giovanna Citeri Pulici, an Italian from the Milan area, who is now about sixty years old, was cured of bone cancer through the intercession of Fr. de Foucauld. In fact, her husband, Giovanni Pulici invited his two sisters, both nuns, as well as the parish priest, to pray with him to the hermit of Tamanrasset, for whom he had a great devotion. It was not until the end of 2000, that Giovanni learned that the postulator of the cause was seeking a miracle. The diocesan inquiry was started in Milan in the autumn of 2002, and concluded in the spring of 2003. In Rome, after an extensive study, the Medical Commission recognized the miracle in July 2004, followed on October 27 by the theological Commission in charge of the dossier.

 Thence it only remained to fix a date for beatification in Rome. Next January, the Friends of Charles de Foucauld will meet to arrange this ceremony and call on the faithful to make donations in order to cover the costs. The postulator of the cause and Mgr. Claude Rault, the new bishop of Laghouat, the diocese where Charles de Foucauld died, hope that he may be raised to the glory of the altars with others, in order to not be “put in the spotlight” (sic). At the Vatican it is hoped that this ceremony will be the occasion to mark the link between Europe and North Africa, and above all, to emphasize the Eucharistic dimension of the spirituality of Charles de Foucauld, when the Church celebrates in 2005, a year dedicated to the Eucharist.

 Several declarations indicate that interreligious considerations, in line with Vatican II, will not be lacking at this beatification. On May 6, 2001, John Paul II, when visiting the mosque of Damascus – a first in the history of Islamo-Christian relations – placed interreligious dialogue between Muslims and Christians under the patronage of Charles de Foucauld and his friend Louis Massignon. According to Mgr. Rault, the vocation and the spirituality of this hermit are marked by Islam. “It was the Muslims who led him to God” (sic!!), he explained. “It was watching them pray, that the unbeliever came back to the faith of his childhood. The heart of Charles de Foucauld belongs more to the world than to France.” “It is possible that certain commentators and certain Muslims do not understand the sanctity of such a man. This is an occasion for us to inform people why this man went so far. He wanted to be open to others (sic),” concluded Mgr. Rault.

 Mgr. Teissier, the archbishop of Algiers, shares these sentiments. “The spirituality of Charles de Foucauld, which is embodied today in the Congregations and Associations of spiritual life built up around his heritage, is an important presence for relations between Christians and Muslims.” “ Disputes could have occurred, Fr. de Foucauld lived in a different period of the history of Algeria. He would not have been able, at that time, to go to Tamanrasset without the French Army. The opinions of Fr. de Foucauld would have been dependent on the times in which he lived, in the way he saw Islam and the presence of the Church in the world. All of this was transformed by his friendship with the Muslims. If Fr. de Foucauld arrived as a conqueror, he was immediately transformed by his encounters with other cultures,” said Mgr. Teissier. “What demonstrates his profound respect for the Tuareg people, is his ethnological work, his collections of poetry and his Tuareg dictionary, which is still in use today,” continued the archbishop of Algiers. In 1915, Charles de Foucauld compiled a 2000 page Tuareg-French dictionary.