Calls for sainthood for NYFD gay Catholic chaplain killed in 9/11 terror attacks

NYFD chaplain 9/11 sainthood

Supporters of a New York Fire Department (NYFD) Catholic chaplain killed in the 9/11 terror attacks are calling for him to be considered for sainthood.

Mychal Judge was a gay man who devoted himself to ministering to vulnerable populations such as the homeless or people with HIV/AIDS. Some of his many admirers point to him as a reason for the US Catholic Church to be more welcoming to LGBTQ people.

Some argue passionately that Judge should be considered for sainthood. A new initiative is to be launched in the coming days.

Though Judge’s religious order has not embraced that cause, a Rome-based priest who helps the Vatican investigate possible candidates for canonization is urging Judge’s supporters not to give up the effort.

Judge died in the line of duty two decades ago after hurrying with firefighter colleagues to the burning World Trade Center. As he prayed in the north tower’s lobby for the rescuers and victims, the 68-year-old priest was crushed by debris from the falling south tower.

“Mychal Judge shows us that you can be gay and holy,” said the Rev James Martin, a Jesuit priest who advocates for greater LGBTQ inclusion in the church.

“Father Judge’s selflessness is a reminder of the sanctity that the church often overlooks in LGBTQ people,” Martin said via email. “Heaven is filled with LGBTQ people. All the church has to do is start to recognize this.”

Many of Judge’s admirers took heart in 2017 when Pope Francis proclaimed a new pathway to sainthood, recognizing those who sacrifice their lives for others.

After that announcement, the Rev Luis Escalante, who has investigated possible sainthood cases for the Vatican’s Congregation for Causes of Saints, began receiving testimonies supporting Judge’s canonization.

Those accounts depicted Judge as “the best icon” of humanity, Escalante told The Associated Press via email this week.

But there was a hitch: The Franciscans — who normally would be expected to lead a sainthood campaign on behalf of someone from the order — declined to do so for Judge.

“We are very proud of our brother’s legacy. We have shared his story with many people,” Rev Kevin Mullen, leader of the Franciscans’ New York-based Holy Name Province, told the AP. “We leave it to our brothers in the generations to come to inquire about sainthood.”

Escalante hopes supporters don’t give up and instead form a viable organization that could pursue sainthood in the coming years. Among the tasks: building a case that a miracle occurred through a prayer to Judge.

“The negative decision of the Friars cannot be seen as a preclusion to going ahead with Fr. Judge’s cause,” Escalante wrote. “It’s just a challenge to American people.”


AP News

National Catholic Reporter

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