, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 7 – The long road to the beatification of Maurice Cardinal Otunga that will see him become the first Kenyan saint is well underway, with only one stage to go.
Speaking after the seventh memorial service of the late cardinal on Monday, Postulator Anthony Bellagamba told Capital News that the church was currently studying documents that had been written on him as well as by him.
He explained that three commissions had been set up to look at the said documents before making their report.
“We are now in the second stage where we have the theological commission which will analyse any written material on the Cardinal to find out if his faith strongly came out. A historical and medical commission is also looking at the works and each of these commissions will have three people,” he said.
Father Bellagamba further explained that after the documents were studied and a report submitted, then the process of Cardinal Otunga’s beatification would get into its final stage. This stage would also be facilitated by the three commissions.
“This involves having an oral interview with the people who lived with the Cardinal and pretty much shared their life with him. Was he a prayerful man? Was he gentle? These are some of the questions whose answers we will be seeking,” he said.
If the majority of the commissions held the same positive attributes on Cardinal Otunga, then all the paper work would be forwarded to Rome to the Congregation of the Saints.
“The process would start all over again and they would re-do what the Kenyan commissions did. If they agree with the judgment, the Dioceses in Rome would declare Cardinal Otunga venerated and people can now start praying through him asking him to intercede for them,” he explained.
But before the Pope gives assent to the decision, a miracle would have to be performed: “A miracle is an action performed on an individual that cannot be explained by present knowledge. It could be a very sick person getting healed after asking Cardinal Otunga to pray for him.”
He added that there was no set time line for the works as it would only create false expectations: “The time element has so far been respected but there is no hurry. We get confronted by people who do not necessarily believe or think Cardinal Otunga should be beatified so we cannot work with specific time frames.”
Cardinal Otunga was born on January 31, 1923 and was the first Kenyan to become an archbishop and Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. He served the church for 53 years as a priest, a bishop and Cardinal before his demise at the age of 80 on September 6, 2003.
He was the son of a traditional tribal chief in Kakamega (Sudi Namachanja) who had 40 wives. His mother who was a diviner was called Rosa Namisi. He graduated from Mangu High School before proceeding to the seminary in Kakamega. He was ordained into priesthood at the age of 27 in 1950.