MANILA - A Filipino bishop is now a step closer to sainthood.
This, after Pope Francis declared Lucena's first bishop, the late Monsignor Alfredo Obviar, as venerable.
The Vatican on Wednesday said Pope Francis has authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decree on "the heroic virtues of the Servant of God Alfredo Maria Obviar, first bishop of Lucena and founder of the Congregation of the Missionary Catechists of Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus."
Obviar was born in Lipa, Batangas in 1889 and died in Lucena in 1978.
In 1969, he was appointed as bishop of then newly-created Diocese of Lucena, a post he served until his retirement in 1976.
Once the person's "heroic virtues" is recognized by the pontiff, they are now called "venerable", paving the way for possible beatification and canonization.
A "venerable" will be approved for beatification once a miracle is attributed to his or her intercession. With the pope's approval of a decree of a miracle, the person can now be beatified, earning him or her the title of "blessed."
A second miracle is needed before proceeding to canonization, which would then lead to his or her official declaration as "saint."
These processes undergo strict scrutiny to ensure that each declaration is truly of divine intervention.
Currently, there are two Filipino saints in the Catholic Church: Lorenzo Ruiz of Manila, who was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1987, and Pedro Calungsod of Cebu, who was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.