Could the canonization process of Phyllis Schlafly be opened next year?

Phyllis Schlafly would appear to be a person who lived a life of heroic virtue. I understand that, unless a waiver is granted, the process for canonization cannot be opened until at least five years after the person has died. Mrs. Schlafly died on September 5, 2016, meaning that the five years will be up next year. I am wondering, what do you think are the chances that the Archdiocese of St. Louis will begin the investigation into her life which I understand is the first part of the process? Would the initiative have to come from the archbishop himself, or can the archbishop be called upon by the laity of his own diocese or the wider Church to begin the investigation?

I know she was Catholic, but I think of her more as a political activist than a spiritual/religious figure. I doubt anyone is thinking of her canonization.


There seems to be a recent trend of rushing into the canonization process while the body is still warm. I think time makes an excellent linesman.


That is true, but I wonder whether this is a kind of saint that we could do with having more of in this age. We have recently had, for example, the beatification of Carlo Acutis. In the past, many saints were popes, bishops, clergy, religious, virgins, martyrs, royalty, nobility, and so on. Mrs. Schlafly was a wife, a mother of six, a highly educated woman, a lawyer, politician, activist, and prolific writer. She is a fantastic example of how a Catholic woman can fulfill her vocation to marriage and motherhood while also becoming, for example, an expert on the nuclear arms race. I think that the Church needs more saints who were husbands/fathers and wives/mothers. It may well be that Fred Schlafly was also a person of heroic virtue.

Infinitesimally Slim to None. They’d have to be asked to do so. The only time they’d just start a cause on their own might be if the person was a clergy or employee of their diocese, which Phyllis obviously wasn’t.

She would need to have evidence of cult (basically a lot of people who pray to her asking for her intercession) and be shown to live a life of heroic virtue.

Since she wasn’t a member of an order who would push her cause, and wasn’t a clergy or employee of a diocese which might cause the diocese to push her cause, then a bunch of laypeople would need to get together and form an organization to promote her cause. This would involve making a website, promoting her cause, gathering evidence of her holiness which would including gathering up everything she ever wrote to be reviewed and evaluated, etc. It’s not cheap.

It’s highly unlikely to happen, given that there are dozens of such lay groups already pushing causes for lay people who arguably demonstrated far more 'heroic virtue" than Ms. Schafly. But hey, if you want to start such a group, go for it.

I personally wouldn’t be signing on to pray for her cause because I don’t think she lived a life of heroic virtue. Just living a reasonably good life isn’t enough, unless maybe you’re martyred, which again, she wasn’t.


Thank you for an extremely informative response. I had no idea how much work went on behind the scenes so to speak to get a cause going. Presumably to some extent this explains why clergy and religious seem to be promoted more strongly than laypeople and why, historically at least, many saints were people who were already prominent people (e.g., in recent history, Emperor Charles I of Austria). Personally, I think that the Church needs more saints like Blessed Luigi and Blessed Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi.

Yes, you’re correct. It’s normally going to take at least 50 to a few hundred years to make somebody a saint. A religious order that decides to devote its resources to canonizing their founder or whatever can continue to support that process over the long term. For lay people, it’s really hard to find some comparable organization to take on the burden of pushing their cause for 50-100-150 years.

I currently visit the shrine associated with an ordinary layperson(not a member of an order, didn’t found an organization or anything, just a married lady with husband and kid) who is currently a Servant of God up for canonization, and I guarantee you that a large part of the reason that this person’s cause has even reached the point of being sent to Rome is because she was a friend and mentor to Mother Angelica when Mother Angelica was in high school. EWTN helped in a number of ways. (No doubt this is sort of a prequel to Mother Angelica getting her own cause, which I am quite sure will happen almost right away after the 5 year waiting period ends next spring.) And she’s still just a Servant of God and who knows how long before she makes Venerable? It’s very hard.

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Thanks. This is very interesting. I had noticed that founders of orders often seem to be canonized or on the pathway to canonization. I had always assumed that this was because (a) you would probably have to be quite saintly to establish a new religious order and (b) founders of religious orders would tend to do saintly things. A bit like how popes often ended up being canonized. Currently, around 31% of all popes are recognized as saints with that figure rising to about 36% if you include Servants of God, Venerables, and Blesseds.

I agree that Mother Angelica would be a fine candidate for sainthood. I think I do know the person to whom you refer. You may well have good reasons for not naming her, so I shan’t do so myself. I live closer to the Northwest Territories of Canada than I do to her shrine, so I fear a visit is not imminent!

I think I had greatly underestimated the process. I kind of imagined one just wrote to the bishop to say, “Your Excellency, Five years ago my neighbor Mrs Kowalska died. For X, Y, and Z reasons I think she lived a life of heroic virtue. I’d be grateful if you’d be kind enough to investigate with a view to having her named a Servant of God. Many thanks. I have the honor to remain, Most Reverend Sir, Your Excellency’s most humble and obedient servant.”

You could, theoretically, write such a letter. I’ve seen websites where priests said the first step is to write such a letter to the Bishop. However, from a practical standpoint, unless the letter comes from a group, preferably some authorized Catholic group like a religious order, a pious association of the faithful, a secular institute etc, the bishop is unlikely to pay attention to the letter.

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I think the new St. Louis archbishop Mitchell Rozanski has lots of priorities that won’t include investigating the “cause” of a political activist best known for her association with the Goldwater campaign and defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment, however staunch a Catholic she was. While those issues can be debated by reasonable people, they are not the ingredients that are likely to lead to a consideration a mere 5 years after her death.

I can see Mother Angelica, because of all she did, founding the Eternal Word Network, etc. But to my mind I doubt Phyliss Schlafly. I don’t picture her in the same vein as Mother Angelica or Mother Teresa. If one wanted to go that route, I could write to the School Sisters of Notre Dame and the Archbishop of Milwaukee about proposing my late great aunt Sister Mary Generose SSND. for sainthood. She taught children her whole life, and inspired one of her former students to become a priest.I know this because he sent a photo of himself to her .My family got the photo along with others when she passed on.For all I know, she could have inspired a few female students to join the religious life in a convent. Certainly she was heroic and a godly woman and example of how to live a christian life, but i won’t. I know she is a saint, just as there are countless others from all walks of life , married ,single widowed who are saintly too.

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