Álvaro del Portillo
|Álvaro del Portillo y Diez de Sollano|
|Prelate of Opus Dei|
Álvaro del Portillo
|Successor||Javier Echevarría Rodríguez|
|Ordination||25 June 1944|
11 March 1914|
|Died||23 March 1994
Álvaro del Portillo, or Álvaro del Portillo y Diez de Sollano, (March 11, 1914 - March 23, 1994), was a Spanish engineer and Roman Catholic bishop. He served as the prelate of Opus Dei between 1982 and 1994. He was declared Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI on 28 June 2012. On July 5, 2013 Pope Francis published a decree from the Congregation of the Causes of the Saints declaring the miraculous character of a cure of a Chilean boy attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Alvaro del Portillo, which will allow for his beatification.
He was born in Madrid. He studied civil engineering and after obtaining his doctorate at the University of Madrid taught at its School of Engineering. He briefly worked with the Bureau of Highways and Bridges in the provinces crossed by the rivers Júcar, Duero and Ebro.
In 1935, he joined Opus Dei and was subsequently ordained to the priesthood on June 25, 1944. He continued his studies to obtain two additional doctorates: Philosophy and Letters; and Canon Law. He then dedicated himself exclusively to the ministry and government of Opus Dei as its Secretary General. During the pontificate of Pope Pius XII (1939–1958), he worked in several Dicasteries of the Holy See.
In 1963, he was named by Pope John XXIII as a consultant on the Pontifical Commission for the revision of the Code of Canon Law. Pope Paul VI named him consultant on several post-Conciliar commissions. In 1975, he was chosen general president of the Opus Dei and successor of Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, and in 1982, the Holy See appointed him as the first Prelate of Opus Dei. In 1991, he was consecrated a bishop by Pope John Paul II.
He has written extensively about pastoral and ecclesiological matters that examine among others, the role of the lay faithful in the Roman Catholic Church, the human side of priestly formation, the dynamics and functionality of pastoral structures. As Prelate, he also served as Grand Chancellor of the University of Piura in Peru.
On his death, John Paul II recalled del Portillo's "zealous priestly and episcopal life, the example he always gave of fortitude and of trust in divine providence and his fidelity to the See of Peter.”
Then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger referred to del Portillo's "modesty and availability in every circumstance,” in his work at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which del Portillo "enriched in a singular way with his competence and experience.”
In 2004, the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, said “The rather frequent occasions that I had to meet Bishop del Portillo imprinted on my soul the conviction that I found myself in the presence of an exemplary pastor.” He added: “In the firmness of his adherence to the doctrine of the Church, in his union with the Pope, in his pastoral charity, in his humility, and in his balance, he exhibited an extraordinary interior richness.” According to the Cardinal, “the service that Don Alvaro always provided to the Church of Rome and the prompt and effective way that he supported the Holy Father’s pastoral initiatives in this diocese showed the love of the Church that he had learned from St. Josemaría.”
Cardinal Ruini said that there is a desire for a “quick beginning of this cause of canonization” on the part of “so many members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy and of the people of God.” Also that there is “an abundant store of testimonies of people who knew him, among them, those of quite a few cardinals and bishops,” he said. He then added: “The Bishop’s Conference [of Italy] has unanimously expressed its favorable opinion” on beginning the cause.
On June 28, 2012, the Vatican announced that his life had been recognized as one of "heroic virtue" - a major step towards an eventual beatification. From this time on, Msgr. del Portillo is styled "Venerable Servant of God".
For the process, 133 witnesses were interviewed. Among whom were 19 cardinals and 12 bishops or archbishops. 62 of the witnesses belong to the Prelature; 71 do not belong to it.
The documentation submitted to the Vatican comprised 2,530 pages in three volumes.
Contribution to the Second Vatican Council
The history of del Portillo's involvement is as follows:
- May 2, 1959: named Consultor of the congregation of the Council;
- August 10, 1959: named President of the VII internal Commission De laicatu catholico;
- Named member of the pre-preparatory Commission on the states of perfection;
- August 12 elected member of the III Commission of the Congregation of the Council encharged to study the so-called peculiaria nostrae aetatis apostolatus media.
- October 4, 1962: named conciliar “Peritus.”
- November 4, 1962: named “Peritus” of the Commission for the Discipline of the Clergy and Christian People;
- November 8, 1962: named Secretary of this organism
- Named Consultor of the Commissions for the Bishops and the regime of the dioceses, the Religious and the Discipline of the Faith.
- September 29 – December 1963: during the Second Session of the Council, the Commission for the Discipline of the Clergy and the Christian People, of which D. Alvaro was Secretary, was charged to synthesize into a single conciliar decree (to become “Presbyterorum Ordinis). He coordinated the work of the members of the Commission which became a conciliar text of a single chapter subdivided into 10 parts.
According to Salvador Bernal, his biographer: Del Portillo was the person who argued that there be a specific Decree for priests. Also one of the decisions of the Commission for the Discipline of the Clergy and the Christian People was "defend centuries-old traditions against those who regarded them as mere pietism. It discussed the presence of the priest in the world, and why he needed a good formation in the basic human virtues in order to serve the men and women of his time. But it also warned that priests should not adopt lay lifestyles, much less take on commitments of a partisan political nature. Finally, it asserted the freedom to join associations which in one way or another could help them achieve personal sanctification in the carrying out of their priestly ministry.”
“Not a week had gone by after the close of the Council when Cardinal Ciriaci, president of the commission of which Don Alvaro had been secretary, sent him a note expressing heartfelt gratitude and congratulations for the happy conclusion of a great achievement.” The note said: “You steered to a safe harbor your decree, which is by no means the least important of the decrees and constitutions of the Council.” The vote on the document was 2390 to 4, a nearly unanimous approval after thorough debate, on December 7, 1965. Ciriaci said: (History would regard this decree as) “a fresh, and practically unanimous, confirmation by the Second Vatican Council of ecclesiastical celibacy and the exalted mission of the priesthood.”
Pope Paul VI also commented on his work: “I am well aware of the extent to which this is a result of your prudent, tenacious, and courteous efforts. Without failing to respect the freedom of others to have and to express their own opinions, you never swerved from the track of fidelity to the great principles of priestly spirituality.”
- Faithful and laity in the Church (1969)
- On the Priesthood (1970)
- Dinamicità e funzionalità delle strutture pastorali
- ¿Un nuevo Derecho Canónico?
- Morale e Diritto
- Immersed in God: Blessed Josemaria Escriva, Founder of Opus Dei as Seen by His Successor, Bishop Álvaro Del Portillo -- by Álvaro Del Portillo and Cesare Cavalleri
Excerpts from his works
"Authentic joy is based on this foundation: that we want to live for God and want to serve others because of God. Let us tell the Lord that we want nothing more than to serve him with joy. If we behave in this way we shall find that our inner peace, our joy, our good humour will attract many souls to God. Give witness to Christian joy. Show to those around you that this is our great secret. We are happy because we are children of God, because we deal with him, because we struggle to become better for him. And when we fail, we go right away to the Sacrament of joy where we recover our sense of fraternity with all men and women." Homily, 12 Apr 1984; quoted by Francis Fernandez Carvajal in In Conversation With God, vol.5, p. 155
- Decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, June 28, 2012. Vatican Information Service, June 28, 2012.
- Postulator Speaks about Alvaro del Portillo's Cause of Canonization
- Bernal, Salvador (August 1999). Álvaro del Portillo. Scepter Publishers. ISBN 1-889334-18-9
- Spanish biography of Msgr. del Portillo
- Anniversary of the death of Alvaro del Portillo by Robert O'Connor
- Amadeo de Fuenmayor Champín and Manuel J. Peláez, “Álvaro [José María Eulogio] del Portillo Diez de Sollano (1914-1994)”, in Diccionario crítico de Juristas españoles, portugueses y latinoamericanos (hispánicos, brasileños, quebequenses y restantes francófonos) [until November 2006], vol. II, part 1 (M-Va), Zaragoza-Barcelona, 2006, pp. 335–339, no. 818.
- María del Carmen Amaya Galván, extended and updated English version of Álvaro del Portillo’s biography as a canonist, written by A. de Fuenmayor and Manuel J. Peláez, in María del Carmen Amaya Galván and M. J. Peláez, “Informes jurídicos y notas políticas sobre la situación política y jurídica de Andorra remitidos al Prefecto de los Pirineos Orientales (1881-1965) por el Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores galo, por el Comisario extraordinario para los Valles de Andorra René Baulard (1933 y 1936-1940) y por otras autoridades y personalidades políticas y académicas (tercera parte)”, in Contribuciones a las Ciencias Sociales, ISSN 1988-7833, October 2010, online, http://www.eumed.net/rev/cccss/10/pag.htm (pp. 1–76), see .Pdf file, pp. 5–9, notes 9 and 10 [It has been indexed as an extended abstract in EconPapers (Örebro University – Swedish Business School. Sweden), in Ideas in Society of Economic Dynamics (University of Connecticut. U.S.A.), and in Соционет, научное информационное пространство (Moscow. Russia)].