At the end of his weekly general audience today, Pope Francis pointed to the sky and said Mother Angelica “is in heaven”.
The Holy Father gave his blessing and made the remark to members of EWTN’s Rome bureau as he greeted the faithful in St. Peter’s Square.
The staff had brought with them an image of EWTN’s founder as a sign of affection and remembrance for Mother Angelica after she passed away on Easter Sunday at the age of 92. National Catholic Register.
In response to the Pope’s action todays several noted theologians are divided on the theological significance of the Pope’s index finger point to Heaven with a statement referring to Mother Angelica.
Fr. Cyrus Winfield questioned the idea of whether the Pope’s digitus secundus pointing up exercised an infallible act. He noted the missing of words such as “formally declare or define” and the context regarding speaking to a group of faithful and not to the whole Church. He said “While this is certainly in the area of faith it is uncertain as to whether this must be held by the whole Church or locally such as in regards to beautifications.”
Lay theologian Irvin Brock, who entered the Church last year, had more definite ideas about this. “If the Pope had simply said she “is in Heaven” than this would be a simple case of him speaking off-the-cuff and would in no way have have invoked the charism of infallibility.“ He went on to say “Still that combined with the finger pointing in the traditional direction of Heaven makes this a totally different act. This could be papal sign language for “I define” we will just have to wait and see.
In the meantime Fr. Lombardi has not yet issued a statement regarding this.