A late Berks County priest is one step closer to being called a "saint."
The Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints has declared it "valid" that the Diocese of Allentown is investigating the life and reputation of Father Walter Ciszek.
"The issuing of the decree by the Congregation is a major step forward in the effort to see Father Ciszek canonized a saint of the Church," Monsignor Anthony Muntone, Diocesan Co-Postulator for Father Ciszek's Cause for Canonization said in a Diocese press release.
The investigation into his life, which included testimony from 45 witnesses, took more than ten years to complete, according to the Diocese of Allentown.
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Father Ciszek was a Jesuit missionary to the Soviet Union who was arrested as a spy for the Vatican. He was held prisoner for 23 years until he returned to the U.S. in 1963.
Father Ciszek was born in Shenandoah, Schuylkill County. He died on December 8, 1984, and was buried at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville, Berks County.