Chris Muir's Day By Day

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Pope Francis Hits a Home Run With New Policy

Giving your life for another can lead to canonization, pope decides.

To recognize someone officially as a saint to be emulated, the Church has a rigorous, time-consuming process, briefly outlined here. There are stages leading up to canonization, including those marked by the bestowing of the titles Servant of God, Venerable, and Blessed.

Miracles attributed to the intercession of the saint are part of the process.

And today, Pope Francis has made an adjustment to this system by adding another category to the pathways that can lead to canonization.

The document Maiorem hac dilectionem (“Greater love than this”) opens a fourth path for the canonization of saints, a path titled oblatio vitae, “the offering of one’s life.”

This category provides a framework for recognizing “heroic Christian witness,” explained Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci of Bevagna, Italy, secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes, in an interview with L’Osservatore Romano today.

Up until now, there had been three paths leading to beatification and eventual canonization: martyrdom “in odium fidei” [being killed because of your Catholic faith – translator’s note], recognition of the heroic living of virtue, and a third, called “equivalent canonization,” when a pope simply confirms a devotion to a saint who is already well-established in the Church. This equivalent canonization was the case of the Jesuit Pierre Faber (1506-1546) recognized by Pope Francis in 2013, or of Hildegard of Bingen, recognized by Pope Benedict XVI.

This new path, oblatio vitae, is taken from the Lord’s assertion, “Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for a friend.”


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