Vatican tightens standards for sainthood
Vatican City, Feb. 13, 2008 (vaticans.org) - The Vatican will advise bishops around the world this next week to be more rigorous in their selection of the candidates they propose for sainthood, ANSA reports.
Initial investigations into the life of a proposed saint take place in the diocese where he or she died. The local bishop must begin the inquiry and oversee the first phase, which produces a dossier of evidence to be sent to Rome.
The dossier is then examined by Vatican officials, who decide whether the candidate merits official recognition. If found meritorious, candidates are then declared “servant of God,” after which they can be beatified, and given the title “Blessed,” after further examination. Beatification is the last step before canonization, in which the candidate is proclaimed a saint and model for the whole Church.
Cardinal Saraiva Martins said the new document would “respond better to the new spirit introduced by Benedict XVI.” Pope Benedict XVI has emphasized a clear line between beatification and canonization. Unlike Pope John Paul II, who also presided over beatifications, Pope Benedict only officiates at canonization ceremonies and delegates beatifications to cardinals.
The new restrictions are expected to diminish the number of candidates proposed to the Vatican for recognition.
Some critics accused Pope John Paul II’s pontificate of recognizing too many saints, saying the quantity helped devalue canonizations.
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