Before proclaiming martyrs, the waiting game is needed


Crux, 6 May 2017

Many of those killed in attacks targeting Christians were simply going about their daily affairs when the bomb went off, or the mob arrived. Some of them professed their faith, or at least did not deny it, before death, while others died without even knowing what was happening to them. Before the Church proclaims them all martyrs, the Church needs time to permit a fuller picture of the candidate to emerge. Waiving the mandatory five-year waiting period before opening a cause for canonization makes it harder to do that.

During Holy Week, at the Chrism Mass in Rouen, France, Archbishop Dominique Lebrun announced that the cause for canonization of Father Jacques Hamel had been opened.

Killed last July at the altar while celebrating Holy Mass, Pope Francis waived the canonical five-year waiting period after death for a cause to be opened.

Waiving the waiting period is exceedingly rare. In recent times it was done by St. John Paul II for Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and twice by Pope Benedict XVI, for John Paul and for Sister Lucia, the third of the Fatima visionaries. In all three cases, the individuals had for decades a widespread reputation for holiness.

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