New method for declaring saints welcome in an age of Christian persecution


Crux, 19 July 2017

Pope Francis's 'Mairoem hac dilectionem' does not create another category of martyrdom, but an alternative category. Martyrs, for example, do not require a miracle for beatification; oblatio vitae cases still do. On the other hand, candidates for beatification are required to have lived a life of “heroic virtue.” The oblatio vitae category requires a life of “ordinary virtue,” which should be reasonably easy to demonstrate for anyone proposed for beatification.

St. John Paul II’s reform of the procedures for beatifications and canonizations was arguably his most significant decision in terms of the day-to-day piety of Catholics. Without them, St. (Padre) Pio, St. Teresa of Calcutta and St. Gianna Molla, to say nothing of John Paul himself, would not be nourishing the piety of the faithful as canonized saints.

Making saints is the entirety of the Church’s mission. How official saints get “made” - or better recognized - in the life of the Church is thus of supreme importance. Attention ought to be paid to the reforms announced this week by Pope Francis in his letter Maiorem hac dilectionem (Greater love than this). The pope expanded the categories for sainthood to include those who were not martyred in the strict sense - killed in hatred for the faith - but who made an “offering of their life” (oblatio vitae) that led to their death.

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