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Pope clarifies Church’s traditions, norms for canonization; announces new instruction
Catholic News Agency ^ | April 27, 2006

Posted on 04/27/2006 11:30:53 AM PDT by NYer

Vatican City, Apr. 27, 2006 (CNA) - As the world watches the Catholic Church in its process for the beatification of John Paul II, the Vatican has released a message from Pope Benedict to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which just finished its plenary assembly. In it, the Pope clarifies the Church’s stance and means for assessing sainthood.

The message, released today, was addressed specifically to Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation.

The Holy Father wrote that ''From her beginnings, the Church has dedicated great attention to the procedures that elevate Servants of God to the glory of the altars. The causes of saints are considered 'major causes' because of their noble and material impact on the lives of the people of God."

Benedict then recalled many of his predecessors--including John Paul II--who sought to improve the Church’s ways of studying and celebrating the lives of saints, including the 1983 Apostolic Constitution ‘Divinus Perfectionis Magister and the ‘Normae servandae in inquisitionibus ab Episcopis faciendis in Causis Sanctorum.’

He wrote that "The experience of more than 20 years since this text was published has prompted this congregation to publish an 'Instruction for the procedure of diocesan inquiries into the causes of saints,' which is chiefly addressed to diocesan bishops and constitutes the first theme examined by the plenary."

The new instruction, he said, "attempts to facilitate the application of the 'Normae servandae' in order to safeguard the seriousness of investigations", into virtues, causes of martyrdom or possible miracles.

The Pope went on, saying that "It is clear that a cause of beatification or canonization cannot be initiated in the absence of a proven reputation for holiness, even when dealing with people who have been distinguished for their evangelical coherence and for particular ecclesial or social merits."

He then addressed the second theme of the plenary session--"the miracle in the causes of saints"--explaining that "miracles constitute divine confirmation of a judgment expressed by the ecclesial authorities on [a person's] virtuous life.”

“I hope”, he added, “that the plenary will study this subject deeply in the light of the tradition of the Church, of modern theology, and of the most accredited discoveries of science.”

He likewise cautioned that “in examining purportedly miraculous events, the competency of scientists and theologians comes together, although the decisive judgment falls to theology which alone is capable of interpreting miracles in the light of the faith.”

“It should also be clearly borne in mind”, he wrote, “that unbroken Church practice establishes the need for a physical miracle, a moral miracle is not enough."

Moving to the subject of martyrdom, the Pope said that in its truest sense, the source and motive of martyrdom must be modeled in Christ, not done for what he called “fake different reasons” like “political or social ones.”

“It is of course necessary”, he said, “to find incontrovertible proof of willingness to suffer martyrdom, ... and of the victim's acceptance thereof. But it is equally necessary that, directly or indirectly but always in a morally certain fashion, the 'odium Fidei' of the persecutor should be apparent.”

“If this element is lacking,” Benedict explained, “there is no real martyrdom in accordance with the perennial theological and juridical doctrine of the Church."

The pontiff concluded his message by again referring to the late John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution "Divinus Perfectionis Magister" which deals with the need to associate bishops with the Holy See in dealing with the causes of saints.

Based on that document, the Pope said, "I have implemented the widespread desire that the substantial difference between the celebration of beatification and that of canonization should be more deeply underlined.”

Namely, he stressed that “particular Churches should be more visibly involved in the rite of beatification, it being understood that only the Roman Pontiff may concede veneration to a Servant of God."

TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Catholic; Current Events; History; Prayer; Religion & Culture; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: benedictxvi; canonization; pope; saintmaking; vatican

1 posted on 04/27/2006 11:30:56 AM PDT by NYer
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To: american colleen; Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; ...

Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, during the weekly general audience Wednesday April 26, 2006. Recalling the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the pontiff urged world leaders Wednesday to ensure that all forms of energy are in the peaceful service of humanity. (AP Photo/Plinio Lepri)

2 posted on 04/27/2006 11:31:55 AM PDT by NYer (Discover the beauty of the Eastern Catholic Churches - freepmail me for more information.)
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To: NYer

Having the pope as the sole arbitor of canonizations is a rather late development in Church history.

I think it would be a good gesture to the Orthodox to allow the patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches and Metropolitans of the Metropolitan Eastern Catholic Churches canonize their own saints autonomous of Rome.

3 posted on 04/27/2006 11:42:12 AM PDT by pravknight (Christos Regnat, Christos Imperat, Christus Vincit)
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To: pravknight

And, based on every response we've seen in, oh, say the last 20 years - and most especially in the last few years, and specifically within the last couple of months (re: "Patriarch of the West") - what do you think the Orthodox response to that would be?

Let me offer a wild guess: "too little, too late," "not enough," "not worded properly," "should have done more," "should have done more sooner," "what does he mean by saying this, in this way, at this time" . . .

Anyone else on the Board want to hazard an educated guess?

4 posted on 04/27/2006 12:36:20 PM PDT by TaxachusettsMan
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To: TaxachusettsMan

Based on the usual responses of EO freepers I'd say you hit the nail on the head.

5 posted on 04/27/2006 11:51:49 PM PDT by Straight Vermonter (The Stations of the Cross in Poetry --->
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To: Straight Vermonter; pravknight; TaxachusettsMan

I think pravknight's suggestion is an interesting one, but sadly, I think the reactions of TM and SV were accurate predictors of the response. I no longer participate in the EO threads because they are never simple discussions, which could be interesting, but immediately turn into bitter harangues and cries of "Remember 1453!" It has been my experience from knowing many Orthodox that converts are sometimes the most bitter and angry, particularly those who converted from the Catholic Church. I wish we would all get over this and be able to have a serious, respectful discussion of issues.

Aside from that, however, I think this instruction is much-needed. I worried that we were heading towards a situation like the Episcopalians, who are fond of stained glass windows depicting Einstein, astronauts, US civil rights figures, etc. Having achieved a lot in your life or even having done good to society are not the same as sainthood, which must always be that little window by which we are enabled to see the penetration of God into someone's life and the transformation of that person in ways that are not understandable from an earthly perspective. Sainthood reminds us that God is different from us, and that His ways are not our ways.

6 posted on 04/28/2006 3:18:03 AM PDT by livius
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To: livius

7 posted on 04/28/2006 7:08:39 AM PDT by bornacatholic
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To: pravknight

Well, they're not going to canonize Photius any time soon. Hehehe. Seriously, is there a clammering for such? Are there several candidates who have been denied canonization by Rome?

8 posted on 04/28/2006 4:02:22 PM PDT by dangus
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To: dangus

You already have. He's on the liturgical calendar of the Byzantine Catholic Churches. St. Photios Magnus, ora pro nobis!

9 posted on 04/28/2006 7:32:08 PM PDT by pravknight (Christos Regnat, Christos Imperat, Christus Vincit)
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