Friday, December 18, 2015

Making Saints

The Catholic Church makes saints to provide role models for the faithful, and Pope Francis has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors in churning them out at a rapid clip. The process is cloaked in secrecy and open to criticism, given that it deals with science-defying miracles, politicized choices and significant sums of money, as was recently revealed in some blockbuster books on Vatican finance.

But saints aren't going away anytime soon, and Francis has actually made the process easier in some ways by doing away with the miracle requirement for several high-profile saints.


A postulator - essentially the cheerleader spearheading the project - gathers testimony and documentation and presents the case to the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints. If the congregation's experts agree the candidate lived a virtuous life, the case is forwarded to the pope, who signs a decree attesting to the candidate's "heroic virtues."

If the postulator finds someone was miraculously healed by praying for the candidate's intercession, and if the cure cannot be medically explained, the case is presented to the congregation as the possible miracle needed for beatification. Panels of doctors, theologians, bishops and cardinals must certify that the cure was instantaneous, complete and lasting - and was due to the intercession of the saintly candidate. If convinced, the congregation sends the case to the pope, who signs a decree saying the candidate can be beatified.

A second miracle is needed for canonization, which means the person becomes a saint.

Martyrs - people killed for their faith - can be beatified without a miracle. A miracle is needed, however, for martyrs to be canonized.

by Nicole Winfield, AP |  Read more:
Image: AP