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Pope Francis Announces a New Path to Sainthood

Conor Gaffey - Newsweek
go to original
July 14, 2017

Mother Teresa Was No Saint: The mainstream narrative is that she was benevolent and compassionate, the historical facts suggest otherwise. (teleSUR English)

It’s not easy to become a saint in the Catholic Church.

Until now, there have only been three paths to canonization - the church’s saint-making process - in the world’s largest Christian denomination: by dying for the faith (or martyrdom), by living a life of “heroic virtue” (like Mother Theresa) or in “exceptional cases,” where someone has been venerated as a holy person from ancient times and this is taken as evidence of their saintliness.

But now, Pope Francis has opened up a fourth path to sainthood: giving up your life for another person.

In a letter published on Tuesday in Latin and Italian by the Vatican, the Argentine pope wrote that “those Christians are worthy of special consideration and honor who, following in the footsteps and teaching of Jesus, have offered their life voluntarily and freely for others and have persevered in this to death,” according to a translation of the letter by Catholic magazine America.

The pope’s letter means that someone who voluntarily dies in place of another person can be considered for beatification - a process that declares the subject “blessed” and is a precursor to being made a saint - and canonization.

Francis wrote that the new means of becoming a saint came with four essential conditions:

The person must give up their life freely, and this act must lead to premature death.

The candidate must have lived a life of Christian virtue, though not necessarily to the extraordinary degree of someone like Mother Theresa.

There must be the “existence of the fame of sanctity and of signs [of holiness]” after the person’s death. In other words, Christians must venerate them as a holy person.

In order to become a saint, a miracle must be attributed to prayers offered to the individual after their death. Verified miracles are a standard criteria for saints to be made in the Catholic Church; for example, Pope John Paul II was canonized for the allegedly miraculous cure of a French nun who suffered from Parkinson’s disease.

Possible candidates for sainthood under the new pathway would include, for example, Christians who work with people infected with a contagious disease and later die because of that disease, according to an article in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.

Read the rest at Newsweek

Related: The Mafia May Have to Choose Between "the Family" and the Catholic Church, if Pope Francis Gets His Way (Newsweek)

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