Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Vatican to Tighten Standards for Beatification

Vatican, Feb. 13, 2008 ( - The Vatican will soon release new norms for beatification and canonization, calling upon diocesan bishops to show "greater sobriety and rigor" in opening causes.

The new norms are expected to cut down on the number of causes presented to the Vatican for consideration. Diocesan bishops-- who preside over the intial investigations into the lives of candidates who died in their dioceses-- will be asked to set high standards for evidence demonstrating that the candidate's life was marked by outstanding virtue. A diocesan inquiry concludes with a dossier that is forwarded to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which then conducts its own investigation of the case.

The pontificate of Benedict XVI has seen a decrease in the number of beatifications and canonizations approved by the Vatican, after the record-setting pontificate of John Paul II. Shortly after his election, Pope Benedict indicated that he would preside only at canonization ceremonies, in order to emphasize the distinction between beatification and canonization.

A 20-page document, scheduled for release by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, entitled Sanctorum Mater, will be introduced to the media at a press conference on February 18, with Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, the prefect of the Congregation, chairing the session. The Spanish cardinal will be joined at the press conference by Archbishop Michele Di Ruberto and Msgr. Marcello Bartolucci, the secretary and under-secretary, respectively.

In related news, Cardinal Saraiva Martins has denounced the sale of relics on Ebay, the internet auction site, as a “sacrilegious business.” Church law forbids the sale of relics.


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