02/18/2008, 00.00
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Vatican document calls for greater rigour in beatification process

Card José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, explains that it is not about a new, more rigorous law but rather about a more rigorous implementation of an existing law. During Benedict XVI’s pontificate beatifications have increased. Prelate talks about the cases of Pius XII and John Paul II.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – More accurate implementation by bishops of the directives that govern the process of beatification is the goal set by the instruction Sanctorum Mater presented today by Card José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Approved on 23 February 2007 by Benedict XVI, the document is thus not a “new, more rigorous law, but a more rigorous implementation of the existing law.”

Divided in six parts, the instruction “meticulously describes all the steps bishops must follow to start and complete the diocesan phase of the process of beatification,” said the cardinal.

In the first part he stressed “the need for an authentic fame for sanctity to start the process”. In the second and third he describe the preliminary phase and the celebration of the cause. In the fourth and fifth he looked at the procedures that must be followed to collect all the documentary and testimonial evidence. Lastly in the sixth part the prelate focused on the steps that finalise the diocesan inquiry.

Card Saraiva Martins also used the press briefing to talk about processes of beatification and canonisation currently underway or just concluded.

He noted that during Benedict XVI’s pontificate 577 people have been proclaimed blessed or saints.

“This is a significant number if you consider that in two years and half of pontificate they are about a third of all those created by John Paul II in 27 years,” the cardinal pointed out.

The prelate then highlighted how renewing the tradition of holding beatification ceremonies in the Blessed’s country has led to more faithful taking part in the event.

“In one ceremony in Mexico there were 80,000 people in a stadium. It is certain that they would not have made it to Rome.”

Finally, in looking at some causes currently underway, Card Saraiva Martins said that as far as the one involving John Paul II, Benedict XVI has only derogated from the established rule that imposes a five-year waiting period following death for the process to start—everything else is following normal procedures.

In the case of Pius XII, who died 50 years ago this year, there will be many occasions to reflect upon his role as a “protagonist” of history. In the meantime it is fair to say that in relation to the Shoah, his attitude was not one “of silence but of prudence”, adopted in order to avoid an even greater persecution of the Jews.

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