Pope Francis Adds A New Path To Sainthood

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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Pope Francis has added a new path to sainthood within the Catholic Church, the Vatican announced Tuesday.

Francis added this fourth path via a new law, or mutu proprio, called Maiorem Hac Dilectionem, which he created of his own initiative, according to an AP report. The law mandates that a member of the Catholic church may achieve sainthood by submitting themselves to a premature death for the good of others. Previously only three paths to sainthood existed within the church — martyrdom, living a life of heroic values, or having a substantiated saintly reputation. Each of those paths, including the newest, have certain requirements as defined by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.

Francis made the new law to cover cases of potential sainthood wherein a candidate may have both been a martyr and led a life of heroic values without satisfying all of the saintly requirements for either of those paths. The new path stipulates that a candidate must perform a miracle prior to beatification, which is a declaration by the Pope that the deceased is in a state of bliss, the first step toward being canonized as a saint. The initial three paths to sainthood “don’t seem sufficient to interpret all of the cases of possible saints to be canonized,” according to Marcello Bartolucci, an official of the Vatican’s Congregation of the Causes.

Candidates for sainthood who would qualify under the new path include mothers who carry their children to term even when doing so would bring the mother harm or death, as in the case of Chiara Corbella, and those who take the place of someone else condemned to die.

Pope John Paul II simplified the canonization process for potential saints, leading to the canonization of 482 saints, more saints than all of John Paul II predecessors combined, according to Catholic writer Tom Perna. Francis’ new law, however, is the first change to the major requirements for sainthood in centuries.

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