28 November 2009

Recognizing a Saint: Part 2 of 5

28 NOVEMBER 2009. This second installment in the series on the process of sainthood is an examination of how the Church declares a person to be a Servant of God.

The process of canonization--by which an individual is officially recognized by the Church as a saint--begins at the diocesan level. A bishop who has jurisdiction over the person whose life will be examined for recognition as a saint (the candidate), usually the bishop of the place where the candidate died or is buried (although another ordinary may be given this authority), must give permission for an investigation to be opened into the virtues of the candidate. This is normally done at the request of the members of the faithful or the bishop may decide to open the investigation ex officio on behalf of the faithful.

The diocesan investigation cannot be opened for the first five years after a person has died. However, the Pope has the authority to waive the five-year waiting period, as was done by the great Pope John Paul II for Mother Teresa of Calcutta and by Pope Benedict XVI for his predecessor, Servant of God Pope John Paul II.

Normally, a guild, organization, or the candidate's religious order will promote the cause of the candidate's sainthood. An exhaustive search is made of the candidate's writings, speeches, and sermons and a detailed biography is written and eyewitness accounts of the candidate's life are gathered. When a sufficient body of information is gathered about the candidate's life, all of the information gathered at the diocesan level about the Servant of God is presented by the jurisdictional ordinary to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Once at the curia, a postulator is appointed to continue to gather information about the Servant of God. Religious orders that deal regularly with the Congregation for the Causes of Saints have their own designated postulator general. Father Vito Thomas Gomez, O.P., is the Postulator General for Dominican causes.

A Servant of God is not yet a saint. He or she has no feast day, and no veneration in public worship is yet allowed. The Servant of God, though, is on the way to sainthood.

The following Servants of God likely includes names you recognize:

Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul I
Dorothy Day
Archbishop Fulton Sheen
Louisa Piccarreta

The next step in the Church's process of canonization is for the Servant of God to be declared Venerable, which will be described in the next installment in this series.

No comments:

Post a Comment