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Last Updated: Monday, 18 February 2008, 19:27 GMT
Vatican slows sainthood process
Portuguese Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, during a Mass on 28 October, 2007
Cardinal Martins has called for more rigour and sobriety in the process
The Vatican has issued new rules making the route to sainthood more difficult.

Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins demanded more rigour in the Catholic Church's process of verifying saints.

Cardinal Martins, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, issued new guidelines to clarify and modernise the procedure.

He stressed the need for a "true reputation for holiness" among sainthood candidates to be established before the process begins.

The Portuguese prelate suggested not enough rigour had been applied in the past when bishops forwarded cases to the Vatican.

'Saint factory'

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints makes exhaustive enquiries into the lives of men and women proposed for official sainthood.

BEATIFICATION PROCESS
Beatification requires that a miracle has occurred
Group approaches local bishop
After Rome's approval an investigation is launched
Findings are sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
Case is presented to the Pope
Blessed may be accorded a feast day
Relics of the candidate may be venerated in local diocese
Canonisation (actual sainthood) requires proof of a second miracle

Critics have suggested the department has become what they call a "saint factory", overwhelmed by the high number of applicants for sainthood which are originally suggested at local level.

There are more than 2,200 dossiers pending, some of which have been on file for decades, even centuries, says the BBC's David Willey in Rome.

Pope Benedict XVI's predecessor, Pope John Paul II, beatified more people than all his predecessors put together.

In his 27-year pontificate he beatified more than 1,338 people and canonised 482.

Fast-tracked

Pope Benedict has tried to restrict the numbers of men and women who are proposed as role models for saintly life in the 21st Century, our correspondent says.

Pope John Paul II
The current Pope has fast-tracked the sainthood cause of John Paul II

But even he has fast-tracked some candidates for sainthood, notably John Paul II himself.

The case of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the Salvadorian church leader who was gunned down while celebrating Mass in 1980, and is already venerated as a Saint and miracle worker in Latin America, has been put on hold while further investigations are made.

To put Archbishop Romero on the path to sainthood, Cardinal Martins said the Church must first determine that he was killed for religious reasons rather than political ones.

Cardinal Martins also denied reports that the case of Pope Pius XII had been halted, and defended the wartime Pope against accusations that he was silent about the Holocaust.



SEE ALSO
Pope Benedict names four saints
15 Oct 06 |  Europe
Pope canonises pro-life heroine
16 May 04 |  Europe

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