Pope Francis on Thursday met some 400 members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Vatican Dicastery. In a discourse, the Pope exhorted them in the spirit with which the Congregation is asked to carry out its activities in examining the lives of candidates to beatification and canonization.
By Robin Gomes
The tasks of what are today called the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the Congregation for Divine Worship, had been carried out earlier by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, instituted over 4 centuries ago in 1588. Pope Saint Paul VI in 1969, Pope Francis said, split the Congregation into two dicasteries that have “two large areas that are clearly distinct”.
In the latest development, Pope Francis on Wednesday authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate 10 decrees regarding 33 candidates for beatification.
Holiness next door
Addressing the members of the congregation, Pope Francis said that the many beatifications and canonizations that have been celebrated in recent decades mean that saints are models and guides of Christian life, but they are not unreachable human beings.
In fact, he said, “they are people who have experienced the daily toil of existence with its successes and failures, finding in the Lord the strength to always get up and continue the journey.” He stressed the importance of measuring “our evangelical coherence with different types of holiness, since ‘each saint is a mission, planned by the Father to reflect and embody, at a specific moment in history, a certain aspect of the Gospel’”.
The witness of the Blesseds and Saints, the Pope said, enlightens, attracts and also questions us because it is the “Word of God” embodied in history and close to us. However, we must learn to “see holiness in the patient people of God”, because it is often hidden and almost imperceptible. In this regard, he spoke about parents who bring up their children with so much love, in the men and women who work to bring bread home, in the sick, in the elderly religious who continue to smile. “This is so often the holiness ‘of the next door’, of those who live close to us and are a reflection of the presence of God.”
The Pope exhorted the Congregation in its task of carrying out with scrupulousness and accuracy its investigative research into the martyrdom, heroic virtues, the offering of life and miracles of men and women candidates, in order clear the field of any ambiguity or doubt and achieve full certainty in the proclamation of their holiness.
Consultors, in the historical, theological and medical fields, are called to carry out their work with the full freedom of conscience and formulate the relevant judgments with mature reflection, impartially and without taking into account any conditioning, from whatever side they may come from. The Pope reminded them that the specific aims of the Causes are the glory of God and the spiritual good of the Church, which are closely linked to the search for truth and evangelical perfection.
Regarding postulators (promoters of candidates), the Pope said, they should not allow themselves to be guided by material visions and economic interests. They should not seek their personal affirmation and, above all, should avoid all that which is in contradiction with the meaning of the ecclesial work which they carry out. The postulators, he said, should never fail to be aware that the Causes of beatification and canonization are realities of a spiritual nature and not just procedural. “Therefore, they must be treated with great evangelical sensitivity and moral rigor,” the Pope said.
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