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Process of Canonization -3
Welcome to INSPIRING LIVES, a series on the lives of Saints in the catholic church from around the world. Saints are holy people who lived ordinary lives in extraordinary ways. These saints are examples of great holiness and virtue, and they invite us to follow their paths to holiness. Their unique stories inspire us to be rooted in our faith. God calls each one of us to be a saint.
In the last couple of years, we have witnessed several canonizations. These new saints of the church came from various walks of life – lay women, catechist, religious, priests and nuns. How do they become saints? What does the Catholic church do in canonizing people? I asked these and similar questions to Jesuit father Peter Gumpel, the first relator, or the investigating judge for the causes of saints, appointed by Pope John Paul II in 1983.
During the last two weeks, Fr. Gumpel explained the pastoral reasons for canonizing people – that is, to set examples of Christian living before the people of God. The process of canonization begins in a particular diocese where the candidate for sainthood died and where exist a widespread feeling among the people that the person lived a holy life. Then on request, the local bishop decides to start the process, technically called ‘introducing the cause’. Once the testimonies of the witnesses and observations of the historians are recorded by the diocesan tribunal, the process moves on to Rome where the documents are synthesized and reduced to essential points and presented to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. This document – positio – is submitted to 3 tribunals for judgment – Historians, Theologians, and finally a tribunal of Cardinals and bishops. All these tribunals work in advisory capacity to the Pope. The only definitive judge is Pope himself who signs the decree proclaiming a person saint.
Listen: Q. Fr. Gumpel, tell us the process of canonizing martyrs and non-martyrs?
Q. After the doctors have given their judgment, what happens next?
Q. What about the titles like servant of God, etc?
Q. What is the difference between beatification and canonization?
That’s was the third and concluding part of an interview with Jesuit Father Gumpel, an investigating judge for the causes of saints in the Catholic Church.
xxxYou have been listening to INSPIRING LIVES, a weekly series based on the lives of Catholic Saints from around the world. Today we heard the stages in the process of canonization, brought to you by Vatican Radio’s English Service for South Asia.
By P.J. Joseph SJ
FRIDAY, 13 December 2013