Reports on the Vatican’s new 86-page document on the procedures for canonization may have left some Catholics (and their non-Catholic friends) scratching their heads. Essentially, the Congregation for the Causes of saints, responding to widespread concern that the saint-making process had gotten watered down under the pontificate of John Paul II, reminded the church of the already rigorous standards for canonization. (John Paul beatified and canonized more people than all of his predecessors combined, since the current regulations took effect in 1588.) The document called, for example, for "greater sobriety and rigor" on the part of local bishops when proposing candidates to Rome. Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation, said bluntly that "some aspects" of the process of investigating the miracles needed for beatification and canonization had proved "problematic." Here’s a good piece from the Times of London: "Pope Sets Down Stricter Criteria" But, in general, the same standards remain in place, though they have now been tightened. Dunderheaded headlines from some newspapers probably served only to confuse people. "Crackdown on new saints," wrote the Edmonton Sun. (Watch your back, Mother Teresa!) The worst, though, was from the Denver Sun: "Becoming a Saint Gets Tougher as Vatican Stresses ’Holiness.’" Apparently holiness wasn’t factored in before. And you have to love those quotation marks. James Martin, S.J.
"Crackdown on New Saints"