Pope John Paul II has always had a reputation for being the pope who canonized people most liberally: reducing the number of miracles required for beatification and sainthood, abbreviating the wait time after a candidate's death, and naming more saints than all his predecessors combined.
I am beginning to wonder, however, whether Pope Francis is going to outdo him in saint-making bravado, if not in numbers.
Take a look at a list of the saints Francis has canonized since the beginning of his pontificate. As of this printing, there are 10. What is striking is that six of them – more than half – were canonized without the two requisite miracles.
Moreover, the Vatican has just announced that another saint, Giuseppe Vaz of Sri Lanka, will also have his second miracle waived.
The pope is using an 18th-century process known as "equivalent canonization". It allows people to become saints not on the basis of miracles, but because of a long-standing cult, of the "constant and common attestation" of a virtuous life, and of an "uninterrupted reputation for wonders."
According to Cardinal Angelo Amato of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the process, "though not frequent, is not rare".
It was used most recently by Pope Benedict XVI in the case of Hildegard of Bingen, whom he also made a doctor of the church. Yet it is increasingly in vogue under Pope Francis, who may soon hold the honor of making more saints by equivalent canonization than all of his predecessors combined.
This is fitting for a pope who has insisted that the church be of the poor. The saint-making process – with its drawn-out inquiries and trials – is notoriously expensive, and usually only dioceses and religious orders with some financial means are capable of launching these protracted canonization campaigns. This has resulted in an underrepresentation of saints among the laity and in some less traditionally Catholic countries around the world.
This discrepancy has caught Francis’ attention. Meeting a Cambodian woman in South Korea, for instance, he reportedly promised to speak to "my friend Angelo" about the dearth of native Cambodian saints.
Acting on executive order like this could help to democratize the process for smaller churches eager to see their local blesseds recognized.
Source: National Catholic Reporter