Pope Francis announces a new way to become a saint

The phrase to choose the "right path" often comes up in common conversation, but when Pope Francis starts speaking about a "new path" all ears perk up.

Pope Francis has just signed a motu proprio opening sainthood to those who have died for others.

"They are worthy of special consideration and honor those Christians who, following more closely in the footsteps and teachings of the Lord Jesus, have willingly and freely offered their lives for others and persevered until death in this regard", the pope said in an apostolic letter he opened with John 15:13.

Until now, it required martyrdom, living a life of heroic values or having a clear saintly reputation.

This involves a free and voluntary offering of the person's life while heroically accepting, on account of the love of God, a certain and premature death for the good of others.

"It is certain that the heroic offering of life, suggested and supported by charity, expresses a true, full and exemplary imitation of Christ, and therefore deserves the admiration that the community of the faithful usually reserves to those who have voluntarily accepted the martyrdom of blood or have exercised in a heroic degree the Christian virtues", Francis continued. This is a major difference from the "martyrdom" category, which does not require a miracle.


The new path stipulates that a candidate must perform a miracle prior to beatification, which is a declaration by the Pope that the deceased is in a state of bliss, the first step toward being canonized as a saint.

Under the additional vitae oblatio, the person must still show Christian virtues before and until death.

But the pontiff has issued a decree which adds a new path. Verified miracles are a standard criteria for saints to be made in the Catholic Church; for example, Pope John Paul II was canonized for the allegedly miraculous cure of a French nun who suffered from Parkinson's Disease.

Kolbe was being held at Auschwitz during World War Two when he offered to take the place of a fellow prisoner due to be killed.

His sainthood cause began in 1955 and he was given the honour in 1982.


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