My internet friends know I’m a severe critic of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. This story is catching some traction in the blogosphere, but I hope what caught my eye was just a reporter’s inaccuracy:
Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, head of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, said the instructions were needed to reflect the “new spirit introduced by Pope Benedict XVI in beatification procedures.”
The cardinal spoke in an interview published Jan. 8 by the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, under the headline: “More precision will be asked in diocesan canonization processes.”
The local diocese offers much more hope for lay people, including married couples, to be recognized for the saintliness with which they enrich the Church. For the lay pipeline to tighten while the spigots of religious orders flows freely strikes me as a prejudice. At worst, it is a particular blindness of the Holy Father, if indeed these changes were drawn up at his request.
This isn’t to say I object to the saintly founders of religious orders being formally recognized. But I think rank-and-file Catholics are more in need of patrons who have lived as they lived. I’m talking about parents, lawyers, doctors, architects, musicians, artists, athletes, teachers, laborers, and maybe even business owners. In particular, children and young people need heroes that urge them to holiness where they are.
Perhaps it would be prudent to remove most of the saints’ causes from the curia. At the very least, national conferences could discern people of holiness. The diocesan bishop, perhaps, should also have the authority to add saints to the local calendar, perhaps in advance of sending the case to the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. A demonstrated local devotion would assist the discussion and might give further evidence of the saint’s intercession.
Some saints are made for the world: Mother Teresa and John Paul II. Others like the Spanish Civil War martyrs are more for their own nation. Mother Guerin seems a great patron for the order she founded, and for the people she touched in Indiana. Every diocese needs a few people like that. And why should religious orders wait for the go-ahead from Rome? Many already keep special liturgical calendars.
That’s why my sense is thumbs down on this initial report. We need more saints, not fewer. And we don’t need Rome to confirm every one of them.