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Wednesday, 07 February 2018 00:00

Phases of the Beatification and Canonization process

1. a)   The actor, also known as the petitioner, advances the cause of canonization. Any member of the People of God or any group of the faithful recognized by ecclesiastical authority can exercise this function.

    b) The petitioner works on the cause through a legitimately appointed postulator.

 2. a) The postulator is appointed by a mandate of powers drawn up according to the norm of law with the approval of the bishop.

    b) During the time the cause is before the Sacred Congregation, the postulator, duly approved by that Congregation, must have a permanent residence in Rome.

3. a) Postulators may be priests, members of institutes of consecrated life, or lay persons. All must be experts in theology, law, and history, as well as the norms of the Sacred Congregation.

    b) It is the primary task of the postulator to investigate the life of the Servant of God whose cause it is, to learn about his reputation of sanctity and the ecclesial importance of the cause, and to inform the bishop.

    c) The postulator is also tasked with the administration of the assets offered for the cause according to the norms of the Sacred Congregation.

4. The postulator has the right to be substituted by others who are known as vice-postulators, according to a legitimate mandate and with the agreement of the petitioners.

5. a) The Bishop whose competence it is to instruct causes of canonization is the one in whose territory the Servant of God died, unless particular circumstances, recognized as such by the Sacred Congregation, suggest otherwise.

    b) In the case of an alleged miracle, the competent Bishop is the one in whose territory the event took place.

6. a) The Bishop can instruct the cause either personally or through his delegate, who must be a priest truly expert in theological, canonical, and in the case of ancient causes, also historical matters.

    b) The priest who is chosen as the promotor of justice must have the same qualities.

    c) All officials who take part in the cause must take an oath to faithfully fulfill their duty and are bound to secrecy.

7. A cause can be recent or ancient. It is called recent if the martyrdom or virtues of the Servant of God can be proven by the oral depositions of eye witnesses. It is ancient when the proof of martyrdom or virtues can be brought to light only from written sources. 

8. Whoever intends to initiate a cause of canonization is to present to the competent Bishop, through the postulator, a written petition requesting the instruction of the cause. 

9. a) In recent causes, the petition must be presented no sooner than five years after the death of the Servant of God.

    b) If it is presented after 30 years, the Bishop may not proceed further unless, after careful investigation, he is convinced that there was no fraud in the case or deceit on the part of the petitioners in delaying the initiation of the cause.

10.  Together with the written petition, the postulator must present:

    1. For both recent and ancient causes, a biography of a certain hhistorical value on the Servant of God, should it exist; or otherwise, an accurate chronological report on the life and activities of the Servant of God, on his virtues or martyrdom, on his reputation of holiness and miracles, without omitting what may seem contrary or unfavorable to the Cause [1];

    2. Authentic copies of all the published writings of the Servant of God;  

    3. For recent causes only, a list of persons who can contribute to ascertaining the truth about the virtues or martyrdom of the Servant of God, and about his reputation of sanctity or of miracles, or refute them.

    11. a) Once the petition has been accepted, the Bishop is to consult with the Conference of Bishops, at least of that region, about the appropriateness of initiating the cause.

    b) The Bishop is to make public of the postulator in his own diocese and, if he thinks it is advisable, in other dioceses, with the permission of their respective Bishops, and invite all the faithful to bring to his attention any useful information regarding the cause.

12. a) If an obstacle of significant importance against the cause emerges from the information he has received, the Bishop must notify the postulator so that he can remove that obstacle.

    b) If the obstacle has not been removed and the Bishop judges that the cause should not proceed, he is to advise the postulator giving the reasons for his decision.

13. If the Bishop intends to initiate the cause, he is to seek the vote of two theological censors on the published writings of the Servant of God. These censors are to report whether anything is found in the writings contrary to faith and good morals. [2]

14. a) If the votes of the theological censors are favorable, the Bishop is to order that all the writings of the Servant of God, unpublished as well as each and every historical document, either manuscript or published, which in any way pertain to the cause, be gathered. [3]

    b) When such a search is to be made, especially in the case of ancient causes, experts in historical and archival matters are to carry it out.

    c) After the task has been completed, the experts are to hand over to the Bishop an accurate and precise report together with the collected writings. In this report, they are to state and guarantee that they fulfilled their duty properly; include a list of the writings and documents; express a judgment on their authenticity and value as well as on the personality of the Servant of God, as can be deduced from the same writings and documents.

15. a) Once the report has been received, the Bishop is to hand over to the promotor of justice or to another expert everything gathered up to that point so that he might prepare the interrogatories that will be useful in searching out and discovering the truth about the life of the Servant of God, his virtues or martyrdom, his reputation of holiness or of martyrdom.

    b) For ancient causes, interrogatories will only involve the reputation of sanctity or martyrdom still existing in the present as well as, if it be the case, the cult given to the Servant of God in more recent times.

    c) In the meantime, the Bishop is to send to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints a brief report on the life of the Servant of God and the importance of the cause, in order to ascertain whether there is any obstacle to the cause on the part of the Holy See.

16. a) Then the Bishop or his delegate is to examine the witnesses proposed by the postulator and others to be questioned ex officio. A Notary is to be employed to transcribe the deposition of the witness, which is to be confirmed by the witness himself at the end of his testimony.

    However, if it is urgent that witnesses be examined to prevent loss of any proofs, they are to be questioned even though the gathering of the documents has not yet been completed. [4]

    b) The promotor of justice is to participate in the examination of the witnesses. If they are not present, the acts are to be submitted afterwards for his examination so that he can make his observations and propose anything which he judges to be necessary and opportune.

    c) The witnesses are to be examined first regarding the interrogatories; afterward, the Bishop or his delegate should ask the witnesses other necessary or useful questions so that their statements may be clarified any difficulties which may have emerged may be plainly resolved and explained.

17. The witnesses must be eye witnesses; if the case warrants it, second-hand witnesses may be added. All, however, must be trustworthy.

18. The first witnesses to be presented will be blood relatives and other relatives of the Servant of God as well as others who have had familiarity with him and acquaintances.

19. In order to prove the martyrdom or the practice of virtues and the reputation of miracles of the Servant of God who belonged to an institute of consecrated life, a significant number of the proposed witnesses must be from outside the Institute unless, on account of the particular life of the Servant of God, this should prove impossible.

20. Those who cannot be witnesses are:

    1. A priest, with regard to all those things which were made known to him through the sacrament of Penance;

    2. Regular confessors or spiritual directors of the Servant of God, with regard also to all those things which they learned from the Servant of God in the forum of conscience outside the sacrament of Penance;

    3. The postulator of the cause, during his term as postulator.

21. a) The Bishop or his delegate is to call some witnesses ex officio who can contribute to the completion of the inquiry, if it be the case, particularly if they are opposed to the cause.

    b) The Bishop or his delegate is also to call as ex officio witnesses those experts who conducted the investigations of the documents and wrote the corresponding report. They must declare under oath:

    1. hat they conducted all the investigations and that they gathered all that which pertains to the cause;

    2. that they neither changed nor destroyed any document or text.

22. a) In the case of miraculous healings, the physicians who treated the patient are to be called as witnesses.

    b) If they refuse to appear before the Bishop or his delegate, the Bishop or his delegate is ensure that they write a report, under oath if possible, about the disease and its evolution, which is to be included in the acts, or at least ensure their opinion is heard by a third party, who is then to be examined.

23. The witness must declare the source of his knowledge of the facts that are the object of his testimony. Otherwise his testimony is to be considered null.

24. If the witness wishes to hand in a written declaration either at the time of his oral testimony or at another time, the Bishop or his Delegate may accept it, provided the witness sign it and declare under oath that he is its author and that what he has written is true. The written declaration must be included in the acts of the Inquiry.

25. a) In whatever way witnesses provide their information, the Bishop or his delegate must diligently authenticate it with his signature and seal.

    b) The documents and written testimony, whether gathered by the experts or handed over by others, are to be authenticated by the signature and seal of a notary or public official who will attest to its authenticity.

26. a) If inquiries regarding documents or witnesses must be made in another diocese, the Bishop or his delegate is to send a letter to the competent Bishop, who is to act according to the norm of these statutes.

    b) The acts of the of inquiry are to be kept in the archive of the Chancery and a copy, made according to the norm of nos. 29 and 30, is to be sent to the Bishop who requested the inquiry.

27. a) The Bishop or his delegate is to take the greatest care that in gathering proof, nothing is omitted which in any way pertains to the cause, knowing for certain that the positive outcome of a cause depends to a great extent on its good instruction.

    b) Once all the proofs have been gathered, the promotor of justice is to examine all the acts and documents so that, should he deem it necessary, he may request further inquiries.

    c) The postulator is also entitled to examine the acts so that, if it be the case, the proofs may be completed through new witnesses or documents.

28. a) Prior to the closing of the inquiry, the Bishop or his delegate must inspect the tomb of the Servant of God, the room where he lived and/or died, and other possible places where signs of unlawful cult may be found and make a declaration attesting to the fact that the Decrees of Urban VIII on the Absence of Cult. [5]

    b) A report is to be drawn up regarding everything that has been done and it is to be inserted into the acts. 

29. a) Once the instruction has been completed, the Bishop or his delegate is to order that a transcript be made unless, in light of proven circumstances, he has already permitted this to be done during the instruction phase.

    b) The transcript is to be drawn from the original acts and made in duplicate.

30. a) Once the transcript has been finished, a comparison is to be made with the original and the notary is to sign each page with at least his initials and affix his seal.

    b) The original, closed and sealed, is to be kept in the archive of the Chancery. 

31. a) The transcript of the inquiry and attached documents, duly  closed and sealed, are sent by a secure means to the Sacred Congregation in duplícate, together with a copy of the books of the Servant of God which were examined by the theological censors and their judgment. [6]

    b) If a translation of the acts and documents into a language accepted by the Sacred Congregation is necessary, two copies of the translation are to be prepared and declared authentic. These are to be sent to Rome with the transcript of the inquiry.

    c) Furthermore, the Bishop or his delegate is to send the Cardinal Prefect a letter testifying to the trustworthiness of the witnesses and the legitimacy of the acts.

32. The inquiry on miracles is to be instructed separately from the inquiry on virtues or martyrdom and is to be conducted according to the norms which follow. [7]

33. a) Once the Bishop competent according to norm no. 5b has accepted the petition of the postulator together with a brief but accurate report on the alleged miracle as well as pertinent documents, he is to ask for the judgment of one or two experts.

    b) If then he has decided to instruct a judicial inquiry, he is to examine all the witnesses either personally or through his delegate, according to the norms established above in nos. 15 a, 16-18 and 21-24.

34. a) In the case of a cure from some disease, the Bishop or his delegate is to seek help from a physician, who is to propose questions to the witnesses in order to clarify matters according to necessity and circumstances.

    b) If the person healed is still alive, he is to be examined by experts so that the duration of the healing can be ascertained. 

35. A transcript of the inquiry together with attached documents is to be sent to the Sacred Congregation according to nos. 29-32. 

36. Celebrations of any type or panegyric speeches about Servants of God whose sanctity of life is still being legitimately examined are prohibited in Churches.

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