Texts, speeches, homilies
12 July 2017
Translation of Apostolic Letter approving new path to sainthood
Working translation of Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio “maiorem hac dilectionem” on the Offer of Life
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15,13)
They are worthy of special consideration and honour those Christians who, following closely the footsteps and teachings of the Lord Jesus, have offered voluntarily and freely their life for others and have preserved this purpose until death.
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 that admiration that the community of the faithful usually reserves for those who voluntarily have accepted bloody martyrdom or have shown in a heroic manner the Christian virtues.
With the comfort of the favorable opinion expressed by the Congregation of the Cases of Saints, which in the Plenary Session of the 27th of September 2016 have carefully studied if these Christians deserve beatification, I establish that the following norms should be observed:
The offer of life is a new case of the “iter” (process) of beatification and canonization, separate from the case on the martyrdom and on the heroism of the virtues
The offer of life, in order that it is valid and effective for the beatification of a Servant of God, needs to respond to the following criteria:
- Free and voluntary offer of life and heroic acceptance propter caritatem of a short term and certain death;
Link between the offer of life and the premature death;
- Practicing, at least at an ordinary level, of the Christian virtues before the offer of life and, then, until death;
- Existence of the fame of sanctity and of signs, at least after death;
- Necessity of the miracle for beatification, occurring after the death of the Servant of God and by his intercession
The celebration of the diocesan or eparchial Inquiry and the relative Positio are regulated by the apostolic Constitution Divinus perfectionis Magister of the 25th of January 1983, in Acta Apostolicae Sedis Vol. LXXV (1983, 349-355), and from the Normae servandae in inquisitionibus ab Episcopis facendis in Causis Sanctorum of the 7th of February of the same year, in Acta Apostolicae Sedis Vol. LXXV (1983, 396- 403), except for the following.
The Positio on the offer of life needs to respond to the dubium: An constet de heroica oblatione vitae usque ad mortem propter caritatem necnon de virtutibus christianis, saltem in gradu ordinario, in casu et ad effectum de quo agitur.
The following articles of the cited Apostolic Constitution are modified as follows:
“To the diocesan Bishops, the Eparchs and to those who are equated in their right, in the scope of their jurisdiction, both in office and at request of singular faithful individuals or of legitimate association of their representatives, have the right to investigate about the life, the virtues, the offer of life or of the martyrdom and the fame of sanctity, the offer of life or the martyrdom, on the alleged miracles, and eventually on the worship of the ancient Servant of God, for who the canonization is being requested”.
“The Inquiry on the alleged miracles is done separately from that on the virtues, on the offer of life or on the martyrdom”.
“Studying the given cases with the external collaborators and preparing the Positiones on the virtues, on the offer of life or on the martyrdom”.
“If the Congress judges that the case has been in accordance to the norms of the law, it will entrust it to one of the “Relatori”: the “Relatore”, in turn, aided by an external collaborator, will do the Positio on the virtues, the offer of life or the martyrdom, according to the rules of the hagiographic critic”.
The following articles from the cited Normae servandae in inquisitionibus ab Episcopi facendis in Causis Sanctorum are modified as follows:
“The case can be recent or ancient; it is considered recent, if the martyrdom, the virtues, or the offer of life of the Servant of God can be proven through legal oral declarations of eye witnesses; it is considered ancient when the proofs relative to the martyrdom or the virtues can be deduced only through written sources”.
“In the cases, both recent and ancient, a biography on the Servant of God of a certain historical significance, if existing, or, in absence, an accurate chronological report on the life and activities of the Servant of God, on the virtues or the offer of life or the martyrdom, on the fame of sanctity and of miracles, without omitting what can seem contrary or less favorable to the case itself”
“Only in the recent cases, a list of people who can contribute to the investigation of the truth on the virtues or the offer of life or on the martyrdom of the Servant of God, like also the fame of sanctity and the miracles, or challenge it”
“On receiving the report, the Bishop hands to the promoter of justice or to another expert all that has been acquired until that moment, so that the interrogators can be prepared to investigate and shed light on the truth on the life, the virtues, the offer of life or martyrdom, the fame of sanctity, the offer of life or martyrdom of the Servant of God”.
“In the ancient cases the interrogators should consider only the fame of sanctity, the offer of life or martyrdom still present and, if it is the case, the worship towards the Servant of God in more recent times”.
“To prove the martyrdom, the practicing of the virtues or the offer of life and the fame of miracles of a Servant of God that belonged to some institute of consecrated life, the witnesses presented need to be, partly notable, strangers; unless that is impossible due to the particular life of the Servant of God”.
“The Inquiry on the miracles needs to be done separately from the inquiry on the virtues, the offer of life or the martyrdom and it should be done according to the following norms” .
“It is prohibited for churches to do celebrations of any kind that or panegyrics on the Servant of God, whose sanctity of life is still subject to legitimate examination. But also outside the church actions must be avoided that could induce the faithful to feel wrongly that the inquiry, done by the bishop on the life and the virtues, the martyrdom or the offer of life of the Servant of God, can bring with certainty the future canonisation of the Servant of God”.
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