10 March 2016, The Tablet

Pope approves new transparency rules for the creation of saints

Critics say system needs overhaul after book revealed cost of creating a saint was €750,000

New rules on the funding of sainthood causes have been approved by Pope Francis. He has given provisional approval for a set of norms on the management of funds relating to investigations for those being put forward as saints. 

They are designed to increase transparency, ensure detailed accounting and create "disciplinary procedures" in the case of mismanagement, according to Vatican Radio. 

A book last year on leaked financial documents from the Holy See revealed that officials promoting sainthood causes were handling hundreds of thousands of euros without any oversight on how the money was spent. 

Gianluigi Nuzzi estimated that the average cost of a beatification cause was around €500,000 with some going as high as €750,000. 

The process of making someone a saint is a laborious and costly process which starts with the compiling of evidence at the local church level. Details of a sainthood candidate’s life is brought together in a document, often thousands of pages long, that is then presented to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome. 

Rome then assesses if the individual can be declared "venerable" or of "heroic virtue". The next step is beatification which, if the candidate is not a martyr, requires a miracle with theologians and doctors called in to examine evidence of healings. While exceptions can be made, two miracles are then required to declare someone a saint.

The new norms also provide for the creation of a "solidarity fund" which can give money to "promoters" of causes who appeal for financial help. The congregation in Rome will evaluate each case. 



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