Becoming a saint in Catholicism is no easy feat, and for good reason. Sainthood is reserved only for those who exemplify Christian values.
Under Pope Francis, 38 people have been canonized, or made saints. Mother Teresa received sainthood in 2016, and the most recent saints were Saint Francisco and Saint Jacinta, from Portugal. They were canonized in May of 2017. The brother and sister duo witnessed apparitions of the Angel of Peace and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In the past, there were three categories that could give someone a path to sainthood:
- being killed for the faith (martyrdom)
- living a life heroically of Christian virtues
- having a strong reputation for religious devotion
However, Pope Francis has made a large change to the criteria required for sainthood.
In an official letter from his Holiness, this change is considered "one of the most significant changes in centuries to the Roman Catholic Church's saint-making procedures."
Keep reading to find out what the new criteria for sainthood entails.
According to Archbishop Marcello Batolucci, these changes are intended "to promote heroic Christian testimony, (that has been) up to now without a specific process, precisely because it did not completely fit within the case of martyrdom or heroic virtues." Bartolucci added that the previous categories were insufficient "for interpreting all possible cases."
The new criteria are as follows:
- The individual must freely and voluntarily offer their life in the face of "a certain and soon-to-come death"
- There must be a "close relation" between "the offering of one's life and the premature death of the one who offers it."
- The person must show Christian virtues, at least to an ordinary extent, before and after offering their life.
- They must have a "reputation for holiness" at least after their death.
- They must have performed a miracle. This is a major difference from the "martyrdom" category, which does not require a miracle.
The Associated Press reports "examples of people who might fall into [the first category] include those who take the place of someone condemned to death or expectant mothers with fatal diseases who suspend treatment so their babies can be born."
Do you think it's acceptable for Pope Francis to have changed the criteria for canonization?