Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Pope Francis reforms the CCS

In his address opening the «Studium,» a comprehensive training program for the agents of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints (the “CCS”), Cardinal Angelo Amato, the Prefect of the CCS, disclosed on Monday, January 13, 2014 that Pope Francis has started to reform that institution.  In particular, Cardinal Amato revealed that Francis has imposed spending caps or “reference rates” which postulators of sainthood causes should use to assure an even playing field among the various “candidates” for the sainthood.  For years, many have groused that the process favors popes and founders or religious orders and other “superstars” of the Catholic world whose supporters can outspend lesser known but meritorious prospects who come from the third world or from more modest backgrounds, including the laity.  The costs associated with the process, which require a lengthy diocesan investigation, followed by a Roman inquest, and medical inquiries leading to the certification of miracles, among other things, have created such discrepancies.  By consulting these “reference rates,” postulators and CCS officials could presumably keep the spending in line and even the playing field.  The Cardinal also said that the CCS will accept donations for causes that favor the poor, so long as they meet the requirements of CCS rules.

Additionally, Card. Amato revealed that the CCS is to “reserve a ‘fast track’ for causes from Asia, Africa, the Americas, and from Eastern Europe,” as well as for the victims of the brutal persecution of Christians under Nazi and Communist regimes.  That move seems geared to countermand the perceived Western European advantage in the CCS.  Card. Amato said that Pope Francis has sought to open up avenues for the recognition of saints and blessed who may be lesser known, humble missionaries closer to the peripheries than to the limelight of the Catholic world close to Rome.  This seems particularly geared to spotlight the values of Pope Francis' pontificate, of a Church that goes out to the people, and which gives particular emphasis on mercy, helping the poor and the marginalized.

Finally, Card. Amato noted that Francis continues to reform by example.  Without drawing a direct comparison, Card. Amato stated that Pope Francis has been remarkably accessible to meet with Amato and discuss upcoming beatification decrees, and to give “pointers and suggestions” to enhance the CCS’ mission.  By contrast, Amato noted that certain causes before the CCS appear to languish because the parties on whose action the causes depend, including postulators, bishops, religious superiors and others, “seem to be absent.”  In those cases, the Pope’s diligence could provide an example.

The Cardinal did not speak about specific causes pending before the CCS, such as that of Archbishop Oscar A. Romero of El Salvador, over which Pope Francis is said to have intervened last year.  The Prefect did, however, comment on the upcoming canonization of the Blessed Pope John XXIII.  Amato said that, contrary to widespread reports, Pope John did not get a pass on the requirement of a second miracle, because there is an excess of reported miracles on file.  Apparently, Pope Francis merely waived the formal certification of any such miracles so that Pope John could be canonized alongside John Paul II this April.
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