Benedict XVI leaves beatification ceremonies to the Prefect for the Cause of Saints

Source: FSSPX News

Cardinal Jose Maria Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, will preside over the beatification of two religious in St. Peter’s Basilica on May 14, the American Franciscan Marie Anne Barbara Cope, better known by the name Marianne of Molokai (Hawaii), and the Spanish co-foundress of the Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Rosary, Sister Asuncion of the Heart of Jesus.

For the first time since 1971, the pope will not preside over this ceremony. This is not properly speaking a novelty, but this could mark a break with the practices of John-Paul II. Up until 1971, the popes did not preside over beatification ceremonies. That year, Pope Paul VI decided to personally preside over the beatification Mass for Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan who died in a concentration camp. Karl Wojtyla, then Cardinal-Archbishop of Krakow, concelebrated this mass.

For years, Vatican officials have considered returning to the liturgical practice prior to 1971 in order to underscore the difference between beatification and canonization. When someone is beatified, the pope permits members of the religious order to which he belonged and the faithful from the area from which he came to venerate him; while after a canonization, the saint should be venerated by the entire Church.

In 1989, in an interview with the Italian monthly 30 Days, Cardinal Ratzinger emphasized the necessity of returning to this distinction: “Making a distinction between beatification and canonization is something perfectly reasonable in order to show the difference between those who can serve as examples in a specific environment and those who have a message to give to the whole Church”. He said he had “the impression that today this distinction is not obvious”.