The causes of saints

Source: FSSPX News


Up to the present day, John Paul II has canonized 483 saints, 402 of whom were martyrs, and has beatified 1,337 people, of whom 1,031 were martyrs. Thus, on average, the pope has proclaimed 54 blesseds and 19 saints per year since the beginning of his pontificate. Before him, only 302 saints and 1201 blesseds were declared by all the previous popes put together.

In 2002, there were 2,000 “candidates” for sainthood awaiting the outcome of their causes. In spite of agreed efforts to encourage local churches by offering blesseds or saints often already considered as national heroes, a blatant imbalance has been remarked upon in the causes under investigation at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. In fact, almost half (1000) of the causes pending are Italian and a quarter (500) are Spanish, while the remaining quarter is made up mainly of French, Polish and South American causes.

Even today, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints is inundated with ever more demands for opening new causes, since John Paul II has rendered the process much easier, making himself the spokesman of the “universal call to sanctity” launched by Vatican II, at the risk of trivializing the whole thing.

Today, critics actually go as far as to talk of “inflation” in the number of candidates. The harshest of these critics liken these ceremonies to a “saint factory.” Cardinal José Maria Saraiva Martins, current prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, is far from sharing this view. He responds, in refutation of this analysis: “This does not in any way mean mass production.” The objective is to put forward wholly divers examples “of heroes of Christian sanctity.”

Mass canonizations and beatifications, controversial or not, surprising or not, “arbitrary” or “legitimate”? A problem remains, and by no means the least: a canonization is not within the means of everyone, even if John Paul II’s reform has reduced the cost. It is worth knowing that a process for beatification alone costs on average around €50,000. To which must be added other costs, between €100 and €1000 for the decrees, not to mention the costs linked to compensation of lay people working on a cause.

As well as these costs, which double if the cause goes on to canonization, the organization of the ceremony must be paid for even if, in order to limit the costs, several persons may be beatified or canonized at the same celebration. By way of example, the recent canonization ceremony of Josémaria Escriva de Balaguer, founder of Opus Dei, cost around €300,000. (Source APIC)