By Elvis, SX
On August 1st, 2012, the Loyola School of Theology organized a Theological Hour with the topic MAKING SAINTS. The topic was presented by Father Robert Godding, teacher at the same School.
The choice of the topic was inspired by the imminent canonization (October 21, 2012) of the 2nd Filipino Saint, Pedro Calungsod. However, the speaker focused on the history and the process of MAKING SAINTS (Canonization).
Starting from some great figures that we have in our Church, he showed that the “Saints make the Church” in the sense that they become inspiration and responses to the challenges of their time. In a few words, they internalized Jesus himself, making him visible through the Church. On the other hand, the “Church makes the Saints” in the sense that it recognizes who is worthy being considered a saint for the whole Church.
Throughout the centuries, the first condition to be canonized has always been the “Fama sanctatis” which is a vast and spontaneous movement, admiration, devotion and confident invocation among the faithful and seen as a sign from God.
Again, the Church has always been there to verify the authenticity of that “fama”. During the first millennium of our Church, the local Church was the one to recognize her saints by acclamation (sancto subito). Here, he reminded us the fact that most of the saints of the first centuries were martyrs, hence, no other signs were required from them.
In the middle Ages, things begin to change and the recognition of saints moved from the local Church to the Roman canonization but only for the sake of greater prestige from the Pope. It is in 1234 that Pope Gregory IX set up new rules and from that time on, the canonization became a “pontifical reserve”. At that time, the procedure of canonization was very rigorous, slow, too formal and extremely expensive compared to nowadays. At present, the process of canonization became faster and more effective. This change has been made possible by the creation of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints by Pope Paul VI in 1969. Furthermore, Pope John Paul II made the process faster and less rigorous through his encyclical Divinus Perfectionnis Magister (1983). As fruit, 1340 blessed have been beatified and 483 saints canonized in the pontificate of John Paul II.
In the end, the speaker raised some practical questions about this process of canonization such as the fact that this process is still expensive (500,000$ or more) preventing the saints from poor countries from being canonized. For him, the canonization should become more lay and less religious because the experience has shown that the bigger and more powerful the Order, the more saints it will get. One of his suggestions is to demand Congregations promoting their saints, to support causes of lay people and from poor countries.
He concluded reaffirming that the Church needs true contemporary saints who can inspire the next generation of Christians to live their faith in this world and not escape in a dream.