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Pope Francis Introduces New Criterion for Beatification

Now there’s another way for individuals to be considered candidates for beatifaction, thanks to a new criterion that Pope Francis introduced to accompany the three current criteria for beatification. In a July 11 story for Zenit, Anne Kurian reports that Pope Francis has issued the motu proprio Maijorem hac dilectionem, published July 11, which adds the criterion “the offering of life” to the beatification process.  

According to Kurian, this criterion is fulfilled when a “baptized person accepted a premature death for the service of others.” In the motu proprio, Kurian reports, “the Holy Father sets out the norms of this new way, which calls for the recognition of a miracle to make a Beatification possible.”  

Taking the motu proprio’s title from our Lord’s words in John 15:13—“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”—Pope Francis declares in the document, Kurian writes, that “Christians who have ‘voluntarily and freely offered their life for others and persevered to death in this regard’ are ‘worthy of consideration and honor,’” and therefore merit Beatification.  

With this new criterion, Kurian writes, Pope Francis makes explicit the Christian charity inherent in such an act of self-sacrifice.  

Quoting Pope Francis’s motu proprio, Kurian writes that “the offering of a heroic life, suggested and sustained by charity, expresses a true and exemplary imitation of Christ.”  

Until now, Kurian notes in her report, the Church had established three criteria to beatification: martyrdom, the demonstration of heroic Christian virtue, and equivalency – whereby “the pope confirms an already ancient devotion.” 

As requirements to fulfill this new criterion, Kurian writes, quoting from the motu proprio, “there must be ‘a link between the offering of life and a premature death,’ the exercise of virtues ‘at least in an ordinary measure’ before the offering, a reputation for sanctity ‘at least after death’ and a miracle due to the intercession of the Servant of God.”  

For the complete text of the motu proprio, visit the Vatican website page that contains Pope Francis’s documents.

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