VATICAN CITY – The Vatican is preparing to issue a set of instructions to promote “greater caution and more accuracy” in the opening of new sainthood causes by local dioceses, a top Vatican official said.
Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, head of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, said the instructions were needed to reflect the “new spirit introduced by Pope Benedict XVI in beatification procedures.”
The cardinal spoke in an interview published Jan. 8 by the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, under the headline: “More precision will be asked in diocesan canonization processes.”
Cardinal Saraiva Martins said the new document will be addressed to all resident bishops, instructing them on procedures regarding the opening and advancement of sainthood causes. It will underline how the “theology of the local church” is manifested in such causes, he said.
The cardinal said the beatification of a local member represents an intense moment of faith and joy for church communities.
“But precisely because of this new value and this additional fervor implied by such events, it is necessary to proceed with even greater caution and more accuracy,” he said.
He said the new document would probably be formally presented to journalists at the Vatican press office. The congregation also intends to bring the new instructions to the attention of the hundreds of postulators who guide sainthood causes, possibly through a day of study, he said.
Asked if the new instructions would help put an end to stories about the church’s “saint factories,” Cardinal Saraiva Martins said the term does not even merit a response. The church does not make saints; it merely follows procedures so that they are recognized, he said.