SPEECH OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE CAUSES OF SAINTS
Thursday, 12 December 2019
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am pleased to meet with the great family of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which carries out its work in the service of the universal Church in recognition of the holiness of those who have faithfully followed Christ. I affectionately greet Cardinal Angelo Becciu, Prefect of the Dicastery, and thank him for his words. I greet the Cardinals and Bishops Members; the Secretary Mons. Marcello Bartolucci, the Undersecretary, the Officials, the Consultors and the Postulators.
It is a significant occasion that motivates our meeting today: the Congregation for the Causes of Saints completes this year half a century of life. Indeed, on 8 May 1969 St. Paul VI decided to replace the Congregation of the Sacred Rites with two Dicasteries: the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the Congregation for Divine Worship. With this decision he allowed to devote adequate resources of people and work to two clearly distinct large areas, to better correspond both to the ever more numerous requests of the particular Churches and to the conciliar sensibility.
In this half century of activity, your Congregation has examined a large number of biographical and spiritual profiles of men and women, to present them as models and guides of Christian life. The many beatifications and canonizations that have been celebrated in recent decades mean that the saints are not unreachable human beings, but are close to us and can support us in the journey of life. In fact, "they are people who have experienced the daily toil of existence with its successes and its failures, finding in the Lord the strength to always get up and continue the journey" (Angelus, 1 November 2019). And it is important to measure our evangelical coherence with different types of holiness, since "every saint is a mission; it is a project of the Father to reflect and incarnate, at a specific moment in history, an aspect of the Gospel "(Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate, 19).
The testimony of the Blessed and Saints enlightens us, attracts us and also puts us in question, because it is "word of God" embodied in history and close to us. Holiness permeates and always accompanies the life of the pilgrim Church over time, often in a hidden and almost imperceptible way. Therefore, we must learn to "see holiness in God's patient patient: in parents who grow their children with so much love, in men and women who work to bring bread at home, in the sick, in elderly women who continue to smile . [...] This is so many times the holiness "of the next door", of those who live near us and are a reflection of the presence of God "(ibid., 7).
Your Dicastery is called to verify the various modalities of heroic sanctity, the one that shines most visible as the most hidden and least striking, but equally extraordinary. Holiness is the true light of the Church: as such, it must be placed on the candelabrum so that it can illuminate and guide the path towards God of all the redeemed people. This is a daily verification carried out by your Dicastery, which since antiquity has been carried out with scrupulousness and accuracy in investigative research, with seriousness and skill in the study of procedural and documentary sources, with objectivity and rigor in the examination and in every grade of judgment concerning martyrdom, the heroic virtues, the offering of life and the miracle. These are fundamental criteria, which are required by the gravity of the subject dealt with, by the legislation and by the just expectations of the people of God, which relies on the intercession of the Saints and is inspired by their example of life.
Following this path, the work of the Congregation makes it possible to clear the field of all ambiguity and doubt, achieving full certainty in the proclamation of holiness. I can therefore only exhort each of you to continue on the path traced and traveled for about four centuries by the Congregation of the Sacred Rites, and continued in the last fifty years by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. I encourage in this the Superiors, the Cardinals, the Bishops Members of the Dicastery, and all the Officials.
The Consultors, in the historical, theological and medical fields, are called to carry out their work with full freedom of conscience, carefully studying the cases entrusted to them and formulating the relative judgments with mature reflection, impartially and without taking into account conditioning, from whatever part they may come. The Regulations and the practice of the Dicastery, as well as the supervision of Superiors, favor a relationship of absolute independence between the drafters of individual vows and those who form or coordinate the particular Congresses. It is a matter of always keeping in mind the specific purposes of the Causes, which are the glory of God and the spiritual good of the Church, and are closely linked to the search for truth and evangelical perfection.
For their part, the Postulators are increasingly aware that their function requires an attitude of service to the truth and of cooperation with the Holy See. They do not allow themselves to be guided by material visions and economic interests, they do not seek their personal affirmation and above all they flee everything that is in contradiction with the meaning of the ecclesial work they carry out. Let there never be less awareness in the Postulators of the fact that the Causes of beatification and canonization are spiritual realities; not only procedural, spiritual. Therefore they must be treated with a strong evangelical sensitivity and moral rigor. Indeed, once, with Cardinal Amato, we spoke of the need for the miracle. It takes a miracle because it is God's finger right there. Without a clear intervention from the Lord, we cannot move forward in the causes of canonization.
Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you for the diligent service you render to the whole Church. Through your work, you place yourself beside the Bishops to support their commitment in spreading the awareness that holiness is the most profound need of every baptized person, the soul of the Church and the priority aspect of his mission. I entrust your daily work to the maternal intercession of Mary, Queen of Saints, and, as I ask you to pray for me, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.