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Vatican recruiting lay saint-makers

The London Times is reporting that Pope John Paul II is creating so many saints that the Vatican is having to recruit women and lay people to work as postulators, or what the paper calls "saint detectives".

A report by religious correspondent Richard Owens, reprinted in The Australian this morning, quotes the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's Monsignor Roberto Sarno as suggesting that women were often well-suited to the investigation of potential saints because of their curiosity as researchers and their "attention to detail".

Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, is said to be under such pressure that it is having to "cast the net wider" to find staff capable of scrutinising all the applications.

He said postulators need to show "patience, dedication, objectivity and a huge capacity for research".

"Holiness is not the exclusive preserve of the privileged, and neither is the task of helping to decide who is holy," he said.

However, decisions on the authenticity of miracles would continue to be made by the consultant panel of doctors retained by the Vatican.

Candidates are normally proposed by the local diocese in which the person lived, but the case is then passed to the Vatican for approval - a process that can take years or even decades.

The final decision is taken by a committee of cardinals, who officially advise the Pope, but over whom he is known to have strong influence.

On Sunday the Holy Father presided at the beatification of five holy men and women. They were: Juan Nepomuceno Zegri y Moreno (1831-1905), Valentin Paquay (1828-1905), Luigi Maria Monti (1825-1900), Bonifacia Rodriguez Castro (1837-1905), and Rosalie Rendu (1756-1856).

Lay detectives for Pope's 'saint factory' (The Australian/The Times)
Pope presides at beatification for four (Catholic World News)

Congregation for the Causes of Saints | Saints | Blesseds
Franciscan Office for the Postulation of Saints
Canonical Procedure for Causes of Saints (Vatican Information Service/Faith Seeking Understanding 12/9/97)
Sainthood fast track? For some Vatican officials, it's a test of time (Catholic News Service 12/9/03)

11 Nov 2003