Yesterday, July 11, 2017, the Holy Father released a motu proprio that enacts a third category of those eligible for sainthood: Those who gives their lives in an act of charity. This is in addition to the two previous categories, those who died in odium fidei (hatred of the faith, i.e., martyrs) and those who died after living a life of heroic Christian virtue.
Here is the Google Translate version of the document, which is at this point only available in Latin and Italian:
IN THE FORM OF “MOTU OWN”
OF THE SOMMO PONTEFICE
” MAIOREM HAC DILECTIONEM “
ON THE OFFER OF LIFE
“No one has greater love than this: to give his life for his friends” ( Jn 15 : 13).
Christians who, following the footsteps and teachings of the Lord Jesus, have offered voluntarily and freely their lives to others and have persevered until death in this regard are worthy of special consideration and honor.
It is certain that the heroic offering of life, suggested and supported by charity, expresses a true, full and exemplary imitation of Christ, and therefore deserves the admiration that the community of the faithful is usually reserved to those who have voluntarily accepted the Martyrdom of blood or heroic virtues of Christian virtue.
With the comfort of the favorable opinion expressed by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints , which in the Plenary Session of September 27, 2016 has carefully studied whether these Christians deserve beatification, I agree that the following norms are observed:
The offering of life is a new case of beatification and canonization, distinguished from the facts about martyrdom and the heroic virtue.
The offering of life, to be valid and effective for the beatification of a Servant of God, must meet the following criteria:
A) free and voluntary offer of life and heroic acceptance propter caritatem of a certain and short-term death;
B) the link between life’s offering and premature death;
C) Exercise, at least in ordinary degree, of Christian virtues before the offering of life and then to death;
D) the existence of the fame of holiness and signs, at least after death;
E) the need for a miracle for beatification, after the death of the Servant of God and his intercession.
The celebration of the diocesan or eparchial Inquiry and its Positio are governed by the Apostolic Constitution of Divinus perfectionis Magister of 25 January 1983, in Acta Apostolicae Sedis Vol. LXXV (1983, 349-355), and by Normae servandae in inquisitionibus ab Episcopis facendis in Causis Sanctorum of 7 February of the same year in Acta Apostolicae Sedis Vol. LXXV (1983, 396-403), except for the following.
The Positio on the Offer of Life must answer the question: An heresy of obedience to a mortem propter caritatem necnon of virtutibus christianis, saltem in the ordinary city, in casu and at effectum de quo agitur .
The following Articles of the Apostolic Constitution are amended as follows:
” The diocesan bishops, the eparchi and those who are equated with the law, within their jurisdiction, both by office or at the request of individual loyalists or legitimate associations and their representatives, have the right to investigate about the Life, or martyrdom, and the fame of holiness, of offering of life or of martyrdom, of the supposed miracles, and possibly of the ancient cult of the Servant of God, which is called for canonization . “
” The Inquiry on the alleged miracles should be separated from that on virtues, on the offer of life, or on martyrdom . “
“To study the causes entrusted to them by external collaborators and prepare the Positiones on virtues, on the offer of life, or on martyrdom . “
” If Congress decides that the case has been instructed in accordance with the law, it will decide to entrust it to one of the Speakers; The Rapporteur, in turn, assisted by an external collaborator, will make the Positio on virtues, on the offer of life or on martyrdom, according to the rules of hagiography . “
The following articles of the aforementioned Normae servandae in inquisitionibus ab Episcopis facendis in Causis Sanctorum are amended as follows:
” The cause may be recent or ancient; Is said recently, if the martyrdom, virtues or offerings of the life of the Servant of God can be tested through the oral depositions of eyewitnesses; Is said to be ancient when evidence of martyrdom or virtues can only be inferred from written sources . “
Art. 10.1 °:
” In recent and ancient causes, a biography of a certain historical value on the Servant of God, if there is, or if not, a timely chronological relationship to the life and activities of the Servant of God, to the virtues or to the” Offering of life or martyrdom, the fame of holiness and miracles, without omitting what seems contrary or less favorable to the cause itself . “
Art. 10.3 °:
” Only in recent cases, a list of people who can help explore the truth about the virtues or offerings of life or the martyrdom of the Servant of God, as well as the fame of holiness and miracles, or to oppose it .”
Art. 15, to:
” Having received the report, the Bishop delivered to the Promoter of Justice or another expert all that has been acquired so far so that he can prepare the interrogations useful to investigate and highlight the truth about life, virtues, “Offer of life or martyrdom, the fame of holiness, of the offering of life or of martyrdom of the Servant of God “.
Art. 15, b:
” In ancient causes, interrogations concern only the fame of holiness, of the offer of life or of martyrdom still present, and if so, worship made to the Servant of God in more recent times .”
” To prove martyrdom, the exercise of the virtues or the offer of life and the fame of the miracles of a Servant of God who has belonged to some institute of consecrated life, the witnesses presented must be, in part, remarkable, strangers; Unless this is impossible because of the particular life of the Servant of God . “
“The miraculous inquiry must be taught separately from the inquiry into the virtues or offerings of life or martyrdom and take place according to the norms that follow .”
” Churches are prohibited in any kind of celebration or panegiric service of the Servants of God, whose holiness of life is still subject to legitimate scrutiny. But even out of the church, one must abstain from those acts that might lead the faithful to feel wrong that the bishop’s inquiry into life and virtues, about martyrdom or the offering of the life of the Servant of God, implies the certainty of Future canonization of the same Servant of God“.
All that I have deliberated with this Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu proprio, I order that it be observed in all its parts, despite anything contrary, although worthy of particular mention, and I state that it is promulgated by publication in the newspaper “L ‘ Osservatore Romano “, which came into force on the day of the promulgation and was later included in Acta Apostolicae Sedis .
Given in Rome, at St. Peter’s, on July 11, 5th of Our Pontificate.