Pope Creates New Category for Sainthood

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
11 Jul 2017

Pope Francis has opened a new path to recognize sainthood. He has thus established it in this Apostolic Letter in the form of a motu proprio titled "Maiorem hac dilectionem," meaning "greater love than this."

It is called the "free offering of one's life." It recognizes the holiness of those who have offered their lives for the Gospel and others, and have died as a result. One example could be the case of a person who has dedicated himself to caring for lepers, yet has been infected and has died by that disease.

Up until now, there were three ways by which a person could be declared blessed or saint: martyrdom for those murdered by an act of hatred of the faith; a faithful practice of the heroic virtues; and, finally, "equivalent canonization," meaning proof that a devout devotion already exists toward the candidate, as well as a solid fame for his/her miraculous intercession.

With this motu proprio, Pope Francis introduces a new path, halfway between martyrdom and heroic virtues. Unlike the way of martyrdom, a miracle must be attributed to the person's intercession for his/her beatification and another for his/her canonization.