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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Greater love than this

This morning, the Vatican Press Centre published the text of the Holy Father's motu proprio Apostolic Letter entitled maiorem hac dilectionem (Greater love than this) on the subject of offering one's life.


Apostolic Letter of His Holiness, Pope Francis
on the subject of offering one's life

No one has greater love than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends (Jn 15:13).

Christians who, following in the footsteps of and according to the teachings of the Lord Jesus, have willingly and freely offered their lives for others, and who have persevered until death in this regard, are worthy of special consideration and honour.

Certainly, the heroic offering of life, suggested and sustained by charity, expresses a true, full and exemplary imitation of Christ who, and therefore merits the admiration which the community of the faithful customarily reserves for those who have voluntarily accepted the martyrdom of blood or who have demonstrated heroic Christian virtue.

With the comfort of the favourable opinion expressed by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which during its Plenary Session held 27 September 2016 attentively studied the question of whether such Christians deserve beatification, I agree that the following norms should be observed:

Article 1
The offer of life is a new case for the beatification and canonization process, distinct from the case of martyrdom and heroic virtue.

Article 2
The offer of life, in order to be valid and efficacious for the beatification of a Servant of God, should meet the following criteria:

a) free and willing offer of life and heroic acceptance propter caritatem of a certain and short-term death; the link between the offer of life and premature death;

b) the exercise, at least to an ordinary degree, of Christian virtue before the offering of life and then, to the point of death;

c) the existence of reputation for holiness and and for signs, at least after death;

d) the necessity for one miracle for the beatification, which takes place after the death of the Servant of god and by his or her intercession.

Article 3
The celebration of the diocesan or eparchial inquiry and the relative Positio are regulated by the Apostolic Constitution Divinus perfectionis Magister dated 25 January 1983, as listed in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Volume LXXV (1983, pages 349-355), and in the Normae servandae in inquisitionibus ab Episcopis facendis in Causis Sanctorum dated 7 February of that same year, as printed in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Volume LXXV (1983, 396-403), except for the following.

Article 4
The Positio regarding the offer of life should respond to the question: Is there evidence of a heroic offering of life and death for the sake of charity and the Christian virtues, at least in an ordinary case and in a matter of debate?

Article 5
The following articles of the Apostolic Constitution are amended as follows:

Article 1
To Diocesan Bishops, to Eparchs and to those who are equated by the law, within their jurisdiction, both by office and at the request of individual faithful or legitimate associations and by their representatives, have the right to investigate the life, the martyrdom or the evidence of holiness, concerning the offering of life or the martyrdom, the supposed miracles and eventually, the ancient cult of the Servant of God, who is considered for canonization.

Article 2.5
The inquiry concerning alleged miracles should be conducted separately from that concerning virtues, the offer of life or martyrdom.

Article 7.1
to study the causes entrusted to them by external collaborators in order to prepare the Positiones concerning the virtue, the offer of life or the martyrdom.

Article 13.2
If the Congress decides that the cause has been instructed according to the norms of law, it will determine to entrust it to one of the Relators; the Relators, in their turn, assisted by an external collaborator, will compose the Positio concerning the virtue, the offer of life of the martyrdom, according to the rules of hagiographic criteria.

Article 6
The following articles of the citation Normae servandae in inquisitionibus ab Episcopi facendis in Causis Sanctorum are amended as follows:

Article 7
The cause can be recent or old; is said to be recent, if the martyrdom, the virtue or the offer of life of the Servant of God can be proven through the oral deposition of eyewitnesses; and in cases said to be older when evidence of the martyrdom or the virtue can only be inferred from written sources.

Article 10.1
In causes both recent and old, a biography of a certain historical value concerning the Servant of God, if it exists, or in the case where such a biography does not exist, an accurate chronological report concerning the life and the activity of the Servant of God, on the virtue or the offer of life or the martyrdom, concerning the reputation for holiness or the miracles, without omitting that which appears to the contrary or less favorable to the cause itself.

Article 10.3
only in recent causes, a list of persons who can contribute to the exploration of the truth concerning the virtue or the offer of life or the martyrdom of the Servant of God, as well as concerning the reputation for holiness and the miracles, or to challenge them.

Article 15a
Having received the report, the Bishop will forward to the promotor of justice or to another expert all that has been acquired up to that moment, in order that interrogations may be prepared which will be useful to investigate and to bring to light the truth concerning the life, virtue, offer of life or martyrdom, the reputation for holiness, the offer of life or the martyrdom of the Servant of God.

Article 15b
In older causes, interrogations concerning only the reputation for holiness, the offer of life or the martyrdom still present, and if so, the prayer offered to the Servant of God in more recent times.

Article 19
To prove martyrdom, the exercise of virtue or the offer of life and the reputation for miracles of the Servant of god who has belonged to an institute of consecrated life, the witnesses presented must be, at least in part, strangers; unless this is impossible, due to the particular life of the Servant of God.

Article 32
The inquiry concerning miracles should be instructed separately from the inquiry concerning the virtue or the offer of life or the martyrdom and should be conducted according to the norms that follow:

Article 36
Churches are prohibited from observing any kind of celebration, lofty oration or praise concerning a Servant of God, whose holiness of life is still subject to legitimate scrutiny.  But even outside of the Church, one should abstain from such acts as may lead the faithful to wrongly interpret the inquiry carried out by the Bishop concerning the life, the virtue, the martyrdom or the offer of life of the Servant of God, or that which may imply certainty concerning the future canonization of the same Servant of God.

All that I have discussed in this Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu proprio, I order that it should be observed in all its parts, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, even if it should be worthy of particular mention, and I establish that it should be published in the daily periodical L'Osservatore Romano, entering into effect the same day that it is promulgated and that it should be subsequently included in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Given at Rome, at Saint Peter's, this 11th day of July, the fifth of Our Pontificate.
Francis
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