Tuesday, August 3, 2010
THE BEATIFICATION PROCESS
Beatification and favours received
Pope Luciani, as those of us who have followed his trajectory know well, was characterized by his humility. Referring to his elevation to St. Peter’s Throne, he said he had not done anything to arrive there. He hadn’t; but others did it for him : the Capuchin friar who awakened his Priesthood vocation; the couple Piperno, who helped him economically when he was a Seminarian; those who were Bishops of Belluno-Feltre diocese, Msgr. Bortignon and Msgr. Muccin, who estimated his talents of piety, loyalty, his pastoral capacity, his wisdom and intelligence, his aptitude for being at the head of a diocese; John XXIII, when he was Patriarch of Venice discovered him during a visit to Belluno, then he himself consecrated him as a Bishop; Paul VI, who appointed him as Patriarch of Venice, put the famous stole on him, and created him as a Cardinal. The Holy Spirit did the rest! As Albino Luciani was climbing positions in the temporary order, undoubtedly, he was also ascending up the steps to holiness ...
There are testimonies of many persons who have been favoured by graces and miracles obtained by his intercession.
Will we ever be able to see John Paul I raised to the honour of the altars ?
The announcement, so expected, has finally arrived: Monday, August 26th 2002. Parish of Canale d'Agordo: Holy Mass in memory of the XXIV Anniversary of John Paul I's election as Pope, celebrated by the Bishop of Belluno, Msgr. Vincenzo Savio. At the end of the Holy Mass, a Bishop's declaration has been read in which, among other things, it was announced that a Postulator will be appointed and a diocesan Priest will be at his side to start "the preliminary research necessary to pick up the informations regarding life and work of Pope Luciani, indispensable premise to every request of introducing a Cause of Canonisation".
Now, everything is in the Lord's hands...
Official declaration from the Bishop of Belluno
RE: Eventual Cause of Canonisation of Pope Luciani
"Since 1978, year of the death of His Holiness John Paul I, until today, a big number of requests from lay, Religious, Priests and Bishops have been picked up in order to introduce the Cause of Canonisation of Pope Luciani.
In attention to these petitions, last year the Bishop, Msgr. Savio, has given the order to a commision of Priests to proceed to a careful analysis of the situation in order to be able to give an answer to so many faithful who request information about the Cause.
As the rules of the Right regarding the Cause of the Saints establish that the competente Bishop to instruct the Cause is that one from the Diocese in which the Servant of God has died, the same Msgr. Savio and then the commission appointed by him have made contact with the Offices of the Vicariate of Rome in charge of that task, with the Congregation of the Cause of the Saints and the Vatican Secretariate of State.
Msgr. Savio has also heard the opinion from the Bishops of the Triveneta Bishops Conference and from the Presbiterial Diocesan Council.
The requests made have had an attentive and interested acceptance by everybody and this as a demonstration of love for Pope Luciani and the common effort of trying to give an answer to the faithful from all the world who request the canonisation.
Comforted by the sure consensus as from the Bishops as from the Clergy he has met, Msgr. Bishop announces that the Diocese of Belluno-Feltre, diocese where Albino Luciani was born, grown up, been ordered as Priest and fulfilled many years of his ministry, has decided to promote the preliminary research necessary to pick up the informations regarding life and work of Pope Luciani, indispensable premise to every request of introducing a Cause of Canonisation.
It is not, therefore, the starting of the Canonical Cause, but to put the preconditions for its eventual start.
To this purpose, Msgr. Savio will appoint soon a competent person to take the Office of Postulator and he will ask the approval to the Cardinal Vicar of Rome.
Msgr. Savio will also place a Priest of the Diocese of Belluno-Feltre at the Postulator's side by side in order to help him in the task of research. This Priest will be a referral of the Diocese to those who wish to get or give informations regarding the preliminary research that has been instructed.
Msgr. Bishop wishes to invite all the faithful to follow and support this work of research also because, whatever was the result, that will be, anyway, an important contribution to understand a period of history of the Church and Pope Luciani's life.
Following the indications from the Pontifical Congregation of the Cause of the Saints, avoid everyone, inside or outside the Church, those acts (liturgical rites, publications, relics offerings, etc.) that would be able to lead the faithful to believe wrongly that the research about life and virtues of John Paul I, means the certitude of the future canonisation, or in any way, can anticipate the conclusions. These acts, even when they are made as a sincere wish of good, can make more difficult the introduction and the way to the Cause of Canonisation.
While this declaration regarding the commitment that the Diocese of Belluno-Feltre takes on it itself today, is released, Msgr. Bishop reminds that the Diocese follows with so much attention and involvement the Causes already introduced for two Servants of God, born, grown up and ordered as Priests in our Diocese: Fr. Felice Cappello, from Canale d'Agordo, and Fr. Romano Bottegal, from San Donato di Lamon.
These signs of holiness, present in our land, and also the research about Pope Luciani that has started now, can be a stimulus to all us to commit ourselves to live and to witness our faith".
Canale d'Agordo, August 26th 2002
JUNE 8TH, 2003
The Congregation for Sainthood Causes has given its consent to begin the canonical process on the holiness of Pope John Paul I.
The news was announced Sunday by Bishop Vincenzo Savio.
The postulator of the cause is Salesian Father Pasquale Liberatore, and the vice postulator is the diocesan priest Monsignor Giorgio Lise, rector of Centro Papa Luciani .
VATICAN DOCUMENTS ISSUED ON JUNE 2003
As a result of the information received from His Most Reverence Eminence Mr. Cardinal of Holy Roman Church, Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, the High Pontiff, John Paul II, careful to the expressed wishes from His Most Reverence Eminence, Mr. Cardinal of Holy Roman Church, Camillo Ruini, his Vicar for the City of Rome, and from His Excellency, the Bishop of Belluno-Feltre, Msgr. Vincenzo Savio s.d.b, very gladly grants that, at diocesan level, the investigation about life and virtues of the Servant of God John Paul I (Albino Luciani), High Pontiff, so as his reputation of holiness, can be developped by the Diocesan Curia of the Diocese of Belluno-Feltre, even when the above mentioned Servant of God has passed away to the eternal life in the City of Rome.
. While proceeding of the investigation, the enforced dispositions of the Canonical Right can be respected.
In spite of whichever thing in contrary.
Issued in Rome , in the palace of this same Congregation, June 17th 2003 .
Card. Giuseppe Saraiva Martins - Prefect
+ Edward Nowak, titular Bishop of Luni – Secretary
As a result of the information received from His Most Reverence Eminence Mr. Cardinal of Holy Roman Church, Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, the High Pontiff John Paul II, declares: from the part of the Holy See, no obstacle is placed to the possibility to proceed, with the established passages, to the Cause of Beatification and Canonisation of the Servant of God John Paul I (Albino Luciani)
. In spite of whichever thing in contrary.
Issued in Rome, in the palace of this same Congregation, June 17th 2003.
Card. Giuseppe Saraiva Martins - Prefect
+ Edward Nowak, titular Bishop of Luni – Secretary
Regarding the Cause of Beatification
Expecting that the process of Beatification of Pope Luciani can start in the Diocese of Belluno-Feltre, it is noted that:
* Postulator is the Reverend don Pasquale Liberatore (Salesian), resident in Rome;
* Vice-Postulator and Referent for the Diocese is the Reverend don Giorgio Lise;
* Actor (Promoter) of the Cause is the Centro di Spiritualità e Cultura “Papa Luciani” of Santa Giustina.
Every petition or news regarding the Cause, as testimonies and graces received, are exclusively directed to this address: Centro Papa Luciani, Via Sartena Alta 1, loc. Col Cumano, 32035 Santa Giustina (BL). Centro Papa Luciani’s e-mail:
* Eventual offerings can be transmitted to the same address or be directly deposited in banking account nr. 40026096 of the Unicredit Banca, Agency of Santa Giustina BL, cod. Abi 2008, Cab 61270.
OCTOBER 31st 2003
The Postulator of the Cause of Beatification of Pope Luciani, Fr. Pasquale Liberatore dies.
Attending the new Postulator's appointment, Msgr. Giorgio Lise, Vice-postulator, has confirmed on Sunday November 23th 2003 at Belluno Cathedral the ceremony of the oath of the canonical court to start officially the Beatification process. The day after, Monday 24th, the first witness of the cause will be listened.
Vice-postulator: Msgr. Giorgio Lise, graduated in Canonical Right, Rotal lawyer, Judge of Triveneto Ecclesiastical Court, Director of "Centro Papa Luciani" at Santa Giustina.
Teological Censors: Msgr. Giacomo Mazzorana, graduated in Philosophy and licensed in Theology; Msgr. Angelo Secolini, graduated in Classical Theology, Philosophy and Letters.
Historical commission: Msgr. Ausilio Da Rif, archivist, dean of the Cathedral Chapter;
don Claudio Centa, graduated in Ecclesiastical History; Loris Serafini, graduated in Foreign Languages and Literature.
Chancellor: don Gianni Trevisan, licensed in Canonical Right, Episcopal Chancellor, Judge of Triveneto Ecclesiastical Court.
Officials of the Court:
President: Bishop of Belluno, Msgr. Vincenzo Savio;
Delegate Judge: Msgr. Attilio Giacobbi, graduated in Civil and Canonical Law, Rotal Lawyer, Judge of Triveneto Ecclesiastical Court.
Promoter of Justice: don Aldo Barbon, graduated in Canonical Right, Archpriest of Pedavena, defensor of the Tie in Triveneto Ecclesiastical Court.
Actuary Notary: Don Diego Bardin, Vice-rector of the Seminary of Belluno.
Added Notaries: don Giulio Giacobbi and don Tarcisio Piccolin.
Cursor Notary: Arduino De Bortoli. (fdm)
NOVEMBER 23th 2003
Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe
INTRODUCTION OF THE CANONISATION PROCESS
Cathedral of Belluno, 3 pm. Headed by the Bishop Msgr. Vincenzo Savio with the participation of the Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of the Saints, Card. José Saraiva Martins. Present: Pope Luciani's relatives headed by the brother Edoardo Luciani and the niece Pia Luciani, the Bishop of Vittorio Veneto, Msgr. Alfredo Magarotto, Albino Luciani's secretaries: Msgr. Mario Senigaglia, don Diego Lorenzi and don Francesco Taffarel; a delegation of the Patriarchy of Venice.
MSGR. Savio's First INTERVENTION
"In this Solemnity of Christ King of the Universe, the Cathedral Basilica of Belluno, that shares with the Dome of Feltre the visible maternity of all the churches of the Diocese, brights today of light and presence of the people of God and, through the mass media, in some way expands its walls and it opens to the world.
In the splendor of the people and clergy, gathered around the Bishop, at the presence of the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of the Saints, His Eminence Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, of Bishop Alfredo, Albino Luciani's successor in the episcopal see of Vittorio Veneto; of Patriarchy of Venice delegation, at the presence of Luciani's family, and the birth place Canale d'Agordo delegation, we are living an expected moment: we set the Court. With this first sitting, the Diocesan Process of Canonisation has begun, first item in order to verify if the diffused feeling in the people of God that ask Albino Luciani, Pope John Paul I, to be proposed to the ecclesial community as a holiness witness, is God's Will.
We perceive near us don Pasquale Liberatore's presence who, after having accompanied us in this phase as Postulator, suddenly died in the last weeks. We feel him with joy taking part at this appointment that he had expected with intensity.
The own duty, to which this Court is destined, is to examinate the action of God in Albino Luciani's life and the personal answer of this servant of God, totally opened to the work of grace and the service of the human beings. An examination that will have to be deep, total and to be opened on all his existence among us in the stages of Belluno, Vittorio Veneto, Venice and Rome and in his duties of faithful, Priest, Bishop and Pope.
We will go on ourselves in the deep of this contemplation of the action of the Grace in order to let us be surprised by the marvellous things it can do on how many ones are available to God's Will.
There where the Lord will ask us to go on, we will do it. We will stop where He will invite to stop. If God wants that he is a witness recognized and proponibile of holiness to the world, we will be happy to serve this divine intention.
We will investigate with love and truth, sure that in the verification of this gift of God, we will live extraordinary gifts for the personal life and for the world. We thanks God in advance and the Church that has entrusted us such an important task to which we will engage ourselves to hold faith and for this fidelity we ask you today, and all along our service, your prayer and your collaboration".
CARDINAL SARAIVA MARTINS' SPEECH
"I feel like you the soul in feast and the great joy of being here, also in order to honor the Venerable Church of Belluno-Feltre that enjoys significative candidates to the honor of the altars, together with the servant of God Albino Luciani, perhaps the most illustrious, whose Cause of Beatification is opened in Diocese today. They are already on the way, in fact, the Causes for the Beatification of the servant of God Father Felice Cappello, Jesuit, and the servant of God Father Romano Bottegal, Trappist, sons of this Bellunese church, too.
My affected thought goes, in this moment, to the beloved don Pasquale Liberatore, recently passed from this world to the Father, for how much he has made for this Cause, with competence, rigor and love to the Church and that, sure, it will not go lost. The Lord rewards him.
In a beautiful volume, plenty of anecdotes and examples, written by don Francesco Taffarel, entitled "Pope Luciani tells" are reported some words said by the Bishop to his Priests in 1960, about preaching: "Who speaks, sometimes, seems that, taking a child, tries to feed him with half a loaf of bread time to time. A mother doesn't do like that who prepares little reasonable pieces and flavor them with smiles and encouragements".
Words full of wisdom that I would like to practice in this solemn occasion, even if it'd be necessary to have that charisma of simpliciity that made Luciani's word arrives straight to people's heart. It will be enough to promise us again not to lose the stimulus that this circumstance offers to us, in order to know better the wonderful figure of this man of God, Albino Luciani, and to deepen on the message. It is still necessary to dig a lot on the thought and the life of this great shepherd, also because his thought, not only it's never banal, but always original and witty, in the content and in the style. I agree with whom would want to give ulterior importance on how Luciani has received the richness of the Council, with an exemplary way, letting him transform by it, also in the same way to conceive the Church.
An interesting aspect, not lacking of surprises, is that one of the concept of holiness matured in Albino Luciani, and the the relative way he has to introduce the Saints, sometimes ardorous, singular. The material, to this purpose, is big: homilies, messages, articles, conferences, mentions on several speeches, so much that it should be made an appropriated study, or to publish a volume. I take only some example, to engage, maybe, others to the exciting task.
On a writing "to the memory of Blessed Leopoldo Mandic", on May 30th 1976, he testifies on his only meeting with Fr. Leopoldo, in Belluno, when he was a young Priest and was confessed by him. Commenting his proverbial goodness, he writes: "How much misery towards sinners! I feel moved when I think that, yes, Paul VI has made Blessed Fr. Leopoldo; but the first canonised one, the first man proclaimed Saint in front of all the people, has been a thief. On the Cross, Jesus has said: 'You will be with Me in Paradise, today'. To a thief! And how much goodness, I said, towards sinners".
He told to have stayed in front of Jacobello da Fiore's Paradise... and to have found in the center, up and big, Jesus who incoronates His Mother and then, below and small, lots of angels and saints. And he concluded: "It is necessary to begin from Jesus: Saints are not understood without Jesus; they are in small what He has been in big; without His example and His continuous help, they would not be what they are: they have worked and suffered a lot; why? Because they were felt loved by Jesus, they have loved Him and they believed that His power supported their weakness".
Luciani, since he was the young don Albino and made the simple catechist to the children of the parish or the school, liked to compare love to a kind of travel. He himself will say that during the memorable General Audience that, like John Paul I, gave to the faithful on Charity. And on his Catechism lessons of his youthness, he already said: "When it is said: love the Lord with all the heart, with all the spirit and with all the forces, it is said: you must absolutely make an effort to become a saint. Here there is a totalitarianism: it is said many times that ex toto, ex tota, than evidently the Lord wants us to be totalitarian in the way of holiness. But it is not necessary that you make extraordinary things. Make the things made by all. Only try to make them with holiness... Holiness of coasting trade... Like doves, that make a hop from here to there, from a chimney to the other one... Someone will be also an eagle, but us, let us be pleased ourselves of being doves".
The cardinal has also told that after Paul VI's death, Luciani had gone to visit the body. He had made the row between thousands of persons. In a certain moment, he had thought he couldn't reach there. But finally he was recognized once he had arrived before the body, then he was led to another place and was offered a bench to stay on kneeling. This situation puts in evidence "the condition of the humble Patriarch of Venice, who comes from people and loves to stay with people, without being proclaimed, without publicity, in silence".
After Msgr. Savio and Card. Saraiva Martins' words, the introduction of the Process started.
The Postulator (n.d.a. in this case it's the Vice, Msgr. Giorgio Lise) reads an introduction of Pope Luciani's biography and the request of introducing the Process. The Bishop answers with the agreement. So he indicates his delegate in order to collect the testimonies, who is at his side as Promoter of Justice and the Notaries.
FRAGMENTS FROM MSGR. Savio'S SECOND SPEECH
After the Postulator's request of starting the Process of Beatification and Canonisation, the Bishop says that there is "a feeling diffused on the people of God who ask he can be proposed as witness of holiness". In fact, there are hundreds of thousands of signatures in these years that confirm the popular request that Albino Luciani can be proclaimed a Saint.
"If after this celebration someone asked me: 'Why so much solemnity?', my answer would be: ' With Albino Luciani's presence, our community has enjoyed a particular visit of the Spirit of the Lord'. His life between us has enriched this particular church with gifts that have marked our local history and have helped it to open itself more to the world history. It has been a visit of the Spirit that opens us towards new and fecund paths of Grace. While in Pope Luciani we admire the splendor of the tree, it obligates us to visit again the humble roots of a holiness: they are sunk on the land of a people that have made possible the tree splendorous top. Albino's adventure of holiness, I am convinced, will help us to find out again the roots of a holiness present in our parents, too. Still more: I feel Pope Luciani will take us by hand and will invite each one of us to go forward with courage to that way of holiness to which we all are called in Jesus Christ"(...)
Msgr. Savio greets Edoardo Luciani
his wife Antonietta's sister and Pia Luciani
The chancellor, reading of the report, invites the oath. First, the Bishop, then the Delegate Judge, then the Promoter of Justice, the Notaries, the Postulator (n.d.a. the Vice, Msgr. Giorgio Lise) swear they want to fulfill with diligence their assignment.
The Bishop swears with the right hand on the pectoral cross.
BISHOP - In the name of the Lord, I Vincenzo Savio, Bishop of Belluno-Feltre, in the Process on the reputation of holiness, the virtues in species and the miracles in general of the Servant of God John Paul I (Albino Luciani), High Pontiff, I SWEAR to fulfill my assignment without human interests, but for the only Glory of God, with impartiality and diligence, following the norms issued by the Apostolic See, keeping the requested secret of office.
So God help me!
The Delegate Judge, the Promoter of Justice and the Notaries swear touching the Gospels.
DELEGATE Judge, Promoter of justice and Notaries - In the name of the Lord, I N.N., (ministry)
in the Process on the reputation of holiness, the virtues in species and the miracles in general of the Servant of God John Paul I (Albino Luciani), High Pontiff, I SWEAR to fulfill my assignment without human interests, but for the only Glory of God, with impartiality and diligence, following the norms issued by the Apostolic See, keeping the requested secret of office.
So God help me!
The Postulator swears touching the Gospels
POSTULATOR - In the name of the Lord, I Giorgio Lise, Postulator legitimately constituted in the Process of Canonisation of the Servant of God John Paul I (Albino Luciani), High Pontiff, I SWEAR to fulfill with rightness my Office; not to say or make anything that can, directly or indirectly, alter the truth and the justice or condition the Witnesses; and keeping the requested secret of office.
So God help me and these Holy Gospels!
The oath of the Vice-postulator Msgr. Lise
On November 24th 2003 the first witness will be listened.
God Trinity, Cenaculus of Love, Source of Holiness,
from whose godness life is started
and on whose will grows up our happiness,
We ask You to rise your work of love between us
recognizing the original holiness
of your servant Albino Luciani, Pope John Paul I.
In our needs we invoke his intercession
to get the grace from which we are needy: ...
Make us be granted to imitate
his peaceful abandonment on You.
We can be supported by the example of his prayer
with which during the life he opened all his heart to You
and now, in your glory, he praises You.
Vincenzo Savio s.d.b.
Bishop of Belluno-Feltre
MARCH 31st, 2004
The Bishop of Belluno-Feltre, Msgr. Vincenzo Savio, dies.
MAY 22th, 2004
During the third meeting of spirituality on John Paul I's writings at Centro Papa Luciani, Msgr. Giorgio Lise has said regarding the Cause of Beatification:
- The new Postulator is Fr. Enrico Dal Covolo, Salesian. It's necessary he can be confirmed by the new Bishop of Belluno not appointed yet.
- Last year, Pope Luciani's writings, those ones already published, have been examinated and nothing was found against Catholic Doctrine and Moral. More examinations must be made in the future on writings not yet published.
- The oldest Priests of the Diocese of Belluno have already been heard and also Pope Luciani's brother and sister.
NOVEMBER 10th, 2006
The diocesan phase of the cause of beatification and canonization of the Pope John Paul I has ended, and the case has been sent to the Vatican.
The cause opened in Belluno three years ago with the first session of the tribunal, presided over at the time by Bishop Vincenzo Savio. The diocesan phase ended Friday in the cathedral of Belluno.
The tribunal's last session was presided over by Bishop Giuseppe Andrich, the current head of the diocese.
Msgr. Andrich signs the documents of the end of the Diocesan Process
The history of the process was summarized and its phases read out. Then, all the documentation examined by the tribunal was closed and sealed before being sent to the Vatican Congregation for Saints' Causes, which now oversees the cause.
In the newspaper Avvenire the postulator of the cause, Father Enrico Dal Covolo, described the key characteristic of Pope John Paul I as "the figure of the Good Shepherd who gives his life, without holding anything back, for the flock entrusted to him."
The newspaper recently reported Father Dal Covolo's words about John Paul I: "I see embodied in him the famous maxim of St. Augustine: 'It is a duty of love to feed the flock of Christ.'"
For the beatification of the Servant of God, a miracle is necessary, attributed to his intercession -- and there already is "a case of cure" which might have such characteristics, said the postulator. The evaluation of the miracle would take place only after the Vatican Congregation for Saints' Causes proclaims the heroic virtues of Albino Luciani.
The case that the postulator mentioned occurred in Puglia, in southern Italy. A man reportedly was cured of a tumor, without any possible scientific explanation, after praying to God for this grace through the intercession of the deceased Pontiff.
On Friday, after the closing of the diocesan phase of the cause, holy cards were distributed at the entrance of the Belluno cathedral with the prayer that the local bishop composed to obtain Albino Luciani's beatification.
The holy cards have a small relic from the clothing of Pope John Paul I.
The piece of the clothing is at the botton, left side of the card.
The authenticity mark of the relic is at the bottom, right side of the card.
The cards can be requested at Centro Papa Luciani: email@example.com
The process of investigation
The process of investigation of an alleged miracle in the causes for canonization
by Stefania Falasca
The diocesan investigation into the alleged miracle attributed to the intercession of Albino Luciani – Pope John Paul I – will close by the end of October. The closing session will take place in Altamura in the province of Bari and will be chaired by Monsignor Mario Paciello, Bishop of Altamura-Gravina-Acquaviva delle Fonti, the diocese in which the miraculous cure took place. The members of the Ecclesiastical Court will take part along with a Salesian priest, Father Enrico dal Covolo, postulator of the cause of canonization of John Paul I. At the conclusion of the diocesan enquiry the proceedings will be sent to Rome to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, which is first of all required to give canonical validity to the papers themselves, recognizing the correctness of the procedure. On the basis of the proceedings, acknowledged and approved by the Decretum on their legal validity, the second and complex Roman phase will open. The case of the healing of Giuseppe Denora came to the Postulator’s office in 2003, one of the many letters telling of the graces received through the intercession of John Paul I. It was considered worthy of attention in that it had elements valid for setting up a process. After the necessary preliminary investigations and assessment of the clinical documentation provided, investigation of the case was opened on 14 May 2007. But the verification and conclusion of the whole procedure must be awaited in order for it to be considered a miracle in all effects. Only when, after discussing and examining all the evidence gathered in the diocesan enquiry regarding both the prodigious fact in itself and the attribution of the event to the intercession of the servant of God Albino Luciani, and when the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has ascertained it, will it definitively recognize it, by a juridical act sanctioned by the Pope, as a true and proper miracle.
We therefore need to remember what is meant by a miracle, clarify what importance it has in cases of canonization and how the proceedings for its recognition take place.
What is a miracle
In the Summa theologiae Saint Thomas defines a miracle as “what is done by God outside the order of nature”. Thus a fact that goes beyond the forces of nature, which can be worked by God through the intercession of a servant of God or a blessed, is considered a miracle. The modalities of a miracle are thus defined: the miracle may exceed the capacity of nature either as to the substance of the fact or as to the subject, or only as to the mode of its occurrence.
The need for miracles in causes for canonization
Without the approval of miracles that have occurred through the intercession of a candidate to the honors of the altars canonization cannot be concluded. The beatification of a non-martyr servant of God and the canonization of a blessed are bound up with recognition of a miracle. Currently, in fact, for the beatification of a non-martyr servant of God the Church requires a miracle, for canonization (even of a martyr) it requires another. Only alleged miracles attributed to the post-mortem intercession of a servant of God or a blessed may be made the object of verification. Over the centuries their verification and recognition by the Church have always had a central importance. From the early centuries onwards, when bishops had to grant permission for the cult of a non-martyr, before examining his/her excellentia vitae and virtues, they considered the evidence of the excellentia signorum because miracles, being only God’s work, gratuitous gift of God, certain sign of revelation, intended to inspire and strengthen our faith, are also a confirmation of the holiness of the person invoked. In a case of canonization therefore they represent a divine sanction of a human judgment, and their recognition enables a cult to be permitted with certainty. Thus an investigation, a genuine trial, is opened for the verification of miracles which is conducted separately from that on virtues or martyrdom.
How the legal process of ascertainment takes place
The proceedings for the recognition of a miracle take place under the rules established in 1983 by the Apostolic Constitution Divinus perfectionis Magister. The legislation establishes two procedural phases: the diocesan one and that of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, known as the Roman one. The first takes place in the diocese where the prodigious happening occurred. The bishop opens an inquiry into an alleged miracle during which both the testimony of eyewitnesses, questioned by a duly constituted court, is taken and the complete clinical and instrumental documentation inherent to the case. In the second phase, which opens after the termination of the diocesan enquiry, the Congregation examines all the documents received and any additional documents, pronouncing its verdict.
Once forwarded to the Congregation, the material gathered in the diocese is then subjected to twofold investigation: medical and theological. The medical examination is conducted by a committee, the medical Consulta, a collegiate body made up of five specialists plus two in-house experts. The specialists vary according to the clinical cases presented and the request for consultation or eventual convocation of other experts and specialists is not ruled out. Their testimony is purely scientific, they do not pronounce on the miracle. The examination and final discussion of the medical Consulta conclude by establishing the exact diagnosis of the illness, prognosis, treatment and end result. In order to be regarded as a possible miracle the healing must be judged by the specialists as rapid, complete, lasting and inexplicable by current medical and scientific knowledge. If perplexities arise during the enquiry the Consulta suspends assessment and asks for further expertise and documentation. Only after the medical Consulta arrives at a majority or unanimous verdict in favor of the extra-natural character of the healing does the enquiry pass to the Consulta of theologians. The advisory theologians, on the basis of the conclusions of the medical Consulta, are called upon to identify the causal link between the prayers to the servant of God and the healing, and express their opinion on whether the prodigious event is a true miracle. When the theologians have expressed and drafted their verdict, the evaluation is submitted to the ordinary Congregation of bishops and cardinals, who debate all the features of the miracle. Each stage thus gives its opinion to be submitted for approval to the pope, who decides on the miracle, and then arranges to promulgate a decree on it. The decree is therefore the last act closing the legal process in determining a miracle. It is the juridical act of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, endorsed by the Pope, whereby a prodigious event is finally recognized as a true and proper miracle.
By 30Days, August 2008
The cause of the Servant of God Albino Luciani
by Stefania Falasca
The cause for the beatification and canonization of John Paul I was solemnly opened on 23 November 2003 in the Cathedral of Belluno. The diocesan enquiry into his virtues concluded on 10 November 2006. The investigation brought together all the spoken and documentary evidence. During its 203 sessions 170 witnesses were heard in the episcopal headquarters in Belluno, Vittorio Veneto, Venice and Rome. On 27 June last year the formal decree of validity of the diocesan proceedings was signed by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints and Father Cristoforo Bove was appointed to bring forward the cause. The Roman phase of the cause thus opened. In this second phase, on the basis of the documents recognized and endorsed by the decree of validity, the Positio super virtutibus will be prepared which must demonstrate the heroic virtues and reputation of sanctity of the servant of God. Upon completion of the Positio two stages of enquiry follow, one conducted by the Congress of consultant theologians and one by the ordinary Congregation of bishops and cardinals. The promulgation of the decree on the virtues will be the final act in the process of ascertainment of the heroic virtues.