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Pope makes creation of modern day saints easier

Pope makes creation of modern day saints easier

On Tuesday Pope Francis declared a new category of Christian life suitable for consideration of beatification called "offering of life" - in which a person has died prematurely through an offering of their life for love of God and neighbor.

Until now, it required martyrdom, living a life of heroic values or having a clear saintly reputation.

Titled Maiorem hac dilectionem ("Greater Love Than This"), the document begins by citing Sacred Scripture: "Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

The phrase to choose the "right path" often comes up in common conversation, but when Pope Francis starts speaking about a "new path" all ears perk up.

Christians who are sainted through martyrdom are the only ones who do not have to have been involved in a miracle.

The Servant of God must have freely, voluntarily and heroically offered up his or her life for the sake of charity in the face of a certain death soon realized.

The burden of proof for the candidates for beatification in this new category will be on the diocese or eparchy where the offering of life took place.

And finally, the usual requirement of a confirmed miracle springing from the intercession of the Servant of God for beatification, after his or her death, must be in place.

Under the additional vitae oblatio, the person must still show Christian virtues before and until death.

'The heroic offering of life, suggested and sustained by charity, expresses a true, full and exemplary imitation of Christ, ' Francis said in an apostolic letter.

"This is about canonising people who might have worked with ebola patients or rushed into collapsing buildings to save people - those who put their life on the line for others", said Gerard O'Connell, a Vatican expert at the Jesuit magazine America.

This new path is not to be confused with martyrdom. Verified miracles are a standard criteria for saints to be made in the Catholic Church; for example, Pope John Paul II was canonized for the allegedly miraculous cure of a French nun who suffered from Parkinson's Disease.

The vitae oblatio received approval in September 2016 by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.