Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Another Saint comin' our way... but with a twist

Bl. Peter Faber, S.J. will join an impressive list of fellow-
Jesuits recognized by the Church as saints.
According to a report by the Vatican Insider, Pope Francis is set to issue a papal bull decreeing the canonization of Bl. Peter Faber, the first follower of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Pope Francis has spoken in the past about his personal devotion to Faber, whom he sees as a model of spirituality and priestly life for himself as pope.

"[His] dialogue with all, even the most remote and even with his opponents; his simple piety, a certain naïveté perhaps, his being available straightaway, his careful interior discernment, the fact that he was a man capable of great and strong decisions but also capable of being so gentle and loving," said Pope Francis of Faber in a recent interview.

The really interesting part about this canonization, though, is that it is set to be done through a process called "equivalent canonization." This is when the pope omits the normal judicial and ceremonial processes and simply orders that the saint-to-be be added to the Church's universal calendar for veneration. In other words, there will not be a formal ceremony of canonization for Faber but, due to the fact that he has been popularly venerated for a long time and that the sanctity of his life is under no real questions by historians, etc., Pope Francis will omit the final steps in the regular canonization process and simply declare Faber to be a saint.

Equivalent canonization is a rare departure from the Church's normal "saint-making" protocol: during his pontificate, Bl. Pope John II made such declarations only three times, and Pope Benedict did so only once. Pope Francis is supposedly set to move forward with Bl. Peter Faber's canonization next month.

So, the next time one of your Protestant friends dismissively attacks the Catholic process of sainthood as being something that "the pope just declares," ...evidently sometimes they're right.