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Archbishop discusses how ‘offer of life’ came to be a recognized path to sainthood

July 18, 2017

The Secretary of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has written an article tracing the background of the Pope’s recent apostolic letter recognizing the “offer of life” as an official path to beatification and canonization, distinct from martyrdom, the heroic exercise of the virtues, and “equivalent canonization,” in which a Pope recognizes longstanding devotion.

Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci said that discussion of the issue arose within the Congregation and that Cardinal Angelo Amato, the Congregation’s prefect, sought and received approval from Pope Francis in 2014 to formally study the possibility of recognizing this distinct path.

The question was subsequently examined at a conference of consultors and postulators and then by the prelates who are members of the Congregation. The majority agreed that the “offer of life” should become a distinct path, and the majority also agreed that formal recognition of a miracle attributed to the Servant of God’s intercession should be required before beatification.

Citing the example of persons in earlier times who volunteered to minister to plague victims, knowing that doing so would likely bring death, Archbishop Bartolucci said that “the path of the offer of life, indeed, partially resembles that of martyrdom because there is a heroic gift of self, up to and including death, but it is distinguishable because there is no persecutor who seeks to impose the choice against Christ.”

The prelate continued:

Similarly, the path of the offer of life resembles that of heroic virtues because there is a heroic act of charity (the gift of self) inspired by Christ’s example, but it is distinguishable because it is not the expression of a prolonged exercise of virtues and, in particular, of heroic charity. However, it requires an ordinary exercise of Christian life, which makes possible and comprehensible the free and voluntary decision to give one’s own life in a supreme act of Christian love, which surpasses the natural instinct of self-preservation, by imitating Christ, who offered himself to the Father for the world, on the Cross.

 
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  • Posted by: rpp - Jul. 19, 2017 11:28 AM ET USA

    So does this mean that soldiers killed in action would qualify for sainthood? Or perhaps they need to posthumously be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor first?

  • Posted by: feedback - Jul. 18, 2017 9:32 AM ET USA

    St. Maximilian Kolbe died offering his life in exchange for the life of a fellow prisoner. Would his act of sacrifice be recognized today as martyrdom or offer of life?