Cory Gawing Santo
It was Bulgar‘s headline that can be understood in two ways 1. that Corry Aquino will be canonized as saint, which will automatically make the headline grammatically flawed as it is already in “pangnagdaan” or the past test; or 2. as an imperative to the effect that the paper, Bulgar, a Tagalog tabloid known for its sensationalized local showbiz coverage and its steamy sex stories] is calling for an unknown authority to make the late former president a saint.
The previous post I wrote on Cory’s death is currently one of the featured blogs in the president’s website. Everyone is in a state of utter shock and to make up for this every Filipino is in a state of religiousity only achieved whenever the nation is challenged by calamities, political upheaval, controversial showbiz happenings, or death of a leader. And so everyone is calling for Cory’s sainthood without understanding the complicated process of canonization.
Canonization, whether formal or informal, does not make someone a saint: it is only a declaration that the person is a saint and was a saint even before canonization.
Pope John Paul II’s apostolic constitution Divinus Perfectionis Magister of 25 January 1983 and the norms issued by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on 7 February 1983 for its implementation on diocesan level continued the work of simplification already initiated by Pope Paul VI.
Servant of God. The process leading towards canonization begins at the diocesan level. A bishop with jurisdiction—usually the bishop of the place where the candidate died or is buried, although another ordinary can be given this authority—gives permission to open an investigation into the virtues of the individual, responding to a petition by members of the faithful, either actually or pro formal. This investigation may open no sooner than five years after the death of the person being investigated. However, the pope has the authority to waive this five year waiting period, as was done for Mother Teresa by Pope John Paul II and for John Paul II himself by his immediate successor, Benedict XVI. Normally, a guild or organization to promote the cause of the candidate’s sainthood is created, an exhaustive search of the candidate’s writings, speeches and sermons is undertaken, a detailed biography is written and eyewitness accounts are gathered. When sufficient information has been gathered, the investigation of the candidate, who is called “Servant of God”, is presented by the local bishop to the Roman Curia—the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints—where it is assigned a postulator, whose task is to gather further information about the life of the Servant of God.
Cory Aquino was a close friend of Bishop Soc Villanueva who may give permission to look into Cory’s life as a Christian. Still five years will have to be waited unless Pope Benedict 14th waive this. I am not aware if they have prior correspondence but granting that the Pope watches CNN or BBC, the first stage is good to go. Or we can wait for five years, which is a bad idea if we consider the propensity of Filipinos to forget everything after a month.
Declaration ‘Non Cultus’. At some point, permission is then granted for the body of the Servant of God to be exhumed and examined, a certification (“non cultus”) that no superstitious or heretical worship or improper cult has grown up around the servant or his or her tomb is made, and relics are taken.
The body of Cory was not cremated so it follows that exhumation of the body will not stall this process. And as far as public knowledge is concerned, she was never an animist nor did she question the Church’s teachings. She was a faithful daughter of the Roman Catholic Church.
Venerable/Heroic in Virtue. When enough information has been gathered, the congregation will recommend to the pope that he make a proclamation of the Servant of God’s heroic virtue (that is, that the servant exhibited the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, and the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance, to an heroic degree). From this point the one said to be “heroic in virtue” is referred to by the title “Venerable”. A Venerable has as of yet no feast day, no churches may be built in his or her honor, and the church has made no statement on the person’s probable or certain presence in heaven, but prayer cards and other materials may be printed to encourage the faithful to pray for a miracle wrought by his or her intercession as a sign of God’s will that the person be canonized.
Aquino being considered as a national hero may, in a way, allow us to deduce that she has heroic virtues. Easy.
“Blessed” Beatification is a statement by the church that it is “worthy of belief” that the person is in heaven, having come to salvation. This step depends on whether the Venerable is a martyr or a “confessor”.
For a martyr, the pope has only to make a declaration of martyrdom, a certification that the venerable gave his or her life voluntarily as a witness for the faith and/or in an act of heroic charity for others. This allows beatification, giving the venerable the new title “Blessed” (abbreviated “Bl.”) or, in Latin, Beatus or Beata. A feast day will be designated, but its observance is normally restricted to the Blessed’s home diocese, to certain locations associated with him or her, and/or to the churches or houses of the blessed’s religious order, if they belonged to one. Parishes may not normally be named in honor of a Blessed.
If the Venerable was not a martyr – all non-martyrs are “confessors” as they “confessed” or bore witness to their faith by how they lived their lives – it must be proven that a miracle has taken place by his or her intercession – that is, that God has shown a sign that the person is enjoying the Beatific Vision by God performing a miracle in response to the Blessed’s prayers. Today, these miracles are almost always miraculous cures, as these are the easiest to establish based on the Catholic Church’s requirements for a “miracle.” (The patient was sick, there was no known cure for the ailment, prayers were directed to the Venerable, the patient was cured, the cure was spontaneous, instantaneous, complete and lasting, and doctors cannot find any natural explanation.)
But since she did not die as a martyr, we’ll have to look into the second part of the mechanics. She must have performed miracles. (Please refer to the example.) At this point it is clear that the cononization will be a failure since there has been no report that she indeed performed “spontaneous, instantaneous, complete, and lasting” cure to whatever illness when she was still living.
“Saint” (abbreviated “St” and “S.”) To be canonized a saint, one (more) miracle is necessary. Canonization is a statement by the church that the person certainly enjoys the Beatific Vision. The saint is assigned a feast day which may be celebrated anywhere within the Catholic Church, although it may or may not appear on the general calendar or local calendars as an obligatory feast, parish churches may be built in his or her honor, and the faithful may freely and without restriction celebrate and honor the saint.
Although a recognition of sainthood by the pope does not directly concern a fact of divine revelation, it must still be “definitively held” by the faithful as infallible under (at the very least) the Universal Magisterium of the Church since it is a truth connected to revelation by historical necessity.
Nah. This one is too technical to be helpful.
As of press time Bulgar’s headline is a pipe dream.