The Modern Church & Canonization

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There is a lot of criticism from some traditionalist Catholics, e.g. John Vennari, on the Vatican’s post-Vatican II canonizations.  There are two major arguments.

Modern saints like Teresa of Calcutta and Josemaria Escriva did not perform miracles in their earthly lives.  Many pre-Vatican II saints, especially pre-Congregation had no records of performing miracles during their earthly lives.  In fact little is known about them.  Examples include Saints Stephen the Protomartyr, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Lucy, Cecilia, etc.  The fact is that the process of canonization has changed over time.  Initially only martyrs and few other exceptions (e.g. the Blessed Virgin Mary) were venerated by the Church and at first the process was on a local scale with the bishop inquiring witnesses of these saints what lives they led; initially these saints were venerated by the particular Church the saint came from, but over time bishops of other Churches granted permission to celebrate these same saints, only for the cultus of many saints spreading throughout the universal Church.  There was nothing mandating that a saint perform miracles in their lifetime.

These saints are hastily canonized.  Many pre-Vatican II saints were also quickly canonized.  Saint Peter Martyr was canonized 11 months after his martyrdom, making him the fastest canonized saint in Church history.  Then there is Saint Anthony of Padua, the second fastest canonized saint (13 months after his death).  Saint Francis of Assisi was canonized less than two years after his death.  Saint Clare of Assisi was canonized two years after her death.  All these saints were canonized in less time than Teresa of Calcutta and Josemaria Escriva.  There is no time limit for a Catholic to be canonized.

Bias does certainly come into play and while we all have biases, some of which are good, there is such thing as letting our bias blind in such a way as to keep us from seeing the truth.  In the case of modern canonizations, some are so skeptical of the Vatican that it sees any move by the Vatican as political in nature.  While I would agree that to some extent its move is political or based on ecumenism or interfaith dialogue (e.g. complimenting Islam or the Reformers), we have to look at things rationally and not assume everything is a particular way.

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