September 9, 1997 in Nation/World

Road To Sainthood Is A Long One

Chicago Tribune

Even though Pope John Paul II often spoke of Mother Teresa as a saint, it is considered highly unlikely the church would break with precedent and move to canonize her quickly.

Many Roman Catholics revered Mother Teresa as a living saint, and there is little doubt the pope views her as a strong candidate for eventual sainthood, but the formal process of canonization takes years.

It can begin only after the candidate has been dead for five years. At that point, the local bishop can initiate the process by appointing a tribunal to interview those who knew the candidate.

The tribunal gathers evidence of the person’s saintliness, as well as evidence of behavior that might be less than saintly.

If the bishop is convinced of the candidate’s saintliness, his recommendation is sent to the Vatican.

The final decision rests with the pontiff.

And John Paul II, always the innovator, has prodded this particularly slow-moving piece of Vatican machinery to step up its productivity. He has canonized 278 people and beatified 768 during the 19 years of his papacy, nearly double the number consecrated by all his predecessors in the 20th Century.

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