- March 
- March 
Benedict applies a gentle brake to saint-making
Monday December 21, 2009
MARY MacKillop's canonisation will take place under Pope Benedict XVI's policy of restoring solemnity to canonisations.His approach differs from that of his predecessor, John Paul II, who tended to cancel the distinction between beatification, in which a person's accession to heaven and ability to intercede for others is recognised, and canonisation, in which one becomes a saint.He believed that as many nations as possible should have their saints, to correct the impression that heaven is populated by Italians, and that they should be as contemporary as possible. He also believed that lay people and married couples should be canonised to balance the shoals of saints from religious orders.The result was that he beatified and canonised more people than all his predecessors of the previous four centuries. Joseph Ratzinger, before becoming Benedict XVI, complained publicly that the inflation of saints was devaluing the currency.John Paul II held many of the ceremonies in St Peter's, but Benedict XVI has encouraged beatifications at local level by bishops of the place where the person died rather than holding them in Rome.For beatification, one cure for which no scientific explanation can be found is needed, but for canonisation the requirement is a second miracle which must occur after the beatification.It did not seem a great difference to John Paul II but Benedict XVI has a different perspective.He has the more traditional view that beatification is a papal concession to allow veneration of the beatified at the local level but that canonisation involves full papal authority in endorsing veneration throughout the church universal.When Benedict XVI visits Britain early next year he is expected to beatify the 19th-century convert from Anglicanism John Henry Newman, an eloquent defender of the rights of conscience who is much admired by Benedict XVI.Some candidates are blocked in the saint-recognition process for decades while evidence is gathered or miracles are awaited.It is exactly a century since the archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Moran, left Mary MacKillop's deathbed expressing the conviction she was a saint.Evidence began to be gathered in Sydney in 1925 but the case only reached Rome in 1973.In contrast, 17th-century reformer Pope Innocent XI was on hold for 267 years. He was beatified in 1956.