Pope Francis has introduced a new path to Catholic sainthood — one that recognizes those who perform extraordinary acts of self-sacrifice.
1. "The free and voluntary offering of one’s life, and heroic acceptance propter caritatem of a certain and soon-to-come death."
2. "There must be a 'close relation' between 'the offering of one's life and the premature death of the one who offers it.'"
3. "The exercise, at least in ordinary degree, of the Christian virtues before the subject’s offering of his or her life and, afterward, perseverance in those virtues unto death."
4. "The existence of fama sanctitatis – i.e. the reputation for holiness – on the part of the subject, and of signs [in confirmation thereof], at least after death."
5. "The necessity, for beatification, of a miracle, one that occurred after the death of the Servant of God, and by said Servant’s intercession."
As the AP notes, "examples of people who might fall into that category include those who take the place of someone condemned to death or expectant mothers with fatal diseases who suspend treatment so their babies can be born."
In other words, the person has to have freely offered their own life at risk of death, they have to have had a close relationship with the person they're sacrificing for, the person has to have shown Christian values prior to the act, as well has having "a reputation for holiness." Oh, and they have to have performed a miracle at some point in their lives.
For one, a person had to have been killed for the faith (martyrdom), have a strong reputation for religious devotion, or lived a live of "heroic Christian virtues." Not exactly an easy feat, any of these — but then again, nothing worth having is ever easy.
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