The reform of the Roman Curia, desired by Pope Francis, is making progress. Today, Bergoglio approved a “spending review” on the rules “concerning the administration of the goods destined to the Cause of beatification and canonization”, abrogating the ones promulgated by Saint John Paul II, establishing that the Apostolic See “bears the costs” of the Roman phase, with the contribution of the promoters, “controlling that the expenses are low and do not impede the continuation of the process.” In addition, the system “check and balance” has been strengthened, making distinction between the role of the “Administrator” and that of the “postulator”, while incrementing also the accounting procedures, and strengthening the role of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints as “high supervision authority.”
The old rules, issued by John Paul II on August 20, 1982, were abrogated in the course of a hearing to the Cardinal Secretary of State Parolin last Friday. The documents annexed to a rescript signed by the Prefect and the Secretary of the Congrgation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, and Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci, have been published today by Osservatore Romano and will take effect “ad experimentum” for three years from the date of their approval.
The premise of the papal document, divided into six points, says: “The causes of beatification and canonization, which due to their complexity require a lot of work, imply costs to spread knowledge about the figure of the Servant of God or the Saint, for the diocesan or eparchial inquiry, for the Roman phase, and finally for the beatification or canonization celebrations. As to the Roman phase, the Apostolic See, given the peculiar nature of public good of the Cause, bears the costs, in which the Claimants participate with a contribution, and ensures that the fees and expenses are low and do not obstruct the continuation.”
The first chapter emphasizes the presence of a postulator who promotes the cause but, unlike indicated in “rules to be observed in diocesan inquiries in the causes of saints”, issued by the same ministry on February 7, 1983, this figure is distinguished from that of the Administrator. The latter, as stated in the second chapter, has the task to “scrupulously respect the intention of the bidders; keep regularly updated accounts; annually prepare financial statements, budget (by 30 September) and final (31 March), to be submitted to the Claimant for approval; send a copy of the budgets approved by the Claimant to the Postulator”. Whereas general postulations “keep the accounts of the individual Causes separate” and if the Claimant intends to use even a part of the property for purposes other than these of the cause” has to obtain the permission of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.”
The supervisory authorities, that is, the bishop, the major superior or ‘another ecclesiastical authority (third Chapter) have control of “all the movements related to the cause, both incoming and outgoing” and “annually revise and approve budgets of the Cause and send a copy to the Congregation for the causes of Saints”. Besides, the department has the role of “high supervising authority” on all financial information, checks the budget, and during the Roman phase, the “fees and all the other expenses according to the decisions of the Congregation”. “In case of default or administrative and financial abuse, by those involved in carrying out the Cause”, it “takes disciplinary action”.
In the Fourth Chapter, the approved document regulates the “claimant’s contribution to the Apostolic See”, specifying the details, such as the calculation that “the contributions, which do not include the cost of printing the Positio, must be received by bank transfer on the account of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, to which you must send the document on the successful operation” and that “after the celebration of the beatification or canonization, the fund administrator makes a report on the overall administration of the goods for due approval”. At the end of the canonization, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints “uses the eventual remainder of the fund, taking into account the requests of the Claimant and the demands of the Solidarity Fund” to which the Claimant can apply for assistance, but only “in cases when there is actual difficulty to bear the costs of a Cause in the Roman phase”.
The Pope’s staff has been working on the question of the costs and of the accounting procedures for beatification and canonization since Bergoglio’s election. What was called “the factory of saints” during John Paul II’s pontificate, needed to be reviewed. Cardinal Amato announced in January 2014 on Osservatore Romano that the “reference tariff” with which postulators and claimant must comply came into force. The goal was eliminating “inequalities between causes.”
A cause for canonization, since the beginning till Mass at St. Peter, can cost up to $250,000. The costs may include the journey of the witnesses, the exhumation of the candidate, the publication of the “positio”, the expenses for theological, historical, and medical consultations, as well as the ceremonies. These calculations were made some time ago by the US Catholic News Agency. Msgr. Greg Mustaciuolo, postulator for the canonization of Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement, told that this Cause had a problem. Those who want to see Dorothy Day become a Saint “prefers to give their money to the poor.”