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VATICAN-SAINTS Sep-29-2005 (350 words) xxxi

Vatican announces formally that pope won't preside at beatifications

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While the Vatican continues studying theological and pastoral issues surrounding the rites of beatification and canonization, Pope Benedict XVI will preside only over the canonization ceremonies, the Vatican said.

A formal announcement of the change, which Pope Benedict instituted at the beginning of his pontificate, was published Sept. 29 in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.

The communique from the Congregation for Saints' Causes said that while the study of the rites continues Pope Benedict will preside over canonizations, but beatifications, "which are still a pontifical act, will be celebrated by a representative of the Holy Father, who normally will be the prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes," Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins.

"The rite of beatification will take place in the diocese which promoted the cause of the new blessed or in another suitable location," including the Vatican, with the approval of the Secretariat of State, it said.

Normally, it said, the beatification should take place in the context of the Mass or Eastern Catholics' Divine Liturgy.

Explaining the new policy and the concerns of the Vatican's study, Cardinal Saraiva Martins said there appeared to be a pastoral need to re-emphasize the "clear and essential" difference between beatification and canonization.

At a canonization, the pope issues a formal decree recognizing the candidate's holiness and permitting public remembrance of the candidate at liturgies throughout the church, the cardinal wrote in L'Osservatore Romano.

With a beatification, the pope concedes permission for limited public remembrances, usually among members of the candidate's religious order or in the diocese where the candidate lived and worked.

"The recent decision of the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, not to preside personally over the rites of beatification, responds to a widely perceived need to underline more strongly in the celebration the substantial difference between beatification and canonization and more visibly involve the particular churches in the beatification rites of their 'servants of God,'" the cardinal wrote.

Despite the local celebration, he said, a beatification is still a papal act and, therefore, must be coordinated with the Vatican.


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