For many, even in the Church, the Catholic practice of beatifying and canonizing is an enigma. Why does the Church do it? How does the Church do it? What are the implications of being canonized, or in the case of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, beatified?

Cause For Beatification

According to an ancient theological axiom grace builds on nature. For this reason the Church is very careful to exhaust the human and reasonable means of determining the sanctity of a person before relying on supernatural ones. As noted earlier the papal canonization process quickly developed certain procedures which had to be followed in the diocese and in Rome, such as the collecting of evidence, of testimonies of witnesses and the writing of a critical biography. By the fourteenth century two regular processes were in place, the Cause for Beatification and the Cause for Canonization. The first, when successfully concluded, allowed some measure of veneration of the Blessed by the faithful, in his or her diocese, by a religious order, by a nation. The second permitted universal veneration of the Saint by the Church. The concluding stage of each was conducted in the form of a trial, with sides for or against. The office of the Promoter of the Faith or Devil's Advocate, who argued against the Servant of God, dates from this era.

The Processes have gone through several revisions and refinements over the centuries, including two recent ones, under Pope Paul VI in 1969 and under Pope John Paul II in 1983. Included in Pope Paul's reforms were the consolidation of the processes into a single Cause for Canonization. Notable in those of Pope John Paul II was the elimination of the Devil's Advocate, as well as many procedural changes.