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Devil's Advocate role eliminated from canonization process
Question from Fabiana on 2/22/2003:

Why did Pope John Paul II get rid of Devil's Advocate in the canonization process? The Devil's Advocate provided fairness in the whole process. Now, the person who is helping to seek canonization of a candidate is the one who is given all the power to choose witnesses, etc.. That is like having the defense lawyer also be the prosecution lawyer. By the elimination of the Devil's Advocate role, we no longer have fairness in the whole process. Please let me know the reasoning behind the Pope's actions because I am really troubled by this. Thankyou.

Answer by Matthew Bunson on 2/23/2003:

Permit me to put your mind at ease. The traditional position of advocatus diaboli has not been ended by the Holy Father. A reform of the process of canonization has taken place in recent years, such as those announced by Pope John Paul II through his 1983 apostolic constitution Divinus Prefectionis Magistro. According to the present system, there are still two key officials appointed to examine the process: The realtor and the postulator. The realtor (or relator, reporter, who was the old advocatus diaboli) is still assigned the task of assembling the historic documentation of the particular location and era of the candidate, as well as the history of each place, era, and social milieu pertinent to the candidate’s life. In this way, the task has not changed, merely the title and the thrust of his task.

The candidate for sainthood is still subject to a very rigorous examination by officials and experts, their writings are examined for orthodoxy and fidelity to the Church’s teachings, and their actions in life are reviewed.

The postulator (from the Latin for postulare, asking or requesting), meanwhile still serves as the guiding force of the cause, moving it through the various stages of the process.

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