The fourth path to sainthood deals with helping others in death.

A new path to Catholic sainthood has been introduced by Pope Francis. The path involves recognizing individuals who have sacrificed their own lives for the betterment of others. According to those intimately associated with the Catholic Church, the new category is a significant change in the saint- making procedures of Roman Catholic Church.

Before this measure was announced, becoming a saint as per the Catholic Church was limited to any one of three paths: dying for the faith or martyrdom, having a devout and saintly reputation, or living a life with Christian or heroic values. The last recent person to be canonized was Calcutta’s Mother Teresa for her humanitarian effort. That occurred in 2016.

The fourth category was added on July 12. It is called the ‘Oblato Vitae’. Translated into English, it means offering one’s life for no gain. According to the Vatican, it deals with people who accept their incoming death so that others can benefit from it.

As per the Vatican, the oblato vitae category has five principal criteria:

  1. One should voluntarily and freely offer one’s life. The person must heroically accept an imminent and sure death.
  2. There should be a nexus or a close relation between offering one’s life and premature death of a person who provides it.
  3. Christian virtues must be exercised prior to the subject sacrificing her or his life.
  4. There should be an existence of the fama sanctiatis or reputation for holiness applicable on a minimum part of subject for a little time post their death.
  5. A miracle must happen after the individual dies.
  6. According to Catholic News Agency, the Christians who have followed the teachings and the footsteps of Lord Jesus, are worthy of special honor and consideration if they have freely and voluntarily offered their own lives for others and did so until they die.

    Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci, the secretary of Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes, said that such a step is taken to promote the heroic Christian testimony, which until the present time, was not without any particular process. This was due to it not fitting within any instance of heroic or martyrdom virtues.

    The letter, written by Pope Francis which announced this new category, was called “Maiorem hac dilectionem”. The phrase was taken from a certain passage in Gospel of John. As per The Associated Press, people who can be included in the fourth category include persons who offer themselves as a substitute for a person condemned to death. Expectant mothers sick with fatal diseases who stop their own treatment so that their child can come to this earth.

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