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Maiorem hac dilectionem (Latin for 'Greater love than this') is an apostolic letter issued in the form of a motu proprio of Pope Francis, dated 11 July 2017.The document creates a new path towards sainthood under the canonization procedures of the Roman Catholic Church, through the path of oblatio vitae . This means the offering of one's life and premature death for another individual; it is to give one's life as a sacrifice for another.
Francis first states that there is no greater love than for one to sacrifice his own life for his friends and neighbors while drawing from a particular passage from John 15:13. He mentions that such an act warrants consideration for the causes of saints since the individual is held as one who has exercised the Christian virtues to an apt degree but do not fit into the established categories of practicing Christian virtues to a heroic degree and the deliberate shedding of blood for Jesus Christ.
The Pope therefore establishes five guidelines that must be established for an "oblatio vitae" (the offer of life) path to beatification. The criteria are:
The criteria are still to abide by the Apostolic Constitution of Divinus perfectionis Magister that Pope John Paul II issued in 1983 and by another document issued around that time.
The question as to whether a fourth path to sainthood could be established arose in discussions amongst the members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at their ordinary congress held on 24 January 2014. The congregation's prefect Cardinal Angelo Amato called this matter into question with the pope during their meeting on the following 7 February. According to Marcello Bartolucci the pope "approved and encouraged" the studies into this fourth path in which a dossier was compiled for further research.
The congregation held a peculiar congress on 2 June 2016 with several experts present for further discussions including ten consulters and five postulators including the meeting's chairperson Bishop Enrico dal Covolo who was also a postulator. Five questions were put forward as to how the congregation could institute a new path for beatification and the criteria that would need to be put in place so as to enforce it. On 27 September the plenary session of the cardinal and bishop members of the congregation discussed the various dimensions to the overall issue and a favorable vote was cast for this new path to sainthood though the need for an approved miracle was highlighted as an essential feature. The conclusions of this session was sent to the pope in a letter dated on 28 November 2016.
The Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin informed Cardinal Amato on 17 January that the past 10 January the pope had approved the proposals for a new path for beatification while asking the congregation to draft the text for a document to make the approval formal.
Marcello Bartolucci wrote a piece for L'Osservatore Romano following the document's release and outlined the fact that the pope:
"... has opened the path to beatification for those faithful who, inspired by charity, have heroically offered their life for their neighbor, free and voluntarily accepting certain and untimely death in their determination to follow Jesus ..."
Bartolucci further elaborated on the criteria and said that the three other paths to sainthood (martyrdom and heroic virtue as well as equipollent beatification) were not sufficient enough to interpret all potential causes for saintliness in individuals while recounting that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints had discussed whether a new path would be viable.
Canonization is the declaration of a deceased person as an officially recognized saint, specifically, the official act of a Christian communion declaring a person worthy of public cult and entering his or her name in the canon, or authorized list, of that communion's recognized saints.
Pope Paul VI was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 21 June 1963 to his death in 1978. Succeeding John XXIII, he continued the Second Vatican Council, which he closed in 1965, implementing its numerous reforms, and fostered improved ecumenical relations with Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches, which resulted in many historic meetings and agreements.
The Roman Curia comprises the administrative institutions of the Holy See and the central body through which the affairs of the Catholic Church are conducted. It acts in the pope's name and with his authority for the good and for the service of the particular churches and provides the central organization for the church to advance its objectives.
In the Catholic Church, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints is the congregation of the Roman Curia that oversees the complex process that leads to the canonization of saints, passing through the steps of a declaration of "heroic virtues" and beatification. After preparing a case, including the approval of miracles, the case is presented to the Pope, who decides whether or not to proceed with beatification or canonization. This is one of nine Vatican Curial congregations.
The process of beatification and canonization has undergone various reforms in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. For current practice, as well as a discussion of similar processes in other churches, see the article on canonization. This article describes the process as it was before the promulgation of the Codex Iuris Canonici of 1983.
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The term no greater love is derived from a well-known verse of the New Testament : "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends", often invoked in the context of self-sacrifice. This specific excerpt can refer to:
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Oblatio vitae, meaning "the free offering of [one's] life", is a category under which a person may be declared "Blessed" under the canonisation procedures of the Roman Catholic church.
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