Vatican revises norms for examining alleged miracles

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

effort to ensure transparency as well as historical and scientific accuracy, Pope Francis has approved revised
norms for the Congregation for Saints’ Causes regarding medical consultations on
healings alleged to be miracles.

Among the regulations
published by the Vatican Sept. 23 was the requirement that the medical panel have a quorum of six experts and that a
two-thirds majority is needed to approve a statement declaring a healing has no
natural or scientific explanation.

Previously, the declaration — a key step in a pope’s
recognition of a miracle attributed to the intercession of a candidate for
sainthood — required the approval of a simple majority of the consultation team members

“The purpose of the regulation
is for the good of the (saints’)
causes, which can
never be separated from the historical and scientific truth of the alleged
miracles,” Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci, secretary of the congregation, said in a Sept. 23

Archbishop Bartolucci presided
over a seven-member
commission that began revising the regulations in September 2015 to update the norms
established by St. John Paul II in 1983. Except in the case of martyrs, in general two miracles
are needed for a person to be declared a saint — one for beatification and the
second for canonization.

The new regulations, which
were approved with the
pope’s mandate Aug. 24 by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of
state, also state that an alleged miracle “cannot be re-examined more than
three times.”

For each alleged miracle, the
Medical Consultation team is
comprised of a maximum of seven experts; when the promoter of a cause
appeals a negative judgment, a new team of physicians and medical experts must
be appointed, the new norms say. The members of each consultation will remain unknown to the postulator,
as the promotor of the specific cause called.

A presumed miracle is first reviewed by two
medical experts within the congregation, and with their recommendation is then sent
to the Medical Consultation team.

While the medical experts
receive compensation for their work, the new regulations state that they will only
be paid through wire transfer. Prior to the approval of the new norms, experts
were given the option to receive cash payments for their work.

Archbishop Bartolucci said
the regulations will further ensure that the consultations will be carried out
with “serenity, objectivity and complete security” by the medical

“This regulation
obviously concerns only the proper functioning of the Medical Consultation,
whose task is always more delicate, demanding and, thank God, appreciated
inside and outside the church,” he said.

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Follow Arocho on
Twitter: @arochoju.

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