What makes a ‘fast-track’ saint?

Many people have commented on the speed with which John Paul II seems to be progressing toward sainthood, with some raising questions about whether it’s appropriate. Over at the National Catholic Reporter, though, John Allen says that John Paul isn’t the first to travel quickly through the process — just ask St. Francis (18 months from death to canonization) or St. Anthony of Padua (less than a year).

In fact, since the canonization reforms of 1983, at least 20 beatifications could be defined as “fast-track,” according to Allen. He says there are five traits that most fast-track saints share:

First, most have an organization behind them fully committed to the cause, with both the resources and the political savvy to move the ball. . . .

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Second, several of the fast-track cases involve a “first,” usually to recognize either a specific geographical region or an underrepresented constituency. . . .

Third, there’s sometimes a political or cultural issue symbolized by these candidates that lends a perceived sense of urgency. . . .

Fourth, causes sometimes make the fast track because the sitting pope feels a personal investment. . . .

Fifth, fast-track cases generally enjoy overwhelming hierarchical support, both from the bishops of the region and in Rome.

Allen offers examples of saints fast-tracked for each of these particular reasons, adding that John Paul II’s case has them all in spades. At the very least, whatever other questions may linger for some about his papacy, John Paul’s situation isn’t a completely unique one.

It’s an interesting piece — read the whole thing here.


  • Margaret Cabaniss

    Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at SlowMama.com.

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