Saintly caution: Church’s reputation on the line when judging sanctity

Saints Skeleton In Closet

Title: Saintly caution: Church’s reputation on the line when judging sanctity
Author: Junno Arocho Esteves
Publisher: National Catholic Reporter
Date: 22JUL2020

VATICAN CITY — In the Catholic Church, a person’s canonization is almost always preceded by decades of meticulous investigation into the minute details of the candidate’s life.Thousands of saints have been raised to the altars after these thorough investigations, while the causes of many other candidates are usually suspended or closed when there is insufficient evidence of one’s sanctity or the lack of miracle.

Yet, there are also causes that have been closed or delayed due to doubts or, worse, due to proverbial “skeletons in the closet” uncovered during the investigation into candidates’ lives.

The delay in the sainthood cause of Fr. Joseph Kentenich, founder of the Schonstatt movement, was the most recent example of that last scenario, after allegations of abuse uncovered during an apostolic visitation in the early 1950s were made public July 2.

His cause was opened in 1975 in the Diocese of Trier, Germany, and was in the diocesan phase, which is the first step in a candidate’s cause before it is sent to Rome for further investigation.

German scholar Alexandra von Teuffenbach, a former professor of church history at Rome’s Pontifical Regina Apostolorum University, discovered documents in the recently opened archives of the pontificate of Pope Pius XII that revealed allegations of sexual abuse and abuse of power against Kentenich.

The revelations led German Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier to announce July 7 the formation of a historical commission charged with collecting and studying the new evidence found in the Vatican Apostolic Archives concerning Kentenich, to determine whether to proceed with his cause.

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