Saturday, February 23, 2008

Lay People Need Lay Models

A response to: Instruction Stresses Need for Reputation of Sanctity

From the statistics given, of those 563 persons beatified -- and the 14 canonized -- under Benedict XVI, just a little over 5% were lay people, while they make up over 90% of Catholics. Only religious orders and dioceses have the funds to carry through the process, so, over 80% of those beatified belong to religious orders.

According to Paragraph 828 of the Catechism, by canonization the Church proposes the saints "as models and intercessors." As it is, religious orders already have more models to follow than they actually need, while there is a tremendous shortage of lay models and confessors for lay people in various roles.

The reforms introduced might be needed to simplify and streamline the procedure, but it does little to open up the process of beatification to deserving lay people, parents who work hard in their important role as teachers, workers, and the hundreds of other Catholics who should serve as beatified role models for the other hundreds of millions of lay people, but whose families lack the funds that rich dioceses or religious orders have.

If a lay person, searching for lay models, may make proposals, I would suggest further reforms: Set up and finance a pontifical commission to search for lay confessors, and insist that no more than half of those beatified in a given year be from the clergy and religious orders.

As a retired college professor living in the United States, a husband for over 50 years, a father of seven and grandfather of 19, I cannot find a proper role model and intercessor for myself in any of these roles, or for my children and grandchildren among either the American saints, or those 563 beatified by the Holy Father. Yet, the small numbers of religious are getting more and more models and intercessors. I think, with all the attention paid to ecumenism, the Church, more specifically the Vatican, should pay more attention to the needs of her own flock.

In Christ,

Sandor Balogh, Ph. D., Prof. emeritus

Matt Talbot would certainly be a deserving lay person for the millions affected by alcoholism worldwide. (JB)