Pope Francis adds new pathway to sainthood

Pope Francis waves from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square during his Angelus prayer, at the Vatican, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

(ABC News) — Pope Francis has added a fourth pathway to possible sainthood.

Until now, gaining consideration for sainthood in the Catholic Church required martyrdom, living a life of heroic values or — less frequently invoked — having a clear saintly reputation.

The Vatican announced Tuesday that the pope has issued a new law outlining a new route: people who lived a good Catholic life and who freely accepted a certain and premature death for the good of others.

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While John Paul II streamlined the canonization process, L’Osservatore Romano noted that the norms for beatification have been in place for centuries.

Under the new category, a miracle must be attributed to the candidate’s intercession prior to beatification, the first step toward canonization as a saint. Martyrdom, which stipulates being killed out of hatred for the faith, does not require a miracle.

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