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Pope Francis approves new rules to monitor cash spent in sainthood process

By Doug G. Ware   |   March 10, 2016 at 5:20 PM
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VATICAN CITY, March 10 (UPI) -- When it comes to evaluating candidates for sainthood, Pope Francis wants the process to be better regulated out of concerns for transparency and fiscal responsibility, the Vatican said Thursday.

The pontiff has given preliminary approval to implementing new rules to govern the vetting of potential sainthood candidates.

Since ascending to the papacy in 2013, Pope Francis has attempted to establish a reputation as a reformer in the church -- particularly regarding controversial issues like corruption and allegations of sexual abuse.

Vatican officials receive large donations to aid in the vetting of potential saint candidates, but before the rule change no regulations existed to examine the donations or dictate how they are spent. The pope's new rule introduces external oversight of the money involved, BBC News reported Thursday.

Under the new rules, donors backing a candidate for sainthood pay for the services of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Vatican branch responsible for reviewing potential candidates.

Pope Francis has issued approval ad experimentum, which means the new rules will exist for an initial period of three years.

The change follows the publications of two books written by Italian journalists, which outlined the supposed lack of oversight in the sainthood vetting process.

Vatican officials said of particular concern is the so-called "Roman phase" of the process, which occurs after the collection of a candidate's background materials at the diocese level and the preparation of the "position papers" regarding any potential saint candidate.

Because the sainthood process is so detailed, lengthy and can involve a lot of travel, it can be quite expensive for the Vatican to reach the final phase.

The main purpose of the new rules, officials said, is to establish a daily accounting of the money, outline punitive measures for the misuse of funds, and determine what should become of any remaining money after the process is complete.

The new rule also creates a "solidarity fund," which can help finance portions of the sainthood process if a need exists.

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