Catholic News reports that the General Roman Calendar, the universal schedule of holy days and feast days for the Latin rite of the Catholic Church, is so packed that more selectivity is needed, according to new norms and a commentary published in the official bulletin of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
Pope Benedict has approved the stricter guidelines for determining which saints will be remembered with mandatory feast days on the basis of recommendations from the congregation, the commentary said.
"A saint can be inserted in the general calendar because of the significant and universal importance of his or her spiritual message and effectiveness as an example for a broad category of members of the church," the norms say.
According to the new norms, special consideration will also be given to saints from countries not already represented in the general calendar and from underrepresented categories, such as laypeople, married couples and parents.
But ten years should have passed since the canonization ceremony to ensure ongoing, widespread devotion.
The process for adding a candidate is begin with a two-thirds favorable vote from the bishops' conference where the saint was born, lived or died. In addition, the congregation will ask the opinion of at least three other bishops' conferences on different continents.
"The numerous beatifications and canonizations celebrated in the past few years by the supreme pontiff have underlined concretely the multiple manifestations of holiness in the church," the commentary said.
But, it said, hundreds of new saints also has meant greater competition for the limited free dates on the universal calendar, dates used to remember saints with a local importance and to keep the tradition of remembering Mary on Saturdays not already dedicated to an obligatory feast.
The year does not have enough days to include all the saints in the universal calendar, particularly when Sundays and holy days are subtracted.
"It will be difficult in the future to make further additions if certain criteria are not rigorously applied," the norms conclude.
Pope OKs stricter norms for mandatory feast days in church calendar (Catholic News, 14/5/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Roman Catholic calendar of saints (Wikipedia)
Calendar for 2007 (Universalis)
15 May 2007