Q. Who initiates saint causes for popes? Is the Vatican involved in that at all, or does it come from their diocese or somebody else?

A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:

In 1983, Pope John Paul II issued new norms for the process of beatification and canonization. These state that the process can begin five years after an individual’s death, a delay intended to foster an unprejudiced view of a person’s life.

The bishop of the location where the individual died initiates the process. When the Holy See approves beginning an investigation of the merits of the individual’s character, the bishop forms a committee to seek the testimony of witnesses, who are asked to describe the person’s exemplary Christian life.

The diocese sends this information to the Holy See’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. A postulator uses the information to prepare a summary document, and a panel of theologians vote on the merits of the case. If a majority votes favorably, the cause returns to the congregation. If the congregation votes favorably, the result is sent to the pope. When a miracle attributed to the individual’s intercession is verified, the pope may declare the individual “Blessed,” which entitles her or him to public veneration, usually where he or she lived. When another miracle can be proven, the individual can be declared a saint, and given the privilege of universal veneration.