by Gordon Nary
Gordon: Where did you study to be a lawyer, and what was the most challenging course that you took, and why was it so challenging?
Cristiana: In Italy after the High School a student can go the University. I came from a Liceo Classico where I’ve learn Latin and Ancient Greek: a big treasure for my life and for my future job too. When I was 19 years old it was not clear for me what my future job would have been, but I knew that for me concrete justice was important as I’ve learned from John Paul II (remember the the high measure of daily holiness?).
So I’ve started the University of Law in Rome at the main public University ‘Università degli Studi di Roma – La Sapienza’. During this path I fell in love with Canon Law and after the Degree (1997) in Law I have decided to study Canon Law at the Pope’s University (Pontifical Lateranensis University) where I took a Doctoratus (2001).
In 1998, my spiritual father told me that I had always to remember that my own intelligence was a gift at service of people so, if I really wanted keep on studying, I had also to became a lawyer for the Italian law AND study Canon Law in the meanwhile to help every person who may have needed my job in the future.
That is how I started to practice and became a lawyer and highly specialized in Canon Law in the same time. Consider that I was young and my parents supported me in every moment. At that time I didn’t have a family to look after.
Anyway, at some point, I have decided to follow the classes to became Postulator for Causes of Saints (2001-2002) I took an entire year of break from my job (I was already a lawyer at the time) to follow daily classes.
You can not split me in lawyer, canon lawyer, criminal lawyer, family lawyer and Postulator for Causes of Saints. It is always me putting my studies and degrees and experience at disposal of the Church, of whomever may need it.
The most challenging course for me was Methodologia. A German Professor tried to teach me a punctual and precise method in writing scientific (juridical) articles. It was hard for me since I prefer to work with people and help them solve their problems.
Gordon: What classes were you requited to take to be a Postulator for Causes of Saints?
Cristiana: At the time we had three different parts of classes: theological, hagiographic and juridical. At the time there were daily classes for 8 months.
Gordon: When were you appointed Postulator for Causes of Saints for the Vatican and what are your primary responsibilities?
Cristiana: I became Postulator after the due examinations on April 3rd 2002.
You are not appointed as Postulator. I mean that when you became Postulator you are allowed to to bring and pursue a cause, but you are not hired by the Congregation of the Causes of the Saints nor by the Vatican. You are and you remain a freelancer who still has to gain experience.
Gordon: What are some of the challenges of being a Postulator for Causes of Saints and how do you address them?
Cristiana: So far, I’ve never led a Postulation alone, as I think it as a Team Job.
What I prefer most is how serious and challenging is to investigate about virtues of a Servant of God. Following the procedures and guaranteeing the finding of sufficient proof by applying legal methods, allows for the truth and the beauty of a particular life to be carried out concretely.
The challenge is to seek and find out how God talks to us continuously through the saints who always spreads all over the world.
Gordon: What were the primary changes that the Vatican introduced for the declaration of a saint in 2021?
Cristiana: The challenge is the hermeneutic of continuity to innovate continuously in the wake of tradition.
On October 21st 2021, the regulation for Postulators entered into force. The 86 points are only a part of the wider reform of the administration of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which began in 2016, they are a guideline and the purpose is prevent any conflict of interest and increase transparency.
Postulator can be clergy, religious men or women, or lay people (we actually are 400). According to the norms, the role can be filled by “any faithful Catholic of proven integrity, who has adequate knowledge of theology, canon law, and history, as well as the practice of the dicastery.”
Other requisites are a diploma from the School of Higher Formation in the Causes of the Saints and being under the age of 80. The regulations states that any Postulator may have no more than 30 open cases at one time, though an exception is made for the postulator of a religious congregation.
As I’ve already told you, the rules clarify that a postulator is not a salaried employee of the Vatican and can receive a “just compensation” for his or her work. Some postulators, such as those of religious congregations, may also choose to fulfill the role without receiving payment.
According to the norms, Postulators cannot be treasurers or administrators of funds donated to sainthood causes.
The document also protect the information gathered about the sainthood cause under investigation: it will remain confidential until 50 years after the inquiry concludes.
Gordon: Thank you for an illuminating interview that I know will be of interest to many of our readers.