Regulations of the Medical Board of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints
The miracle, required for the Beatification of Servants of God and for the Canonization of those Beatified, was always examined with the strictest rigor. Already in medieval times recourse was made to Medical Experts for whom on September 17, 1743 Benedict XIV created a specific Guild. More recently, on October 20, 1948, Pius XII instituted within the Congregation of Sacred Rites a Commission of Doctors to which was added on December 15, 1948 a special Medical Council.
On July 10, 1959, John XXIII united these two groups into one Medical Board and approved its Regulations. In the light of new demands and based on the Apostolic Constitution Sacra Rituum Congregatio of May 8, 1969, another revision of the norms of the Regulations was instituted and approved by Paul VI on April 23, 1976.
The promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution Divinus perfectionis Magister of John Paul II on January 25, 1983, and the experience of the previous years of this Congregation show the necessity of once again updating the Regulations of the Medical Board.
For this purpose, the following norms of the Regulations of the Medical Board of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints have been written.
§ 1 A Guild of Medical Experts is established in the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints for the examination of healings that are proposed as miraculous for the Beatification of Servants of God and of the Canonization of those who are Beatified.
§ 2 In case of necessity the Congregation can call upon Medical Experts ad casum who are not part of the Guild of Medical Experts.
When it is a question of presumed miraculous cases that are not healings (for example, escape from danger, multiplications, etc.), the Congregation nominates competent Technical Experts. The Technical Board proceeds in a manner analogous to the Medical Board.
§ 1 Medical Experts of proven competence and moral character may be inscribed in the Guild mentioned in Article 1 § 1.
§ 2 Inscription in the Guild of Medical Experts is made for a term of five years by a letter of nomination of the Prefect of the Congregation. The nomination may be renewed in the same manner.
§ 3 Before exercising his office, the Medical Expert swears an oath de munere bene adimplendo et secreto servando.
§ 1 The President of the Medical Board is nominated by the Prefect of the Congregation, having previously consulted the Members of the Guild of Medical Experts.
§ 2 The President is nominated for a term of five years and may be confirmed only once.
§ 3 The President presides at the Medical Board with the right to vote and directs its discussion. Furthermore, he prepares written opinions upon request of the Congregation.
§ 4 The Secretary of the Medical Board, chosen from among those Experts inscribed in the Guild, is nominated for a term of five years by the Prefect of the Congregation and may be confirmed at the end of every term.
§ 5 The Secretary of the Medical Board prepares the Minutes and the Report of the session of the Medical Board in which he participates without the right to vote.
§ 6 If necessary, the Superiors of the Congregation may nominate from time to time a Secretary ad casum for the session of the Medical Board.
§ 7 The functions of the Relator of miracles, foreseen by II, 8 of the Apostolic Constitution Divinus perfectionis Magister, are performed by the Undersecretary of the Congregation.
The Doctors inscribed in the Guild of Medical Experts, if charged, are expected: a) to write a medical-legal opinion; b) to participate in the Medical Board; c) to resolve doubts and to clarify eventual objections of a technical-scientific order that are raised during the examination of the case.
§ 1 Any contact with the Promoter and the Postulator of the Cause under examination is prohibited to those Doctors nominated.
§ 2 For any clarification or request for documents, the Doctors charged must contact exclusively the office of the Undersecretary of the Congregation.
The Medical Expert, who for any reason has dealt with the case, may not be nominated by the Congregation for further tasks in the same case during its Roman phase.
§ 1 The Secretary of the Congregation, upon the proposal of the Undersecretary, chooses, normally from among those inscribed in the Guild, two ex officio Experts who are specialists in the matter of the case under examination.
§ 2 Each ex officio Expert, bound by the obligation of the secret of office, prepares independently his own medical-legal opinion on the proposed case.
§ 1 When at least one of the two ex officio expert opinions is affirmative, the case may be examined collegially by the Medical Board.
§ 2 When the ex officio expert opinions are both negative, the Undersecretary notifies the Postulator of the Cause so that he may decide whether to seek the opinion of a third ex officio Expert who is nominated according to the norm of Art. 8 § 1. If this is also negative the case may not proceed ad ulteriora.
§ 1 For every case the Medical Board is composed of 7 Members, which include the President and the ex officio Experts. These Medical Experts, chosen by the Secretary of the Congregation upon the proposal of the Undersecretary, are convoked by the Undersecretary with about one month’s notice for the collegial examination of the proposed case.
§ 2 The Chronology of the Facts (Factispecies Chronologica), the Summary (Summarium), the medical-legal expert opinions of the ex officio Experts and other eventual documentation exhibited by the Postulator are sent to every Expert.
§ 1 The Medical Board is valid if at least six of the seven Experts attend.
§ 2 The Secretary, the Undersecretary and the Promoter of the Faith of the Congregation attend the meeting of the Medical Board without the right to vote.
§ 3 Upon the request of the Postulation, the Undersecretary proposes to the Ordinary Meeting of the Dicastery the eventual participation, at the meeting of the Medical Board, of ex parte Experts who do not attend the voting.
At the beginning of the meeting of the Medical Board, the Experts swear under oath to examine the case according to science and conscience, and to observe the secret of office regarding the progress of the meeting itself and the judgment of each Member and of that collegial judgment formulated at the conclusion of the Medical Board.
The case is examined by the Medical Board in the following order:
(a) the ex officio Experts and then each Medical Expert, who is to have prepared a written opinion, presents his own opinion, concluding with a precise answer regarding the diagnosis, the prognosis, the treatment and the modalities of the healing;
(b) at the end of the presentation of the individual opinions, the discussion begins under the direction of the President of the Medical Board;
(c) following group discussion, each Medical Expert expresses his definitive opinion.
The Report on the case examined and on the conclusions reached, signed by the President and the Secretary of the Medical Board, is notified to the Postulation and joined to the acts of the Cause.
The case may proceed further if the conclusions of the meeting of the Medical Board are affirmative with a qualified majority of at least five out of seven Experts or of four out of six Experts present at the same meeting.
§ 1 If the conclusions of the meeting of the Medical Board are suspended, the Postulation can present the required clarifications.
§ 2 Having heard the opinion of the President of the Medical Board, the Undersecretary of the Congregation submits the request of the Postulation to the Ordinary Meeting of the Congregation that decides if the case must or must not be sent again to the examination of the Medical Board.
§ 3 If the Ordinary Meeting decides to propose again the case to the examination of the Medical Board, the Board will be composed of the same Medical Experts as the preceding one.
§ 1 If the conclusions of the meeting of the Medical Board are negative, the Postulation may present new arguments on the case.
§ 2 Having heard the opinion of two new ex officio Medical Experts, the Undersecretary of the Dicastery submits the request of the Postulation to the Ordinary Meeting of the Congregation that decides whether to convoke another Medical Board.
§ 3 Such an examination is done by another Medical Board, composed of new Medical Experts according to the norm of Article 10 § 1, which is presided over by a Doctor from the Guild of Medical Experts, nominated by the Prefect of the Dicastery.
A case, examined three times by the Medical Board with a suspended or negative conclusion may not be presented again.
The Medical Experts, the Postulators and the Promoters of the Cause are obliged to keep secret everything regarding the presumed miracle under examination, especially if the person healed is a minor.
§ 1 The Congregation establishes a monetary compensation for the President and the Secretary of the Medical Board, for the two ex officio Medical Experts and for the other Medical Experts convoked for the same session.
§ 2 Such compensation is deposited into the bank accounts of the Experts according to administrative norms in force.
According to the norm of Art. 1 § 2 of the Regulamento Generale della Curia Romana, on 24 August 2016 His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, de mandato Summi Pontificis, has approved these Regulations of the Medical Board of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, establishing that they enter into force from the date of the approval itself, with every other preceding norm having been abrogated.
Angelo Card. Amato, S.D.B.
Titular Archbishop of Bevagna