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Vatican issues new rules for relics in saint-making process

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican's saint-making office has updated its procedures for authenticating and conserving relics for would-be saints, issuing new rules that govern how body parts and cremated remains are to be obtained and venerated.

The instruction issued yesterday explicitly rules out selling hands, heads, teeth and other body parts of saints that often fetch high prices in online auctions. It also explicitly prohibits their use in satanic rituals.

Officials said the instruction was necessary to update the church's 2007 rules given some obstacles that had emerged when families and the church didn't agree on what to do with the remains of a saintly candidate. One current case is before a US appeals court in the battle over the remains of Fulton Sheen, a prominent 20th-century American bishop.

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