In addition to these three ways, Francis has now added a fourth called “offering of life.” National Catholic Reporter (NCR) describes the new criteria as follows:
Though the Church does not discount the theoretical that non-Catholics in invincible ignorance might be saved, She hardly holds “good hope” for this, as the only sure and certain means She allows for salvation were given to Her by Jesus Christ. Thus, for a Catholic, the idea of a Pope canonizing a non-Catholic would be utterly impossible. By doing so, the Pope would go beyond saying that there is a possibility of the salvation of non-Catholics to saying that the salvation of some non-Catholics is infallibly certain.
Further, the entire premise of canonized Sainthood itself has always been based on the concept of martyrdom for the one true Catholic Faith and heroic virtue and sanctity within the one true Catholic Faith. John Paul II spoke of the “ecumenism of the martyrs” and Francis speaks of the “ecumenism of blood,” as if the Church teaches that non-Catholics who are killed for virtuous reasons are certainly and immediately saved. This is not the case. As the Council of Florence teaches:
No one, no matter how much he has given in alms and even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has persevered in the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church (Pope Eugene IV, , Cantate Domino, Session 11, Feb. 4, 1442).
Similarly, many great Saints have spoken out against the idea of ecumenical Christian martyrs:
True martyrs are found only in the Catholic Church; for, since there is but one true faith, there is but one true martyrdom. -
Heretics or schismatics, being placed outside the Church and cut off from unity and charity, even though one should be slain for the name of Christ, he could not be crowned in death. -
Thus, at the very least, Pope Francis cannot assume that a non-Catholic who is killed in the name of Christ is automatically saved, much less non-Catholics who are killed for living virtuous lives.
Therefore, it is certain that no truly Catholic concept of canonized Sainthood can include non-Catholics. Catholic Saints are supposed to be heroic examples of what we the faithful should strive to be in order to save our souls. The Saints were not only Catholic to the core, but built on this solid foundation to achieve spiritual heights. The idea of holding up a non-Catholic as an example to save one’s soul would not only have been considered unthinkable but blasphemous at any point in Church history before our own.
Luckily for us, at least according to Bishop Fellay, not even Francis believes his canonizations are infallible. (See below audio at 11 minutes 24 seconds)