After reading John Allen’s third thousand-word Q&A post on the beatification of Pope John Paul II, I can’t decide what I’m more sick of: the “royal wedding” or the beatification of JPII. Neither really has anything to do with my life, since I’m not British or a monarchist, and the way the Catholic church does it, I’m never going to be canonized either.
Not that I want to be. We are all made “saints and citizens of the household of God” (according to Paul) in baptism anyway, but lately canonization to me seems just another exercise in church politics, a stamp of approval for a movement (Opus Dei) or devotion (Divine Mercy). (You don’t see too many social justice types such as Oscar Romero beatified, do you?).
Pope John Paul II was a fine man, heroic even in some ways, as I noted in my May column, but I think we need another 50 years or so before we make him a saint–regardless of how many miracles he pulls off in the meantime. As another writer noted at NCR, doing it now could be interpreted as a way of propping up the papal monarchy, analogous to the royal wedding.
But more importantly, I’m tired of the endless canonizations of priests and nuns, priests and nuns. Can we not find a single example of heroic virtue among the other 99 percent of the baptized? Even the one married couple JPII canonized among the legions of priests and religious became celibate. Can we find a married couple whose holiness included their marital sex life? Or any other “merely baptized” non-vowed layperson who lived a heroic life (other than Dorothy Day, who will simply never make it to the altars because she had an abortion, regardless of her obvious heroic sancitity)?
When we do, please let me know, and I’ll tune in. Harumph.