Sunday, May 01, 2011

Don't Rush to Sanctify Your Old Boss

Pope John Paul II was beatified yesterday by his successor and close ally, Benedict XVI. To do that Benedict had to suspend the normal five-year waiting period to begin the drawn-out beatification process. John Paul died six years ago, so the speed-up was not huge. Still, I think it imprudent.

I am a Presbyterian. The internal politics of the Catholic Church are their business. I think John Paul was a great man and a force for good, especially in the struggle against communism and other kinds of materialism. Nonetheless, I am not really commenting here on the whether John Paul II is worthy of religious veneration, and am not qualified to have an opinion on his qualifications for sainthood.

Rather, I think rushing to judgment for permanent honors is a bad idea for anyone. I think it is always good policy to wait some years for the passions of the moment to cool. I am particularly suspicious when those in power move to permanently honor their patrons and fellow partisans. That smacks of an attempt to sanctify current policies, not just former leaders. I think this is just as bad (and much more common) when practiced for secular political leaders. The Catholic Church's canonization process rarely involves people who were powerful in any ordinary sense. But in the case of John Paul II, it does.

I hope the church waits a long time, with much deliberation, and probably a new pope, before it decides whether to elevate the beatified pope to sainthood.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why do you see the speck in your neighbour's eye...