Friday, January 14, 2011

Santo Subito!

What a joy it must have been for Pope Benedict to announce the upcoming beatification of his friend and predecessor, Pope John Paul II, on the "liturgical anniversary" of his death, Divine Mercy Sunday! (Here is the decree from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.)
With the recognition of the miraculous healing from Parkinsons of Sister Simon-Peter (what a name!), those cries of "Santo Subito!" ("Canonize him quickly!") that we first heard at the Pope's funeral are beginning to be answered. There's also, at least to me, a sort of deliciousness to the fact that the recipient of the miracle is French, as if to stir in the "eldest daughter of the Church" an awakened Catholic consciousness. (Truth to tell, there are wonderful things happening in France already, but not fast enough to overcome the turgid tides of secularism.)
Oddly, at least to my mind, are the voices in protest of the beatification. Some of these (many, it seems) are the sounds of the perpetually dissatisfied: nothing that comes from the Vatican can meet their approval. Others wonder how a person who so spectacularly failed to recognize the duplicity of the now-infamous Father Maciel could be a saint. And some blame Pope John Paul for the pedophile crisis, holding him personally responsible for covering up the actions of priest-abusers. The decree of his beatification doesn't cover things like that, although I am sure that the "devil's advocate" played them well. (I read somewhere that during the Communist era it was so common to have priests "set up" for accusation that it would have been very hard for JP2 to wrap his mind around priests actually doing any of the things they were being accused of; Ratzinger, on the other hand, was becoming more and more convinced that the filth was real--and he acted on that conviction as soon as he was in a position to do so.)
Still, a decree of beatification is not a statement that a person got it all right, even if he was a Pope. It is saying that the person was faithful, that their life was marked by that fidelity, and that God has manifested it through an inexplicable and public act so that we can learn to be faithful, too. 

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