Friday, 9 May 2014

The  sainthood  of  two  popes                          

On the 27th of April 2014, Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII were canonized into sainthood. Never before in history have two Roman Catholic popes been awarded sainthood at the same time and further, never were popes canonized in such a short period of time after their deaths. First, I will give you some information about what leads up to the canonization of those worthy of sainthood.


Steps to canonization


In the very early years of the Church, sainthood was only awarded to those who were martyrs but centuries later, it could be awarded to others who were not martyrs.                     


The procedures were as follows:

  1. A local bishop investigates the candidate's life and writings for evidence of heroic virtue. The information uncovered by the bishop is sent to the Vatican.                                                                                                                    
  2. A panel of theologians and the cardinals of the Congregation for Cause of Saints evaluate the candidate's life.                                                               
  3. If the panel approves, the pope proclaims that the candidate is venerable, which means that the person is a role model of Catholic virtues. He would then be referred to as the Venerable Father John or whatever his name is.                                                                                                                          
  4. The next step toward sainthood is beatification, which allows a person to be honored by a particular group or region. In order to beatify a candidate, it must be shown that the person is responsible for a posthumous miracle. Martyrs—those who died for their religious cause can be beatified without evidence of a miracle. On October 20, 2003, Mother Teresa was beatified. She is now known as Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata.
  5.  In order for the candidate to be considered a saint, there must be proof of a second posthumous miracle. If there is, the person is canonized.        
    These alleged miracles must be submitted to the Vatican for verification. Sister Teresia Benedicta of the Cross was canonized in 1997 after the Vatican verified that a young girl who ate seven times the lethal dose of Tylenol was suddenly cured. The girl's family was said to have prayed to the spirit of Sister Teresia for help.

In Mother Teresa's case, her supporters are arguing that she has performed at least two posthumous miracles. In one case, a French woman in the United States broke several ribs in a car accident. Reportedly, her wounds were healed because she was wearing a Mother Teresa medallion. Another possible miracle occurred when Mother Teresa appeared in the dreams of a Palestinian girl, telling the girl that her cancer was cured and she was cured.

This raises an interesting question. Why do some people who are ill pray to a deceased priest or nun for a cure when they can pray directly to God? Catholics are taught to pray to someone who can intercede on their behalf such as praying to Mary, the mother of Jesus rather than praying directly to Jesus or God for a cure.

Once a person is a saint, he or she is recommended to the entire Catholic Church for veneration. Some saints are selected as patron saints, special protectors or guardians over particular occupations, illnesses, churches, countries or causes. For example, a recent Pope planned on naming a patron saint of Internet users and computer programmers. Several saints are being considered, but the lead candidate is St. Isidore of Seville, who is credited with writing the world's first encyclopedia. But was anyone cured of his or her illness by praying to the spirit of this man? What follows is a partial list of patron saints.
Patron Saints of Cities                          
Patron Saints of Dentistry     

Patron Saint of travellers  and many more.
At last count, there are 10,360 saints in which many were abbesses, abbots, bishops, canons, cardinals, deacons, missionaries,  monks, nuns, popes, and priests.  Also converts, fathers, lay brothers, life-long lay people, married people, mothers, slaves, widowers], and widows were considered as saints.

Also classed as saints were; chemists, artists, farmers, lawyers, (is that really possible?) newspaper workers, nurses,  pharmacists, physicians,  poets, secretaries, servants,  shepherds, soldiers,  teachers, and writers.

Other saints previously had cancer, could levitate, were handicapped,  were deaf, were blind, were visionaries, were stigmatists, were incorruptible and or died as children. Years ago, a young girl was brutally raped and murdered by a man. Before she died, she told her attacker that she forgave him. She was later elected as a saint.

And now, I will give you background information on our two recent saints. 

Pope Saint John XXIII 

This pope was born in Italy on the 25th of November in 1881. He was the fourth of fourteen children born to a family of sharecroppers that lived in a village in Lombardy.  He was ordained a priest on the 10th of August 1904 and served in a number of posts, including papal nuncio in France and a delegate to Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. On the 12th of January 1953, Pope Pius XII made him a cardinal as the Cardinal-Priest of Santa Prisca in addition to naming him the Patriarch of Venice. This incredible man was elected pope on the 28th of October, 1958 at age 76 after 11 ballots. His selection was unexpected, so he went to Rome with a return train ticket to Venice. He was the first pope to take the pontifical name of “John” upon election in more than 500 years, and his choice settled the complicated question of official numbering attached to this papal name due to the former antipope of this name.                     


His passionate views on equality were summed up in his famous statement: “We were all made in God's image, and thus, we are all Godly alike. John XXIII made many passionate speeches during his pontificate, one of which was on the day that he announced the Second Vatican Council in the middle of the night to the crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square: “Dear children, returning home, you will find [your] children: give your children a caress and say: “This is the caress of the Pope!”

I read a book about this great man and I was so impressed, I used some of the antidotes from that book in my first novel, The Second Appearance. For example, he was overweight and for this reason, he decided not to be carried in the sedia gestatoria when being brought into the Basilica of St. Peters as the burden would be too great for those having to carry him. He decided that he would always walk into the basilica. When he was elected as the pope in 1958, his personal belongings and furniture were moved into the papal palace. One of the workers was bent over by the weight of one of the pieces of furniture so the pope assisted him. Later, he invited the workers to have lunch with him. One day he was working in his study when he overheard one of the plumbers on the room next to swearing and using God’s name in vain. He went to them and said, “Do you really have to say that? Can’t you simply use words like shit or damn like the rest of us do?”  On another occasion, a tourist found himself in a room where the walls and the door were mirrored. He forgot where the door was and suddenly the pope entered the room. The man apologized and said that he couldn’t find his way out of the room. The pope smiled and said, “I am lost also, Let’s leave the way I came in before we are hopelessly lost.”

He visited a reformatory school for juvenile delinquents in Rome telling them "I have wanted to come here for some time.” The media noticed this and reported that “He talked to the youths in their own language.” His frequent habit of sneaking out of the Vatican late at night to walk the streets of the city of Rome earned him the nickname of “Johnny Walker”, a pun on the whisky brand name.

In 1960, he removed the word “faithless” from the prayer for the conversion of the Jews. It was later revised to read something else. While Vatican II was being held, John XXIII tasked Cardinal Augustin Bea with the creation of several important documents that pertained to reconciliation with Jewish people.


I really believe that the current pope, Francis is much like that of the late Pope John XXIII was. Both can be referred to as the people’s popes.     

Of Course, Pope John XXIII was renowned for convening the Vatican II conferences. From the Second Vatican Council came changes that reshaped the face of Catholicism: a comprehensively revised liturgy, a stronger emphasis on ecumenism, and a new approach to the world.

There was one miracle attributed to this pope. in 1966, Sister Caterena Capitani was suffering from a gastric hemorrhage and was dying. A spiritual assistant visited her and placed a relic of Pope John XXIII on her chest. Later she said that she had a dream in which the pope said to her, “Everything is over now. You are well.”  She died in 2010, more than 43 years after she was healed. He died on June 3rd, 1963 of stomach cancer. I am extremely pleased that this pope was chosen to be a saint.

Pope John Paul II

This pope was born in Poland in the 18th of May, 1920. He was the first pope not born in Italy since Pope Adrian VI, who died in 1523.


He is recognized as helping to end Communist rule in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe. John Paul II significantly improved the Catholic Church's relations with Judaism, Islam, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion. However, he upheld the Church's teachings against artificial contraception and the ordination of women, which is highly controversial. He supported the Church's Second Vatican Council and its reform, and in general held firm, orthodox, Catholic stances.

He was one of the most travelled world leaders in history, visiting 129 countries during his pontificate. I remember when he visited Toronto, Canada. I was one of the spectators on the street when he passed by us.

As part of his special emphasis on the universal call to holiness, he beatified 1,340 people and canonized 483 saints, more than the combined tally of his predecessors during the preceding five centuries. By the time of his death, he had named most of the College of Cardinals, consecrated or co-consecrated a large number of the world's bishops, and ordained many priests.

A key goal of his papacy was to transform and reposition the Catholic Church. His wish was “to place his Church at the heart of a new religious alliance that would bring together Jews, Muslims and Christians in a great religious armada [of faith].”

Pope John Paul II asserted that people with homosexual inclinations possess the same inherent dignity and rights as everybody else.  However with respect to homosexual marriages, he wrote; “"It is legitimate and necessary to ask oneself if this is not perhaps part of a new ideology of evil, more subtle and hidden, perhaps, intent upon exploiting human rights themselves against man and against the family.” A 1997 study determined that 3% of the pope's statements were about the issue of sexual morality.

John Paul II’s cause for canonization commenced in 2005 shortly after his death with the traditional five-year waiting period waived. On 19 December 2009, John Paul II was proclaimed Venerable by his successor Pope Benedict XVI and was beatified on 1 May 2011 after the Congregation for the Causes of Saints attributed one miracle to him, the healing of a French nun from Parkinson's disease. A second miracle, attributed to the late pope, was approved on 2 July 2013 and confirmed by Pope Francis two days later. John Paul II was canonized on the 27th of April 2014, alongside Pope John XXIII.  Like John XXIII, his feast day is not celebrated on the date of his death as is usual, but on the anniversary of his papal inauguration, 22nd of October 1978

Since 2001, Sister Maria Simon-Pierre suffered from Parkinson’s Disease, an affliction that also affected Pope John Paul II. After invoking the intercession of the pope, she was miraculously healed in 2005.  There was a second miracle as the church in the past dictated but Pope Francis decided that the ceremony could go ahead anyway.

Pope John Paul II died on April 2nd, 2005 and he also died of stomach cancer. His last words were “Let me go to my Father’s house.”

There are some people who feel that this pope should not have been elevated to that of a saint. That is because not everyone within the Catholic Church is so supportive of the pope's actions. Pope John Paul showed more concern with the effect the scandal of priests molesting children had on the church than the effect on the children. He was “afflicted” by the sins of his priests and merely “concerned” for their victims.

One of the problems that had developed out of the crisis had been the situation of gay priests. Pope John Paul II had censored any discussion of what role priestly celibacy may have played in the actions of the accused priests, but not so with homosexuality.

Worse yet, he placed some of the blame on the children who were sexually abused by the priests. Pope John Paul II issued a papal decree absolving priest-molested children of all sin. He said, Despite the terrible wrongs they have committed, the church must move on and forgive these children for their misdeeds.”  He was implying that these molested children seduced their priests. It was saying in effect those molested boys had done much to undermine and subvert the priestly vows of celibacy but despite that, they were still deserving of God's love.

The papal announcement arrived in response to public outcry over the sex scandal sweeping the Catholic Church in the United States.

What follows is hypocrisy. “By forgiving these children, primarily churchgoing boys between the ages of 5 and 15, the pope has shown true Christian kindness," said Father Thomas O'Malley, a member of the New York archdiocese and one of the many priests implicated in charges of sexual activity with minors.”

Catholics look to the church's authority for justice and righteousness, not politically convenient solutions that maintain the status quo. I believe that many Catholics and others don’t believe that justice for the molested children was on Pope John Paul II’s mind. Now that he is beatified, will John Paul II become known as the Patron Saint of Pedophiles?

Almost every day across the world during his papacy there was a new accusation of child sex abuse or yet another court case filed against a paedophile Catholic priest. These horrors of violence continued to haunt the Vatican with every sign of increasing, and many of the allegations occurred during Pope John Paul II's 27-year reign.

During this time, thousands parents were faced with a callous and even malicious Vatican system while John Paul II caressed, protected and promoted one of Catholicism's worst child abusers—Father Marciel Maciel Degollado. This truly sinful priest was moved from parish to parish when his molestation of children was discovered.  He even fathered some of his own children after sexually molesting women.

If Pope John Paul II was really concerned about this scourge that was being inflicted within his Church, he could have put a stop to it by coming down hard on the molesting priests and their superiors who appeared to have turned a blind eye on the plight of the young victims. But alas, the pope mumbled his blessings on the victims and more or less ignored the molesting priests.

I am mindful of the fact however that St. Paul persecuted Christians before he became a follower of Jesus’ teachings. Since he was elevated to that of a saint, I guess the late John Paul II could be. However, I really believe that his elevation shouldn’t have taken place at a time when the victims of priest’s molestations are still alive. Perhaps in the next century, his elevation to sainthood would have been more appropriate.

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