Gem of thoughtsApril 27 esteems another milestone in the Roman Catholic Church across the globe for on this day two popes will be elevated to the highest reverence for holiness – the sainthood. Pope John XXIII (born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli of Lombardy, Italy) and Pope John Paul II (Karol Józef Wojtyla of Poland) will be canonized by Pope Francis in a no-flurry but unprecedented rite at the Vatican.
The Catholic faithful the world over will surely take the time to witness the unfolding of this event where two bishops of distinct personalities though having served as pope will be haloed and be titled saints on this day of grace.
A novel twist in this double-canonization, though, is that both Johns will be canonized without having to go through what tradition has dictated in centuries.
According to reports, at the time Pope Francis signed a decree recognizing the miracle needed for Blessed John Paul’s canonization on July 5 last year, the Vatican proclaimed that the pope had agreed with members of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes that the canonization of Blessed John should go forward even without a second miracle attributed to his intercession. (Catholic News Service)
It should be noted that except in the case of martyrdom, Vatican rules require one miracle for a candidate’s beatification and a second for his or her canonization as confirmations that the candidate really is in heaven with God. The Pope nevertheless could set aside this rule. (same)
In the case of Blessed John Paul, the cry for his elevation to sainthood was even at the outset overwhelming that at his funeral people were cheering and chanting “Santo subito!” meaning “sainthood now!” The world over has seen how this second longest-serving pope has dealt with his people across the globe drawing them much closer to God, although keeping the conservative outlook on issues affecting the church and its clergy.
Pope John Paul II appeared to be on a fast-track to sainthood. Normally, two miracles attributed to the deceased need to be verified to be considered. The first was a French nun, said to be cured from Parkinson’s. The second was a Costa Rican woman, cured of a brain aneurism. (abc Chicago)
Amidst this roaring development of double-canonization by a new Pope Francis is a controversy on the need of canonization among popes who are seen as epitome of holiness next to Christ, making them worthy to be saints even without going through the rigorous process and deliberations.
As a footnote, some experts question the whole business of assigning halos to popes. Generally it’s not because they doubt the personal holiness of these men, but because they worry it damages the process. First of all, Catholic theology holds that the Church never “makes” a saint. (bostonglobe)
“If someone is already in Heaven with God, which is what calling them a saint means, they don’t need a piece of paper from Rome certifying their status. Declaring someone a saint is really for everyone else, intended to lift that person up as a role model and a source of inspiration. With popes, such a gesture is arguably superfluous, since their election already made them highly visible figures. (same)
Further, the question with popes is, which ones do you canonize? Either you do it for all of them, which may cheapen the result by making it seem almost part of the standard benefits package, or you pick and choose, which risks making the process seem political. For those reasons, some theologians have quietly suggested a moratorium on declaring popes as saints. Whatever the merits of that case, so far it doesn’t look like Francis is buying it. (same)
This, too, rings aloud the question “How do we know if the person we pray for is already in Heaven?” A lawyer who holds a key rank in the Freemasonry has been posing this questions every time he would hear Catholics praying for the soul of the dead.
One student of Theology imparted his opinion on this. He commented, “We know that a person is in heaven if we know that in his life he lived a morally upright life and that the person died in the state of grace. We still pray for them because though they lived a good life while on earth, we cannot actually say 100 percent that they are in heaven. Perhaps they still need purifications due to sins in the past.”
The intercessory power of the dead, just like the two miracles that led to Pope John Paul II’s speedy beatification and canonization, is believed by Catholics as proof of the soul’s entry in heaven. But while it is so, Catholics likewise uphold the certain truth about communion of saints wherein the living incessantly pray for the souls of the dead until they reach heaven and the souls already in heaven to pray for the dead, according to this acolyte who requested anonymity.
The saints in Heaven, including the new ones Popes John and John Paul, are intercessors of those yet working their way through their sanctification in this journey called life. Although other Christian sects do not believe in saints, the latters’ help nevertheless felt are considered by Catholics of proof that indeed souls reach Heaven now in the company of angels, the Holy Trinity and the Blessed Virgin Mary.