Friday, May 6, 2011 at 5:41 AM
Nothing can compete with last Friday’s royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton for pomp and ceremony signifying nothing. But last Sunday’s beatification service for Pope John Paul II came pretty damn close.
The service was conducted by his successor, Pope Benedict XVI. For the uninformed heathens among you:
The beatification is the first major milestone on the path to possible sainthood, one of the Catholic Church’s highest honors. A second miracle attributed to John Paul’s intercession is needed for him to be canonized.
(Associated Press, May 1, 2011)
I must confess that I never had much regard for anything associated with organized religion. But, given revelations in recent years about the systemic corruption within the Catholic Church (much of it thriving during the papacy of this would-be saint), there’s no gainsaying that this beatification smacks more of a political feint than a religious rite.
In point of fact, just as Queen Elizabeth clearly hopes Friday’s royal wedding will enhance the image of a British Monarchy still reeling from scandals – most notably the sacrificial abuse of Princess Diana, Pope Benedict clearly hopes Sunday’s beatification ceremony will enhance the image of a Catholic Church still reeling from scandals – most notably the serial abuse of little boys. Enough said.
Reports are that 1.5 million people flooded St Peter’s Square and surrounding areas to witness John Paul continue on the “fast track to sainthood”. Pope Benedict put him on this track in the immediate aftermath of his funeral in 2005 – at which millions were chanting “Santo Subito!” (Sainthood now!). For what it’s worth, this honor has been bestowed upon only 78 popes in the history of the Church.
To be fair, though, it’s arguable that if any pope deserves to be called a saint it is John Paul based solely on the pivotal role he played (particularly with his 1979 trip to Poland) in the fall of Soviet-style Communism. I just believe that, far from living eternal life as a saint in heaven, any pope who presided over (and perhaps even covered up) the sexual abuse of little children should be burning in hell.
All the same, it’s an indication of how contrived this service was that the delegation of foreign leaders who decided to grace it with their presence was led by none other than President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
“Santo Subito” indeed.