Is this canonisation business scandalous?

Catholic faithfuls in El Salvador participate in a ceremony in San Salvador on April 26, 2014, on the eve of the canonisation of the late Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII. AFP PHOTO | JOSE CABEZAS

What you need to know:

  • John Paul II’s changing of the rules should tell you of the decision by the successors of St Peter to crowd heaven with saints in their mould.

Pope Benedict XIV was never made a saint due to his far-sightedness and the laws he changed. But his laws were changed. They have been speeded up by his successors to the throne of St Peter and this has enabled popes who are in recent memory to be fast-tracked into glory.

Eight years after his death, John Paul II is being considered a saint. John Paul, it should be remembered, was a political saint who helped contribute to the death of the Soviet Empire.

Socially, he was terrible. He was in charge, along with his successor, Ratzinger, of the worst cover-up of systemic paedophilia in the world. He failed to adequately face up to the problem and could not be brought to justice because he is, after all, the head of a country.

If any other organisation were caught suppressing information on child abuse like the Catholic Church was doing, you can be sure that it would be cleaved in two and its leaders sent to jail.  

It should also be remembered that John Paul was not pro-condoms in Africa, was not particularly enamoured by the prospect of female priests, was not a friend of gays or abortionists, and would not even accept divorce.  


It is important to scrutinise his canonisation because I think it is an attempt to whitewash the bad episodes of his papacy. Canonisation is the highest post-mortem honour and in sainthood, one’s actions in life, if you are fortunate enough to have been a pope, become infallible.

This will not stop the exodus from the church or the fact that many Catholics in numerous jurisdictions do not look up to the Vatican for moral law, particularly when it comes to contraception and divorce.

In the past 300 years, only one other pope has been canonised before this twosome. John Paul II, meanwhile, beatified about 1,500 saints — more than all the other popes combined.

He also drastically simplified the complicated process it took for someone to become a saint (you could say that he is a beneficiary of his changing of the rules).

For example, he removed the position of devil’s advocate where someone would be called up to publicly testify as to why someone should not be a saint.


This was removed because a situation where people talked about you as you really were could be used to “slander” the dead. So no one could, for example, stand up and say — when he was gone — that John Paul should not actually be a saint.

John Paul, we are told, healed a woman of an aneurysm and another of Parkinson’s disease. The church has not released details about the miracles, so we are unable to say whether or not they are frauds. Humans, whether dead or alive, are generally incapable of miracles.

Also, and more incredulously, John Paul II reduced the number of “miracles” one had to perform in order to become a saint.

I suspect that is because saints nowadays are lazy, unlike those in the past who could go around granting miracles left, right, and centre.

I blame Facebook. Ever since heaven put up WiFi, presumptive saints have spent their time updating their statuses and not healing people.

John Paul II’s changing of the rules should tell you of the decision by the successors of St Peter to crowd heaven with saints in their mould. No doubt Francis, the ever-so-humble pope, will also get a nod when he vacates the seat.  


Why would Catholics put up with all this obvious made-up and ridiculous practice? With popes making popes saints, we have a self-selecting echo chamber of those who would occupy the position.

There are problems with sanctifying a pope. For starters, it means that every position he took can never be found to be in error. It is worse than when Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize.

 We have a very visible sign of religions mutating before our eyes to suit the times. The church’s 1.2 billion adherents should ask why all of a sudden it is easier to become a saint than ever before. Are we so needy in the intercessory department that the laws should be relaxed so that the numbers should be suddenly inflated?

I think I will leave now and look for a confessional booth.

Is he right? Does the Catholic Church err whenever it announces one a saint? Send your comments to [email protected]. Email the writer at [email protected]