Instant Canonisation Via Earthquake Death?
I am, as you all know, Italian. I am, like every Italian, fully aware of the danger that earthquakes represent in the life of many Italians, and of the countless tragedies that earthquakes have caused and, no doubt, will continue to cause in my wonderful Country of birth.
Still, I always have a rapid rise in my adrenaline level when I read of Francis instantly canonising someone because he has died in an earthquake; or, as one will naturally assume at that point, because he has died suddenly.
In L’Aquila, the place of a devastating earthquake in 2009, Francis has gone on record with the following words, referred to the families of the victims:
The Pope assured that in Jesus’ heart “are written all the names of your loved ones who have passed from time into eternity.”
Well, obviously, everybody who dies, even Stalin, immediately passes from time to eternity, and I cannot imagine that Jesus actually forgets the names. However, the context of the phrase and the fact of the particular mention of “Jesus’ heart” make abundantly clear that, here, what Francis is talking about is, exactly, salvation. Salvation, that is, *for all the victims of the earthquake*.
It’s difficult not to see a huge sin of presumption here. We never know when our moment comes, and it may come very suddenly. When the moment comes, God’s grace may have allowed us to meet Him in a state of grace, or not. If the latter is the case, it’s hell.
This is a universal rule. It applies to people dying in earthquakes, to people dying in Auschwitz, and to people dying after 34 long years of activity as Atheist Missionary. A tragic and sudden death, or an unjust death, does not merit paradise for anyone. On the contrary, a tragic and sudden death reminds us of how important it is to think of death and its consequences whilst we are alive.
Now, we don’t have the entire conversation, and God knows these soppy “c”atholic publications always look for the soppy headlines and the soppy quotations. It may be that Francis has inserted his words within the traditional Catholic framework of the hope that those who have died in the earthquake may have been in the state of grace when they died. Alas, we are talking of Francis here, not of any even halfway reasonable Pope.
Therefore, I am inclined to believe that the guy really has blurted out a huge sin of presumption here.
Seen his record, I am not surprised, either.