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About “Instant Saints”

Unnecessary and controversial haste: Blessed Pope John Paul II

We all know and hopefully dislike the “instant” that has become so common in our time. Instant coffee, instant soup, instant gratification. After a while, it turns out that the instant coffee isn’t really at par with the non-instant one, the instant soup is even worse, and the instant gratification is not really gratifying and only takes one away from more important gratifications requiring, alas, much more time; guitar instead of video games, say, or learning Italian to read your Dante properly, or just something simple like a slowly and lovingly cooked meal rather than pre-processed garbage.

Andrea Tornielli at “Vatican Insider” has now a rather worrying story about a new manifestation of this instant gratification mentality, “instant canonisation”.

The re-inventor (in modern times) of this new fashion is – and how could it have been otherwise – the late Pope, Blessed John Paul II. Pope John Paul II was not one for waiting, particularly if easily gained instant popularity for the Church was part of the equation. Therefore, he sounded around whether in the case of Mother Theresa those oppressive red tape procedures – already largely massacred from … himself – could not have been skipped altogether, elegantly jumping the boring formality of beatification and immediately starting to work on the next Great Media Show And Popularity Festival, Mother Teresa’s canonisation.

Those asked must have politely defined the initiative, in “Yes, Prime Minister” parlance, “courageous”, because even if John Paul II skipped, with the usual athleticism, the minimum waiting time, the beatification itself was not skipped.

We are now informed that after the death of the late Pope, the same ideas were circulated; this time, concerning Pope John Paul himself, and promoted by none other than his secretary, Stanislaw Dziwisz. Here the Polish athleticism reached Usain Bolt proportions, the idea that a Pope should make a historical exception in the matter of the canonisation of his own predecessor being very similar to Merriam-Webster’s definition of “questionable”.

Happily, Pope Benedict had the sense of braking the impetus of the former secretary, though he didn’t see it fit to stick to the rules, either. Therefore, we got another “exception”, the second in just a few years. Predictably, this second exception didn’t fail to damage the institution of Beatification, – which is, as you will remember, not a matter of infallibility like the canonisation – attract vocal criticism and, in general, succeed in making of a rather uncontroversial institution the object of loud disputes.

This, the late Pope had not deserved, as his undoubtedly saintly character and exemplary life (as a religious, I mean) would have certainly allowed for a slowly cooked, but far more savoury and enjoyable beatification at a later point in time. It surprises one that the Church, accustomed and expected to think in very long terms, should completely forget her own wise habits regarding an institution so directly linked with her prestige and reputation.

Like instant coffee and instant soup, instant beatification proved a rather tasteless, inferior product.

Mundabor

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