First of all let me get one thing straight: I have loved John Paul 2 especially as the symbol of good against communism. Similarly I love the present Pope Francis who seems to be bringing a similar vision and hope to our time. JP2 has filled my youth with a positive hope and F1 is just starting to do the same for my later years. It is an undeniable fact that JP2 was a man of exceptional moral and spiritual qualities and that he will probably qualify easily for sainhood..
However the current news
that pope F1 has given a go ahead to the process of canonization of JP2 (declaring him a saint) leaves me less than happy. In fact I am convinced that no Pope should ever be canonized for these reasons:
- The role of the Pope is connected with external power. The teaching of Jesus was connected with powerlessness and non-cooperation with worldly power. The pope's role of power is certainly useful but it creates a contradiction against the example of Jesus. Emphasizing this contradiction increases the confusion that (since 313) encompasses the relationship between Christianity and worldly power. This reason alone would be enough to rule out all the popes from canonization.
- There is a selective effect at work: The pope is highly visible and attracts attention much more easily than most "ordinary" holy people. This circumstance alone I would compensate by disallowing the canonization of any pope.
- Every pope due to his great influence makes (apart from his good deeds) many visible mistakes - real ones and subjectively perceived ones. All will remain as stains on his character and on the concept of "sainthood" in general.
- The canonisation is decided by one of the following popes. By creating and supporting the tradition of making saints out of popes the current pope may be playing with the temptation of preparing his own canonization.
- Declaring the past pontiff seems like an act of self-praise by the church - "We've done a good job of selecting and supporting a holy pope."
- Canonization is intended to set an example of life worth following. It does not seem like a good idea to advertise a life path of ascending to high positions in the church. Careerism is a big problem in the church anyway.
Any canonization is basically a communication toward the public - not toward God. (Luckily enough we have no say in how God relates to the deceased person.) Therefore an intention to canonize should be judged primarily by its impact on the public - and that impact in this case seems dubious at least.
I am sure there are many other ways of looking at the situation. This is just one of them.
(Czech version >>