Sunday, July 07, 2013

Not sure how I feel about Pope John Paul II being canonized

First off, don't get me wrong. I don't doubt that JPII is in heaven, but being in heaven is different than being canonized. I think this might be too soon to canonize this previous pope. John Paul died just 8 years ago. If you asked non-Catholics, they mightn't even know the names of his two successors. Pope Francis has now declared that John Paul's canonization can proceed and will probably take place before the end of the year.

My issue is how it will be perceived by many. I don't want the canonization process to become a sort of automatic post-death honor given by the current pope to his predecessor. If people perceive canonization as something easy and quick, it could lose some of its profundity in their minds. It becomes just another honor among many, like being on the cover of Time Magazine or winning a Nobel Prize. To some it may look like something akin to a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Oscars.

Now I know perception is not what matters, but the Catholic Church understands the value of symbols. Canonizing someone does not accelerate their entry into heaven and there is no necessary reason to speed up a particular cause. Ultimately canonization is for the edification and prayer life of Catholics. Therefore, it is important to maintain the gravitas of the whole process and proceed with not only caution, but an air of solemnity and seriousness.

Pope John Paul II was a great man. I encourage people to pray to him. My only concern is that his canonization may be proceeding a little too quickly.

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