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May 13, 2005

Our Gotta Have it Now Society

I'm a sometimes offender in the "must have what I want now" category, so I don't want to come off too self-righteous here. Generally, I think it's a disturbing facet of our post-modern culture and leads to a lot of bad behavior. So, I think it's just a bit disturbing that the Catholic Church seems to be giving in to the same impulse. Pope Benedict XVI has apparently announced that he will seek "fast track" sainthood for Pope John Paul II. This follows John Paul II's similar decision with respect to Mother Theresa. For an institution that relies, to some degree, on history and tradition as support for some of its beliefs, I'm not sure that this is an entirely wise move. Why not wait the five years and keep the traditions intact? Asked another way, if the five-year waiting period is just another historical relic that can be overlooked for convenience, what else can be overlooked for convenience?

Posted by Mark at May 13, 2005 08:06 AM

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Tracked on May 13, 2005 01:42 PM


Like you, I'm a great respecter of tradition, but I don't see much cause for alarm here. Five-year waiting periods are customary rather than doctrinal; major Catholic teaching is not now or ever going to change for the sake of convenience.

This might be a way to keep some attention on JPII's legacy, and because the man did so much to preach the hope that is Christ, remembering him can't hurt-- it redounds to the glory of the God whom he served to the best of his considerable ability.

I also take consolation from what is "inside baseball" for Catholics, namely, that official recognition of sainthood by the universal church is a formal process preceded first by what's called "beatification." The interval between beatification and official recognition of sainthood can be many years. Mother Teresa, for example, is not yet officially recognized as a saint, although no one doubts that she'll eventually be so recognized. This is because beatification opens the door to intense scrutiny of a person's life and work. Given that JPII wrote so many documents, scrutinizing his work will take years.

Posted by: Patrick O'Hannigan at May 13, 2005 06:42 PM

Patrick, Your explanations are helpful and I thank you. I don't think I'm quite convinced, for my own part, though, that the five-year waiting period should be overlooked here. I still maintain that overlooking it is driven more by cultural short attention span than the actual merits of accelerating the process. I am not Catholic, of course, but I have always looked to the Catholic Church as one of the allies in the efforts to tone down some of post-modern culture's more destructive impulses. This action leaves me feeling a bit let down.

Posted by: Mark Sides at May 13, 2005 07:53 PM