Pope John Paul II: Next Stop ... Sainthood?

Julie Marsh

pope john paul II beatifyPope Benedict XVI has determined that Pope John Paul II will be beatified on May 1, 2011. Since the former pontiff's death, Catholics have called repeatedly for his canonization, and beatification is only one step down from sainthood.

The reason cited for the move to beatify Pope John Paul II is that his intercession cured a woman of Parkinson's disease, a recovery deemed scientifically inexplicable and therefore miraculous.

Pope John Paul II served for 26 years. Under his leadership, the Catholic Church made a great deal of progress. (Remember, progress is a relative term where it comes to religious institutions.) While I may strongly disagree with the church's stance on multiple issues, I acknowledge that Pope John Paul II himself accomplished much good.

However, I still don't believe that supernatural forces can elicit miracles, nor do I think beatification is any big deal. Pope Benedict XVI has already beatified 563 blesseds and canonized 14 saints (and that count is almost two years old). Pope John Paul II would have plenty of company.

Hey, if it makes Catholics happy to have another saint to pray to for intercession that doesn't really happen anyway, that's fine by me. Saint John Paul it is!

But then I'd like to see some of the real miracle workers out there -- doctors, therapists, social workers, researchers, inventors -- get similar recognition for everything that they do to save people's lives. I'll grant that the mind-body connection exists; our state of mind absolutely does have an effect, positive or negative, on the state of our body. But praying over a child who needs a blood transfusion to survive or a woman who needs chemotherapy to have a fighting chance is almost certainly doomed to failure if it's the sole course of action.

If intercession was valid, whether it could be scientifically proven or not, it would occur far more frequently. Why wouldn't the saints intercede on behalf of Christina Green or other innocent children who have died, either from disease, accidents, or at the hands of others? Pope John Paul II cured a woman of her Parkinson's disease, but he couldn't cure himself. If intercession is real, how can that be?

Therein lies what Catholics have that I don't: faith. Not just faith in supernatural forces and miracles, but faith in what their leaders say and conviction that those statements ultimately originate with God. The petty details that I question incessantly don't matter to them. What they say God says goes, no questions asked.


Image via parafia-gron/Flickr

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