They Don’t Make Saints Like They Used To

dante Where are the visions? The ecstasies? Nobody wants to live on top of a pillar anymore. Where is the theater? Where is the common decency?

Today, sainthood was conferred on two recent retirees much like a gold watch, although with two living popes canonizing two recently dead popes it feels a bit like one of those bloated executive compensation packages — a golden paraclete, so to speak. (The sainting of JPII is of course a basic recruitment maneuver, useful in promoting the product in Poland.)

One would like to think that even if we no longer require candidates to face off with lions in the arena, that their résumés would include being a halfway decent person, but apparently not.

Pope John Paul II (as of today St. John Paul) is proof of that. Maureen Dowd reminds in “A Saint, He Ain’t,”

John Paul was a charmer, and a great man in many ways. But given that he presided over the Catholic Church during nearly three decades of a gruesome pedophilia scandal and grotesque cover-up, he ain’t no saint.

Further, he continued to embrace the loathsome Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ, pedophile, drug addict, and embezzler. This despite being informed of the man’s many crimes and transgressions (NYT 3.27.10), because he was bringing in so much money. And locally: the thinking, feeling people of southern New England are still appalled at the pass given to the odious Cardinal Bernard Law.

One of John Paul’s great shames was giving Vatican sanctuary to Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, a horrendous enabler of child abuse who resigned in disgrace in 2002 as archbishop of Boston.

In a particularly grisly touch, the Vatican has declared John Paul’s blood-encrusted shirt a relic for people to worship and kiss or whatever. Positively medieval.

[Additional details from the BBC about the ceremony: “Relics of each man – a container of blood from John Paul and a piece of skin from John – were placed near the altar.”] Okay, now I’m gonna hurl.

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