Making Up The Rules As You Go Along


Pope Francis

Seems being Pope, like having an American Express card, "has it's privileges." Pretty much you can do what you want and 1.2 billion Roman Catholics will say "You go for it, Holy See."

Over centuries, the Catholic church has abided by certain rules for sainthood. To get into that select group, you had to meet stringent qualifications. The church wasn't going to let just anyone in. Pope John XV led the first canonization in 993, making Bishop Ulrich of Augsburg a saint.You all remember Ulrich. He was known for washing the feet of the poor. After that miraculous behavior, the Catholic church decided to formalized its rules for naming saints after the 16th-century Council of Trent.

John Paul II

It wasn't until 1983, when Pope John Paul II, eager to give his church more role models, overhauled the process. Yeah, what that church needed was more saints -- especially with the sex scandals they were experiencing.

The following "steps" are taken down the formal path to sainthood.  So the streamlined process began:

1. Papal designation as a "Servant of God" described as someone at the start of the process.

2. "Venerable" is what a pope proclaims a candidate to be after a local church investigation of his/her "heroic" virtues and orthodoxy of doctrine.

3. "Blessed," a title bestowed upon beatification, requires evidence of one miracle. Said miracle must happen after the candidate has died as a result of a specific plea to the candidate.

4. "Saint," after reports of a second miracle (or a first miracle in the case of a martyr), are verified. Then candidate is "canonized," or made a saint.

Pope John XXIII

Friday, in the case  of the late Pope John XXIII, current Pope Francis, the sitting pontiff, essentially issued a waiver, holding that it didn't matter that a second miracle hadn't been approved.

A waiver? You kidding me? Does that mean he'll have an asterisk next to his name like Roger Maris's 61 homers, or Greg LaMonde/Lance Armstrong's Tour de France victories?

Not being a Roman Catholic, I was always amazed at the disciples dedication to their scriptures. I remember when they couldn't eat meat on Fridays, people with black ash on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday, and true believers recreating the Procession to Calvary walk down the Via Dolorosa, just outside of Jerusalem, on Good Friday.

So how can such devout people not bat an eye when the new Pontiff changes the rules in the middle of the game? It's almost, dare I say it, sacrilegious.

Not only is Pope Francis canonizing in a "pretender" (until his miracle's are proven) in John XXIII but he's waved the five year waiting period on John Paul II. That's like letting someone into the Baseball Hall of Fame before he's eligible. Not a good precedent to set. Look, he's dead.  He's not going anywhere. So he can wait his 5 year waiting period. What's the rush?

Does this have anything to do with the church's continuing sex scandals? Maybe if  the soon to be Saint John Paul II wasn't the guy who knew all about the sex abuse scandals and did nothing to protect the innocent and took no action against the guilty I wouldn't be so concerned.  But this action propagates the notion that the church doesn't care.  And I bet most of the hierarchy there do.

Is the new pope paying back JPII because he's the one who picked and ordained Francis a cardinal? In that case, Dickie Kerr, the guy who discovered and developed Stan Musial should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Boy, this new guy, Pope Francis, is sure in a hurry. And the old, two-for-one deal trick seems pretty sweet right now for two former pontiffs-- one a sinner and the other not qualified as a saint.

Mel Brooks said it was good to be the King. I think it's even better to be Pope. Then you can do anything. So Pope Francis, if you really want to prove your future sainthood, could you please get the Cubs into the World Series and let them win. It's only been 100 years.