The Los Angeles Times today carries a column I wrote about the new pope, the old pope and my favorite saint. Thanks to my good friend Frank Wilkinson, executive editor of The Week in New York, for motivation and editing assistance. The piece is here.
It starts like this: “Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent,” George Orwell said. The Vatican lately seems to share Orwell’s skepticism.
Pope Benedict XVI has made no secret of his disdain for the high volume of saints named by his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005. John Paul II conducted 482 canonizations, naming more saints in 26 years than his predecessors had canonized in the previous four centuries.
Since becoming pope, Benedict has stopped attending the elaborate beatification ceremonies in St. Peter’s Square, the last step before canonization, and has issued a call for “greater sobriety and rigor” in the process. Last week, he replaced the leader of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, an office that fully supported John Paul’s active saint-making philosophy. Vatican-watchers expect the new leader, Archbishop Angelo Amato, to throw more wrenches in the saint-making machinery.
So who need saints, anyway? That’s a question I take personally. Read the whole thing.