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Adele Elliott: Saint who?

 

Adele Elliott

 

I love the saints (not the football team). My Catholic childhood was fraught with fantastic stories of their bravery when faced with torture and execution. Their faith was so steadfast that it endured horrendous odds. 

 

I doubted my own devotion, knowing I would have caved under those circumstances. I was sure that my response to even the threat of pain would have simply been to give my persecutors anything they wanted. Convert to Islam? Sure, if it means keeping my head. Renounce my religion? Why not, if I can avoid being burned at the stake? 

 

The saints did all the work. All I had to do was to be a good girl and be sufficiently inspired by their agonies. That was fairly easy, since my missal was filled with holy cards. Images of golden halos, the Stigmata and the Sacred Heart still move me today. 

 

There is a saint for any problem or interest that you might have. Every disease, every city, every profession has a patron. These holy people relinquished their lives for profound beliefs and earned the badge because of extreme suffering. They were granted sainthood because of extraordinary sacrifice. Yes, they deserve the designation of "saint." 

 

Now we learn that Pope Francis will canonize late popes John Paul II and John XXIII in an unprecedented joint ceremony on April 27, 2014 (Huffington Post; September 30, 2013). Their approval for sainthood was decided upon by Francis' predecessor, Benedict XVI, in a decree read at the ceremony in February where the former pontiff announced his retirement. 

 

What?! That sounds like someone who makes a shocking statement just before leaving the room. OK, bye. You deal with it. 

 

It used to be that sainthood required two "confirmed" miracles, not to mention great agony. 

 

John XXIII was credited with healing an Italian nun who had severe internal hemorrhages. Francis has waived the need for a second miracle (Fox News, September 29, 2013). 

 

John Paul II's first miracle was recognized just six months after his death. A French nun claimed that she had been cured of Parkinson's, a disease he had also suffered from. His second miracle was reportedly carried out on a woman in Costa Rica, who said she was healed from a serious brain condition by praying for John Paul's intercession. 

 

Even with these miraculous healings, sainthood for the late Karol Jozef Wojtyla (John Paul II) is still a bit problematic. There is that pesky little membership in the Hitler Youth, not to mention the pedophilia scandal. 

 

Next week, Pope Francis will begin three days of talks with an advisory board of eight cardinals that he has appointed. That group gets the last word about many issues. 

 

The whole thing sounds like business as usual in our little part of the world. We should probably be proud by association. Around here, boards are formed by people hand-picked to agree with whoever is in power. Rules are changed to suit current politics. Credentials, experience and education -- all become meaningless when nepotism and cronyism rule. 

 

I suppose we are delighted to be so much like the Pope, the "Apostolic See." The first Pope, St. Peter, received keys to the kingdom of heaven directly from Jesus Christ, and the rest is history. His little empire, Vatican City, is much like some of our institutions, sovereign and untouchable. "Autonomous" is the word used to describe one local bureau. 

 

When the corrupt and powerful are in control, it is little different whether they wear a mitre and cherry-red Prada slippers, or a boring business suit. We can only hope that Mississippi does not resort to martyrdom. Saints deliver us!

 

Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.

 

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