The new pope is helping some previous ones get to be saints.
Showing more of his sprightly personality and his priorities, Pope Francis sped two of his predecessors toward sainthood on Friday: John Paul II, who guided the Roman Catholic Church during the end of the cold war, and John XXIII, who assembled the liberalizing Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.
In approving the sainthood of John XXIII even without a second miracle attributable to the pontiff, Francis took the rare step of bypassing the Vatican bureaucracy.
Ok but so how does all this work? Are there rules, or is it just whatever the pope feels like? And if popes can speed other popes, why mess around, why not just make it that all popes are saints?
And then how does it actually work? Is the current pope magic? Does he make people into actual saints by being magic and saying the right words while being magic? What’s the mechanism here? Is it a placebo or is there an active ingredient? Or to put it another way, if being a saint is a real thing, how can it be up to a pope whether someone is one or not?
You might think the church is fine with magic but actually it isn’t. It frowns on magic. It wants everyone to be very clear that religion is a different thing altogether. Religion is grown up and serious and real, and magic is just childish and spooky, also dangerous.
But then how can popes make people be saints? Especially when there is no second miracle and they have to bypass the Vatican bureaucracy?
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Francis was eager to canonize John XXIII. “Despite the absence of a second miracle it was the pope’s will that the sainthood of the great pope of the Second Vatican Council be recognized,” he said. But he played down the fact that Francis had bypassed a second miracle. “There are lots of theologians who in fact discuss the principle of the fact that it’s necessary to have two distinct miracles.”
Oh, I see. They’re on it. Ok then – I feel much better about it now.