Each of these saints is a political statement underlining the fact that there are certain elements within the Church which certainly see themselves and their understanding of humanity as more divinely inspired than other groups of humanity.
I think more attention needs to be given to JPII’s saint factory before we add JPII to the ranks of saints. One of the changes he made in order to get the factory to full production was to remove the office of Devil’s Advocate. This one move pretty much took away any meaningful neutral examination of the life of a given person.
The other thing he did with some frequency was to actively interfere in the process. The most glaring examples were to fast track Mother Teresa and then demand that the cause for Bishop Oscar Romero not be opened until fifty years had passed. That was later rescinded to twenty five years, but it doesn’t take a genius to see that Bishop Romero and Mother Teresa were on the opposite sides of the political spectrum.
Personally, I think moving forward on both JPII and Mother Teresa should be approached with caution. There are skeletons in both their closets which need examining and both of them are products of a purposeful myth making which overlooks some of their less saintly attributes.
For instance, in Mother Teresa’s case, according to Christopher Hitchen’s book “The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa In Theory and Practice”, her order had 50 million dollars in one New York City account at the same time her religious and lay apostolate working in the field was reusing needles because they had no money. Stories about the true state of affairs in her orphanages are reminiscent of Romania, and she personally was not big on the concept of alleviating pain in terminal patients with palliatives. She believed our lot in life was to suffer and share in Jesus’s suffering. I guess that’s all right if that’s what you believe, but to have it forced on you is an entirely different matter. This reluctance to administer pain medication and buy needles was a real issue for medical volunteers working in her facilities.
At the same time that Bishop Romero was being gunned down in El Salvador, Mother Teresa was gushing over the likes of Papa Doc Duvalier and castigating liberation theology, while not looking too closely at where her large donations were coming from or how much of this money was being diverted to the Vatican. She even went so far as to write to the California Superior Court during the criminal trial of Charles Keating. Keating was the biggest fish caught in the Savings and Loan debacle during the Reagan presidency and was one of Mother Teresa’s largest donors. The DA in the case wrote her back and explained the money she received was stolen property and that she should return as much as she could. He received no response. We are talking millions from Mr. Keating that he stole from an estimated 117,000 innocent Americans.
I doubt many of her other donors would have been happy knowing that the money they thought was going to her missions was actually going to JPII and his coffers. She did get the abortion issue right, even if she pretty much missed the boat on social justice issues and so the saint factory pushes her along, virtually unscrutinized.
JP II’s legacy is just as mixed and I doubt we’ll ever know the full extent of the Vatican’s complicity in certain CIA projects, especially in Central and South America. We know he was acting in concert with the CIA in Poland. Being of Polish descent, I constantly give him kudos for being instrumental in ending communism, but at the same time, he was also supporting a lot of right wing fascist dictatorships in the third world whose legacies are nothing to write home to Jesus about. It looks to me like one couldn’t get too far out on the right wing of things for his tastes. I’m not sure that qualifies him for sainthood.
What I am sure of is that in both the cases of John Paul II and Mother Teresa their mythical reputations are determining the morality of their actions. The existence of the Devil’s Advocate was to insure just the opposite—that a person’s actions would decide the legitimacy of their myth.
Both Mother Teresa and JP II benefit from the myth making of the media to such an extent that the media has taken the myth they helped create for fact. No mainstream publication has ever questioned or asked for any accounting of the money donated to Mother Teresa’s order nor have they truly investigated JP II’s handling of the Vatican bank even after all the scandal.
That’s why I fully suspect both will be canonized. Their individual myths are too great an advertising opportunity for the Vatican to pass up. Thank you St. Escriva.
Someday maybe Bishop Romero will get his due as well, but I think we’ll have to wait for a different kind of papacy. In the meantime sainthood seems reserved for those on the right path and especially those who maintained poverty while salting away millions. Rest assured Benedict will be dressed in pure spiritual transcendence should he canonize either one of them.
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