Sunday, January 17, 2010

Because I Believe a Saint is a Saint

Posted by Webster 
An op-ed piece in this morning’s New York Times reminds me of my sainted father railing against the liberal media. Back then, as recently as five years ago, I thought Dad was off his rocker. Now that I’m a Catholic, it’s more like, Dad rocked. Witness today’s NYT.

The article, Pope Quiz: Is Every Pontiff a Saint?, takes my Pope to task for pushing the canonization cause of not only Pope John Paul II but also the “controversial” Pius XII (left). I’m not here to debate these Popes as candidates for sainthood. (I'm not qualified!) Nor do I want to stick my nose into the much-bruited flap between Catholics and our ancestors in faith, the Jewish people, over the legacy of Pius XII. It only takes a few yappers to make a flap these days, especially if the “right” people get the ear of the “right” media. Why isn’t there a bigger flap in the NYT against abortion? But ecccchh—

What does disturb me and what I think is worth taking issue with is the choice of David Gibson to weigh in on this issue and his choice of “authorities” to buttress his point of view. Here is a clip from the Publisher’s Weekly review of Gibson’s “biography” of BXVI:

When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's name was announced as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church on April 19, 2005, Gibson, a journalist and Catholic convert, was among the throng but not cheering. The author of The Coming Catholic Church considers himself part of "the silent majority of Catholics, who were hoping, praying, for the vibrancy and openness that would herald a new chapter in the history of the church." Instead, he writes, they got a "polarizing figure" with a well-publicized past, a man known for his heavy hand with liberation theologians and others deemed to veer toward heterodoxy. . . .

I hear Dad railing. The NYT runs an editorial on the canonization question and they pick this guy? I canceled my subscription to the Boston Globe in the past week (don’t ask), and if I had a subscription to the NYT, it would be history too.

And who does Gibson choose to back his POV that BXVI is guilty of undue haste in beatifying his predecessors? If you were Gibson and you needed buttressing, you couldn't do better than (1) a Notre Dame professor of theology who states bluntly that John XXIII is “the only one of the recent batch of papal candidates for canonization who is at all credible” (like, you’re qualified to say?!) or (2) Hans Küng, whose feud with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and falling out with the Church is very old news. Admittedly, Gibson did call the Vatican press office for (3) an anonymous official counter-opinion (from a “papal spokesman”), but after giving this statement three lines, he immediately marshals a rebuttal from (4) Christopher Bellitto, “a church historian at Kean University in Union, N.J.” That makes it three named “authorities” against one anonymous papal flak. Well, I guess that settles that!

To paraphrase an irate Wendy Hiller in the final prison scene of A Man for All Seasons, “If anyone wants to know my opinion of David Gibson and his thesis, he only has to ask me!!"

Which is to say, Gibson really might have asked a faithful Catholic’s opinion. And this is mine. I believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lived on this earth two thousand years ago; that he entrusted his teaching to Peter, the Apostles, and the Church they founded; that he promised them that their actions would be guided by the Holy Spirit (“until the end of time”); that the Holy Spirit still acts through the Catholic Church today; and that if there seems to be a rush to canonization, begun during the Papacy of John Paul II, we owe it to ourselves to push beyond the typical academic and political arguments endorsed by the NYT and other mainstream media and ask ourselves,

“Isn’t it remotely possible that something else is at work here?”

What do you think?