Why did so few mention irrationality at heart of papal canonisations?
Opinion: Protests of clerical child abuse victims were drowned out
‘Representatives of thousands of victims of clerical child sex abuse from around the world had gathered in Rome in an effort to draw attention to their treatment at the hands of the imminent saint. By and large, their efforts failed.’ Photograph: Franco Origlia/Getty Images
It was, presumably, a reluctance to rain on the popes’ parade that prevented all but a tiny minority of those covering the double canonisation acknowledging the irrationality that lay at the heart of the occasion. Canonisations depend on miracles and miracles are matters not capable of rational explanation.
To declare somebody a saint is not to assert that he or she lived a virtuous life but that they are now living in heaven and have the ear of God to pass on pleas for favours beyond the ability of mortal beings to deliver. The key miracle in John Paul II’s case concerned the recovery from a brain aneurism of Costa Rican woman Floribeth Mora Diaz in May 2011, just a month after being told that she’d soon die.
Diaz told that she had watched the beatification of John Paul exactly three years ago, on May 1st, had then fallen asleep and had awakened to hear John Paul say, “Do not be afraid, get up!” Her aneurism was gone. The most obvious explanation is initial misdiagnosis. But when reports of the cure reached the Vatican, officials decided that a miracle granted to John Paul was the more likely explanation
The reports had come to the Vatican’s attention not, as would be normal, from the diocesan authorities but from the internet: Diaz had posted her news on a number of sites. The Holy See, as if in a frantic hurry, immediately summoned her to Rome. She travelled incognito, posing as a tourist – a precaution against embarrassment if the cure claim turned out to be unsustainable.
After examination by a team of objective medical experts appointed by the Vatican, Diaz’s cure was pronounced miraculous.
John Paul’s beatification (as opposed to canonisation) miracle had been remarkably similar – the recovery five years earlier of French nun Sr Marie-Simon-Pierre from Parkinson’s disease. The nun did not assert that she owed her recovery to miraculous intervention, much less to intercession by John Paul: she had been praying to a number of saints. However, the Vatican ruled that it had been John Paul who had made the crucial intervention.
There was something appropriate about this. One of the most high-profile canonisations of John Paul’s own pontificate had been of Josemaría Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei. He had been credited with the sudden recovery in June 1976 of Spanish Carmelite Sr Concepción Boullón from a cluster of serious illnesses specified by the medical consultants to the Congregation of The Causes of the Saints to have included the deadly lipocalcinogranulomatosis. She had been praying to Escrivá.