Who cares about Saints?

Sainted Popes

This canonisation clearly is of intense significance for Catholics, but it is also a powerful opportunity to better our world for believers and non-believers alike, writes David Perry of Dominican University, Illinois, for CNN

Yesterday, in Rome, Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII were canonised as saints of the Roman Catholic Church. 

Both men are widely popular among the laity. Both men also have critics.

For Catholics, however, saints don't have to be perfect. In fact, Catholics are inspired by the ability of saints to do good despite their human flaws. The process of canonisation concentrates devotion on the best features of a historical person.

In 1903, long before John XXIII was elected Pope, he wrote about each saint being 'holy in a different way.' These differences enhance, rather than detract, the importance of saints.

So what might non-Catholics take away from this?

Claire Noonan, vice president for Mission and Ministry at Dominican University in Illinois, suggested that we all might be inspired by their risk-taking. Both men, she said, 'moved through the world discerning where, when and how to act without fear.

'The possibilities of their lives were not constricted by desires for wealth, power or honour. That freedom makes way for the pursuit of truth, justice and love.' Noonan cites John Paul II's work against communist oppression in Poland and John XXIII's efforts to 'free the entire Church from the fear of modernism.'

Canonization provides an opportunity to shape memory.

People become recognized as saints, in part, through storytelling, a topic I study as an historian of the Middle Ages. 

If the canonizations of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II can inspire more of us, as individuals, to find a moral purpose and take risks, our lives will be better for it.

If the canonizations can help lead the Catholic Church away from bitter division and toward taking powerful moral positions on the world stage, especially following Francis' focus on poverty and inequality, we'll all be better for it.

Read full article: Why should you care about saints? (CNN)


Fr. Barron: Heroic hope of John XXIII and heroic courage of John Paul II (Vatican Radio)

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