Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Second Miracle for John Paul II?

Being Pope has to be the best job in the world. Unlike the position of a football coach or a corporate middle manager, or any other job you can name where your success depends on achieving positive results to improve the institution that is paying your salary, the job of being a Catholic Pope means you never have to do anything that makes any difference. It’s like being an absolute monarch or an emperor, but with less accountability. If you spout a papal utterance of some kind that condemns birth control and unplanned teen pregnancy at one and the same time, nobody will differ with your convoluted logic because implausible double-speak has always been an integral part of Catholic dogma. Or maybe you denounce homosexuality but totally ignore that same trait in your worldwide clergy. Everything is window dressing because that’s the main part of your job. And when your career finally comes to an end, maybe you can become a saint. As Dana Carvey’s church-lady used to say on SNL, “Isn’t that special?”

All the Vatican needs to make sainthood happen is a miracle or two. No problem. The process employed by the Vatican to find miracles is identical to the process used in the early George W. Bush administration to find reasons for invading Iraq. What’s required is a commitment to the ultimate goal, and nothing more. Then the necessary facts and data are simply manufactured to gain public support for that goal. This process works particularly well with Catholics and miracles because a person who can believe in the virginity of Mary will pretty much believe anything. In the case of John Paul II, the bar is set especially low because of his immense popularity and lifetime celebrity status. He could have taken the path that Pope Benedict has taken and done everything in his power to stop the Catholic priests from molesting little children. That would have been a true miracle. But he didn’t do that. Window dressing was easier for him. And when he needs that second miracle to gain sainthood, the Church can say that he once boiled a potato which came out of the scalding water looking like the face of Jesus.

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