By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
Sri Lanka is about to welcome the new Pope, Francis. The current Pope deserves much respect for his modernity and progressiveness. The Catholic Church has long been outmoded as it had failed to meet the challenges that a changing society brings up. On central issues like birth control, aids and euthanasia the Church flopped, thereby increasing the woes of people rather than assuaging their ills. African Catholics, for instance have been subject to the cruel ravage of Aids in their communities mainly due to the Church banning safe sex devices like condoms. The theory peddled by the Church as justification is that sex is only for procreation and not fun and enjoyment. This view runs counter to all findings of modern biology, behavioral psychology and psychiatry. Yet, the Church headed by their Popes did not budge. On the other hand, Pope Francis Pope has been courageous to turn upside down many of these stupid and outworn ideas.
The current Pope has also shown an independence of mind to question many a doctrinal belief. He has announce new ideas about God etc. I think he must also think about the traditional practice of creating saints. The visit of Pope Francis to Sri Lanka is partly to create a Sri Lankan saint. We saw how his predecessor created an Australian saint. One wonders if this policy is a play to the gallery by pleasing the nationalistic instincts of people.
I had an email from a Catholic in America that read as follows: “I am describing Canonization here: An act by which the Catholic Church declares a deceased person to be a saint, to be included in the canon, or list of recognized saints who are invoked by many (but not all Catholics) praying to God. It is a tedious process of scrutiny when his or her life is put under the microscope by a group–called the devil’s advocates arguing against him or her.”
I doubt the “tediousness” in the picking process. Looking at past history one gets a feel that there has been an air of nonchalance in creating saints. The Catholic Community Forum lists some 5120 saints created thus far over the years. If you go to the website of the American Catholic Organization you will find listed a massive array of saints. They are arbitrarily assigned expertise in different areas such as follows: Advertising: St Bernadine of Siena; Aids: St Peregrino Laziori;Air Travel: St Joseph of Cupertioni;Anesthetics: St Rene Goupil;Beekeepers: St Ambrose;Blacksmiths:St Dunstan;Blind: St Lucy;Cancer: St Peregrino Laziori;Deafness: St Francis De Sales;Disabled: St Giles; Epilepsi: St Vitus and Firefighters: St John of God. The list goes on and on and one wonders what this is all about.
All these saints are said to have intercessory power with God. Can any of us listen to three persons at a time? How could, then, a particular saint listen to the prayers of thousands from all over the globe expressed in diverse languages? Doesn’t this violate commonsense?
In creating this vast pantheon of mythology Catholicism becomes inadvertently polytheistic with diverse heavenly bodies including angels and saints (not to mention the special case of the Virgin Mary) floating around in heaven.
If the Catholic Church is to advance toward the 21st century its head, the Pope, must focus attention on cleaning up senseless doctrinal tenets and practices. Perpetuating these senseless beliefs only helps to encourage the spread of ignorance and irrationality.