The Guardian, Cif Belief: Must the Catholic church dehumanise John Paul II to make him a saint?

Sadly, the process of canonisation seems to require stripping the former pope of his personality, to fit the sterile mould of a saint

When John Paul II is canonised on Sunday, it will be as much a result of his own actions on earth as any heavenly intercession. In streamlining the canonisation process during his pontificate, reducing the number of miracles required to prove that the candidate is reliably in heaven (all that canonisation amounts to), John Paul unwittingly made it possible for himself to be made a saint a mere nine years after his death. Two miracles – the apparent cure of a French nun from Parkinson’s disease and of a Costa Rican woman from a brain aneurysm – were sufficient for both canonisation and the extension of the PR value of this most charismatic of popes well into the 21st century – a century that, until the election of Pope Francis, seemed to be without any spark of vitality for the Catholic church.

In reality, the former Karol Józef Wojtyła is a saint already in the popular imagination, and this canonisation is the formalisation of a process of idolisation common to many ‘secular saints’. But like any celebrity, John Paul’s popular representation is contested, fluid and controversial…

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