Will each pope canonise his predecessor with the unspoken assumption that his own successor will return the compliment?
By Maureen Mullarkey | First Things |May 12, 2014
John XXIII once remarked that the Vatican was the hardest place on earth to remain a Christian. The pope’s impish bon mot floated like skywriting over the double canonization in St. Peter’s Square on the Second Easter Sunday. On the glittering heels of this production came advance notice of another: London’s The Tablet reported that Paul VI is on the books for beatification this coming October.
Are we at the point where election to the Petrine office is itself a signal of godliness, a guarantee of eventual canonization? Will each pope canonize his predecessor—or two or three of them—with the unspoken assumption that his own successor will return the compliment? Is election a promissory note drafted in white smoke, and redeemable at death for public elevation to the rank of saint? It begins to look that way.