Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Breaking news from the Vatican is that a couple of ex-Popes are going to be elevated to the sainthood.   It`s a weird thing being religious;  not something I`m really into given my own personal philosophy that if, when my clogs are finally popped, I get up there and find it`s all true, then I`ll be quick to apologise for having had any doubts.

And it`s things like turning ex-Popes into saints that confirms my belief (yes, I do have a few) that whilst I`m in no position to question the existence of an omnipotent being responsible for it all, then his, her or its representatives on earth leave me puzzled.   Religion has, of course, over the centuries been responsible for wars, the denial and suppression of education and realism, never mind the `issues` that the industry of religion has faced, or rather not faced up to, in recent times.....or maybe it was forever thus?

In some ways, religion reminds me of the Premier League - `the best league in the world`(tm) - determined to market its brand and its product to a largely captive audience, leading its disciples to a land of milk and honey whilst at the same time involved in practices that regularly bring the game into disrepute.

Now it seems that to obtain sainthood requires the candidates to go through a tortuous process involving them having had to be extremely pious, getting nominated by a live Pope and having a couple of miracles attributed to their name.   And it`s at that point that we enter the realms of the tooth fairy with `miracles` they have performed having been identified to speed their passage towards their saintly elevation.  

It seems that Pope John Paul II was responsible for the inexplicable recovery of a French nun, one Sister Marie Simon-Pierre Normand, who was apparently dying of Parkinson`s disease but was cured after she and her fellow nuns prayed for the intercession of the late John Paul II who had himself died of the same disease.  Then there was a second miracle, this time in the case of a 50-year old Costa Rican woman, Floribeth Mora, who claimed she was cured of a brain aneurysm after a photograph of John Paul apparently spoke to her with doctors later claiming that the aneurysm seemed to have disappeared for no apparent reason.

Similarly the miracle attributed to Pope John XXXIII also involved curing a woman and it seems that, in his case, that will do as no second `miracle` appears to be needed as he was such a good egg.  Seems coincidental that these miraculous events always involve healing women - never any mention of teams avoiding relegation or gaining promotion on the last day of the season.  Each of these identified papal miracles happened, of course, after the respective Popes had died so the whole business becomes even more obscure.   But then the catholic church, like other churches, has always dealt in arcane rituals and bizarre mystique, so why should the process of turning dead Popes into saints be any different?

Of course I already know all about the rebuttals that those who believe in all that stuff will trot out in response to my own disbelief and I don`t wish to offend anyone, since we all have the freedom to choose what we believe and what we don`t.   But maybe, in the end, the most astonishing miracle of all is that people actually do believe in all this earthly hokum rather than, like me, keeping their options open for when they might come in handy in the great unknown.

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