Just posted: The saintly politics of Francis

Just posted on the website: E. J. Dionne Jr. comments on the announcement by Pope Francis that John Paul II and John XXIII will be canonized together:

Pope Francis is proving himself to be a genuinely holy man, a brilliant politician and a leader who knows that reform requires a keen understanding of how creating a better future demands sophisticated invocations of the past.

Nothing demonstrated all three traits better than Francis' announcement that he would make both Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII saints. The obvious political analysis here is correct: On the whole, conservative Catholics will cheer swift sainthood for John Paul while progressive Catholics will welcome the news that an overly long process of elevating John to the same status had reached its culmination. One for one side, one for the other – it’s a good formula for harmony, something Catholicism needs right now....

[E]xcept among the ranks of scholars and older progressive Catholics, Vatican II is so often a dim memory. Moreover, there are conservative voices in the church that have sought to play down just how important the council was in opening Catholicism to the modern world. Pope John embraced modernity and the lessons it had to teach Catholics even as he was critical of modernity’s failings.

By lifting up John, Pope Francis is telling Catholics to embrace this legacy again -- beginning by paying attention to it. In so doing, he will reinforce comparisons already being made between himself and Pope John.

Read the whole thing here.

Dominic Preziosi is Commonweal’s editor. Follow him on Twitter.

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