Papal lowlights

Does it sometimes seem like the path from papacy to canonization is a little too smooth these days? If so you will be glad to be reminded that not every pope is a promising candidate (and compared to some past bishops of Rome, the last five or ten were most certainly saintly). At the Toast, Josh Fruhlinger has compiled rejection letters from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to a few applicants whose cases are less than convincing. Stephen VI, for example: may not be aware that the Congregation has access to extensive historical records that do not necessarily corroborate all the material in your application packet. For instance, while we agree that the ordination of your predecessor, Pope Formosus, was irregular in several aspects, a wise and even-tempered administrator of the Church would have reacted to such problems in a forward-looking way, perhaps by reforming administrative processes to prevent them from recurring.

Instead, you dug up Formosus’s body, prop it up on a throne, and put it on trial — a trial that, from all reports, consisted primarily of yelling at said corpse. This made everyone very uncomfortable. A saint should provide a calming sense of God’s love to his flock, a sense of righteous unity in Christ, rather than a feeling of creeping, surreal horror.

Read the whole thing here.

Mollie Wilson O’​Reilly is editor-at-large and columnist at Commonweal.

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