Dear Pope Francis, I have an idea. You know how you keep advancing the sainthood causes of all your predecessors? What if you stopped doing that?
That’s my idea. It’s pretty simple: Just stop making every pope a saint. Instead of canonizing Paul VI this year, as you are reportedly planning to do, I suggest…not doing that.
As you know, in 2014, a year after you became pope (and not even ten years after the death of John Paul II), you canonized Popes John XIII and John Paul II on the very same day. And now I read in the paper that Paul VI is on the docket for 2018, and my first response is to joke, “Who’s next, St. John Paul I?” But it turns out I can’t make that joke, because you officially recognized John Paul I as “Venerable” just a few months ago.
Is it possible you’re getting a little carried away?
It’s not that I have anything against these men as individuals. Who am I to judge? It’s just that it seems like a pretty big coincidence for all of the popes since Pius XII—ahem, Venerable Pius XII—to have been men of uncommon heroic virtue. You must agree that, in theory, a non-saintly person could become pope. I will go so far as to say that it has happened before. So, if the modern church really has managed to elect an unbroken string of papal saints in the past century, well, that’s impressive, but considering that the pope is the one who gets to make that call, it’s also a bit...suspect.