Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Things Saint What They Used To Be"

While Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II, and Sr. Lucia Dos Santos of Portugal
are on the fast-track to sainthood, Matt Talbot is not on such a list. Yet for those interested in or directly affected by alcoholism and know of him, Matt Talbot has been an example and inspiration since his death in 1925. (JB)



A LEADING Irish theologian has accused the Pope of devaluing the process of canonisation by implementing a fast track route to sainthood.

Pope John Paul II has canonised 455 saints in his period in office - more than any other Pope. He has beatified more than 1,200 putting them on the road to early sainthood.

Theologian Gina Menzies said: "He has gone out of his way to ensure that nearly every time he visits a country he canonises a local holy person. This Pope seems to be a Pope who goes for volume.

"The process of canonisation is being undermined by the numbers and speed that people are becoming saints.

"There is a real danger of devaluing the status of saints.

"Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer will be made a saint this week and he is only dead 27 years - whereas Thomas Moore was dead 400 years before he was canonised."

Fr Tom Jordan agrees: "Speedy canonisation is undervaluing the process. If you have too much of anything it isn't as valued as a rare event."

Some theologians say they are concerned that becoming a saint has a lot to do with lobby groups and less to do with popular cult appeal.

Fr Jordan said: "Some people lead lives of faith, love and charity and should be saints but are not even recognised.

"It is an exclusive club and often people with certain support have a better chance of making it.

"Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer is the founder and head of OPUS DEI so he has some very influential support - perhaps contributing to his rapid canonisation."

If you want to be a saint you will be in with a better chance if you are an Italian or Polish unmarried male member of a religious order who has a strong lobby group.

One man whose canonisation is not progressing is Dubliner Matt Talbot who is revered by many. Matt Talbot led a holy life and also overcame his alcohol addiction.

Derek Warfield from the Wolfe Tones said: "I credit Talbot for helping me give up the drink.

"In the seventies my music meant that I was around alcohol a lot. Before I even realised I had a problem I found myself dependent.

"My mother-in-law had great devotion to Talbot but I never really took it seriously. I started to read about his life and then began to pray to him - he gave me the strength to deal with my drinking problem.

"In my eyes and in the eyes of a lot of Dubliners he will always be a saint - we don't need a church in Rome to tell us he is a saint, the community can pick them out very fast."