Monday, April 18, 2011

'Blessed,' 'Saint,' and News that Makes Sense

Updated (10:30 p.m., Central, April 18, 2011)
I wasn't satisfied with this post, as published about four hours ago. I've rewritten what are now the second through fourth paragraphs. (through "books he's written.") That passage, and the final paragraph, may make a tad more sense now. Or, not. Either way, I'm leaving the post 'as-is.'
I've said this before: when religion gets covered in old-school news media, the results are often - - - odd, to be charitable. What gets published puts me in mind of what might happen if an editor assigned his staff's expert on French flutes of the Baroque period to cover the world heavyweight championship. (November 11, 2010)

I'm not faulting reporters, or editors, all that much. I've gotten the impression that the subculture they live in has its own notions about what 'religion' is.

I sometimes get the impression that America's journalists, many of them, got their religious education by watching "The Last Temptation of Christ" and "The Exorcist" - maybe even II and III in the "Exorcist" cycle. Then, being aware that you can't learn everything from the movies, maybe the wunderkinds became regular readers of The New York Times' Religion and Belief section.

Sort of like the expert who only reads books that he's written.

Am I being unfair? I'd like to think so - but it seems to me that the St. Mary MacKillop SNAFU was far from an uncommon situation.

Which is part of why I liked this CNS (Catholic News Service) article so much:
Catholic News Service has, quite properly, a fairly strict intellectual property rights policy about their articles, so I'm limiting these excerpts to what's appropriate for a review:
"The slight differences between a beatification and a canonization are easy to miss, especially when one pope beatifies another pope.

"Just three weeks before Pope Benedict XVI was to beatify Pope John Paul II, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments issued a decree designed, in part, to maintain the distinction....

"...During a beatification ceremony, the bishop of the diocese where the person dies asks that the candidate be declared blessed; at a canonization, the prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes speaks in the name of the whole church and asks that the candidate be declared a saint...."
There's more, including discussion of a custom that Pope John Paul II started and Pope Benedict XVI has continued; how many verified miracles are required before canonization - and when miracles aren't needed - and the following distinction between beatification and canonization:
"...Beatification is an 'administrative act' by which the pope allows a candidate for sainthood to be venerated publicly in places closely associated with his or her life and ministry; the place may be as small as one city, although usually it is the diocese where the person lived or died. In the case of Pope John Paul, his Oct. 22 feast day is entered automatically into the calendars of the Diocese of Rome and all the dioceses of his native Poland.

"A canonization, on the other hand, is a formal papal decree that the candidate was holy and is now in heaven with God; the decree allows public remembrance of the saint at liturgies throughout the church. It also means that churches can be dedicated to the person without special Vatican permission...."
There's quite a bit more to the article - and I hope CNS keeps it on their website long enough for you to read it. Cindy Wooden's article summarizes, I think, what's going on in beatification and canonization. And does so in a fairly easy-to-read article, without 'dumbing down' her content. Nice work.

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Brigid said...

There's a quotation mark missing: watching "The Last Temptation of Christ" and The Exorcist" - maybe

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


Found it, fixed it, thanks!

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Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

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