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Thoughts for a Sunday Morning

imageThe topmost headline this morning at Religious New Services reads; “A rush toward sainthood for John Paul II?” And there is this brief second paragraph to the story:

By signing a decree accepting the miracle, Benedict completed one of most rapid beatifications in the modern history of the Catholic Church. Another miracle attributed to John Paul’s intercession will be required before he can be declared a saint.

I’m an Episcopalian (Anglican) and we think very differently about saints. We share many of the same saints of antiquity up to the reformation and some of the same more modern saints – even keeping to the same calendar of saints days for most. But we have many saints unique to our own tradition and in many cases unique to geography. Our process for naming saints is different and has been different at different times. For one thing we tend to select saints with great economy in synods and conventions by vote or acclamation. Miracles are not a criteria (I guess they could be but I doubt they would carry much weight as such). Generally speaking, and from a Lambeth Conference resolution in 1958, new saints should be “limited to those whose historical character and devotion are beyond doubt . . controversial names should not be inserted until they can be seen in the perspective of history . . . a new name should normally result from a wide-spread desire expressed in the region concerned over a reasonable period of time.”

We have traditional, mostly British saints like Thomas Becket, Alban, Augustine of Canterbury, the Venerable Bede and Alfred the Great.

We have many more modern saints including Martin Luther King, Jr.,  Dietrich Bonhoeffer , C.S. Lewis, Roman Catholic Cardinal John Henry Newman, Florence Nightingale, William Wilberforce and Richard Hooker.

The Roman Catholic Church canonized 22 Ugandan martyrs. We include these and add the 18 Anglican Ugandan martyrs and recognize the 40 as saints.

We have reformation saints such as Marin Luther, John Wycliff, William Tyndale and Thomas Cranmer.

Each province (or country) has its own list. For instance in the U.S. we include Harriet Beecher Stowe and Thomas Merton.

And each and every Anglican can, with personal prayer and study, believe and call anyone a saint. I include Copernicus, Galileo, William of Ockham (of Occam’s Razor – actually throw in the entire Franciscan School of Oxford), Charles Darwin (appropriately buried in a place of special honor in Westminster Abby) and Albert Einstein.

And in that spirit I have my own list of Shroud of Turin saints. Among them: Al Adler, Ray Rogers, Sue Benford and Fr. Kim Dreisbach. Oh . . . and John Paul II who said:

Since we’re not dealing with a matter of faith, the church can’t pronounce itself on such questions. It entrusts to scientists the tasks of continuing to investigate, to reach adequate answers to the questions connected to this Shroud.


The Shroud is an image of God’s love as well as of human sin … The imprint left by the tortured body of the Crucified One, which attests to the tremendous human capacity for causing pain and death to one’s fellow man, stands as an icon of the suffering of the innocent in every age.

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