by Greg Spearritt
There's a spot of controversy about just what it takes to become a Catholic saint nowadays. Specifically, how many miracles are needed, and what qualifies as miraculous? And is fast-tracking procedurally kosher (so to speak)?
Whatever the arguments, two recent Popes - John Paul II and John XXIII - are about to be canon-fodder.
John Paul II, however, has a mixed record when it comes to miracles. His regulation two are both medical ‘cures', but there's been a recent complication.
Imagine that a monument in JP II's name blocked a falling building and saved someone's life. Would that be a miracle attributed to this prospective saint? Nothing surer. Now imagine the opposite of that: a monument in JP II's name falls and kills someone. What would that be?
No need for imagination in this last case: it's actually happened. Just three days before the canonisation ceremony, a 30m-high wooden crucifix honoring JP II has collapsed in northern Italy, crushing a 21-year-old man to death.
Is this evidence of mal intent on the part of our saint-in-waiting? Hmmm... no sign of that interpretation from the Vatican. A case of wanting to have it both ways?