Maureen Dowd’s New York Times Easter weekend column, “Hold the Halo,” is both good and bad. This is generally how I feel about many of Dowd’s columns. She often raises some important points, makes some sensible critiques or observations, but these aspects are almost always mitigated by some detracting aspect of her reflection. I think this is case with her latest piece.
Like Dowd, I have mixed feelings about the fast-track beatification of the late Pope John Paul II. What is not mentioned is JPII’s own interest in fast-tracking universal recognition of Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado’s alleged holiness and we’ve seen what happens when one rushes such things without careful vetting. This is not to suggest that Pope John Paul II has similar skeletons in his closet, but there is a reason there is a standard five-year waiting period before the process begins. Even Mother Teresa had to wait 6 years after her death before Pope John Paul II celebrated her beatification.
Although Dowd can be imprudent at times and quick to make comments that may be construed as disrespectful, I think she raises an interesting point about the hasty beatification of any person, particularly in light of the clergy abuse coverup crisis. Is it wise to rush these sorts of proceedings? I agree with Dowd that it is incongruous that Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Oscar Romero and others — clearly symbols of Christian holiness and ordinary examples of everyday Gospel living — remain in recognition limbo, while others are rushed through. The politics don’t play equally for all.
Do I think that JPII rates the title “Blessed?” Yes, I do. But, probably not so soon. There are others that should not be forgotten.