I have a generally positive, albeit surface-level, impression of the relatively new Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.¹ He seems to rise above even their mere tradition, making his own way based on conscience, if not scripture. Yet Francis is not above descending to the so-called “elevation” of mortals to some presumed special standing! Please note these words from Leroy Garrett, just posted in his newsletter, available via http://www.leroygarrett.org. These succinct thoughts are much better put than my own would have been.²
The presumed saint-making presently going on in Rome strikes me as juvenile, like children playing games in the street. Children make castles of snow and sand, while clergy in sacerdotal robes create saints with incantations and holy smoke. Only he who “planted the ear and formed the eye” can turn sinners into saints, and this by their turning from their sins and believing in and being baptized into Christ. All those who receive the gift of the Holy Spirit at baptism are sanctified or made saints. Rome’s game-playing, which is receiving premier media coverage — as if it were for real — reminds us of what Luther and the Reformation did for the church by restoring “the priesthood (and sainthood) of all believers.” But it can’t be plainer than the way Paul put it to the Philippians (1:1): “To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.”
Sainthood is God-given by grace, not hierarchically bestowed or politically endowed.
¹ I specify what he is Pope of because “Pope” is an in-house title, inapplicable to the broader world. In other words, just as your “pastor” is not my pastor, the RC Pope is not pope of the cosmos or of the earth or of the country of which I am a citizen. “Pope” and “pastor” are titles that deal with functional and/or hierarchical relationships inside an organization.
² I may yet comment on President Obama’s Easter words. (It is interesting that he seems to have had a “take” at all.)