On April 02, 2005, the Toronto Star headline announced the death of Pope John Paul II at age 84.
One week later, an article by Rosie Dimanno entitled “A saint ... by popular demand” described the Santo Subito! (Sainthood now!) clamour for John Paul II's beatification. This could happen quickly. Sainthood now requires only 2 attributable miracles - a pared-down test devised by Pope John Paul II himself.
However, before sainthood is conferred, an important question should be thought about. We need to ask where Pope John Paul II presently resides. If not in heaven but in that other place, conferring sainthood would be an enormous faux pas.
Since this probably seems outrageous, let me suggest why Pope John Paul II may be in hell. Indeed, not only Pope John Paul II, but every Pope before him, along with an enormous throng of proselytizers, moralizers and legislators ... may be in hell.
The reason involves the fundamental notion most religions share. God created the world and populated it with human beings for three reasons:
- Human beings are to live in circumstances where 'God's Face' is hidden from them. Living on our own recognisances is the only way we can develop as moral agents.
- 'The world consists of circumstances wherein persons have opportunities to develop and then lead moral lives. This means that their circumstances must not be contaminated by Divinely ordained precepts and especially by the idea that good or evil behaviour will land them in heaven or hell.
- Innocent opportunities and ingenuous challenges are necessary for human beings to fulfil their spiritual destiny.
What does this have to do with Pope John Paul II? The logic is simple: if God went to the expense of creating the world as a spiritual gymnasium and examination hall, the last thing He would wish is to have this agenda revealed to candidates souls. How could they develop as moral agents if they are infected with notions of terrifying punishments and sublime rewards?
Yet, for at least a thousand years, most human beings have had some version of Revealed Truth rattling around in their heads. The results include the terrible ways we have been treating the world and one another. Is it not plausible that indifference to the state of the world and the fate of other people flows from believing that the earth is not our final home and that God loves those most who have chosen the true path? We have certainly concluded that morally remiss human beings (those who have chosen any other path but ours) must be either converted or exterminated.
Finally, since immortal souls cannot really be murdered, extermination simply means sending them along to their well-deserved punishment.
This remarkable story describes the world as a battleground between forces of good and evil, angels and demons, us and them.
We are told that Satan and his minions are wonderfully subtle. Accordingly, before any more saints are canonised, an important question needs to be answered. What could be subtler than sabotaging God’s plan by telling human beings about it?
Who has Pope John Paul II been working for?