One of the things which has been on my mind lately is the use of symbolism with in the JPII/Benedict XVI papacies. Benedict seems to be making his symbolic statements with Liturgical ritual and vestments. As Bill Lyndsey points out in a comment on another post, it's now gotten to the point where L'Osservatore Romano has taken to apologizing and explaining for this penchant of Benedict's. He's not being ostentatious, He's dressing in Christ.
John Paul II made most of his statements with his Saint factory and it's quite a statement. 438 of them with the likes of Pius IX, he who epitoimized antisemitism in the guise of 'caring for their souls' while giving us the infallibility doctrine and Vatican I; Jose Maria Echeverria whose legacy is Opus Dei and all it's fascist connections and secrecy; and let's not forget Cardinal Stepanic whose performance in World War II was abysmal as he rooted on his Franciscans in their various campaigns to support their Nazi bretheren with genocide.
Each of these saints is a political statement underlining the fact that their are certain elements within the Church which certainly see themselves as superior to other forms of humanity. I think more attention needs to be given to JPII's saint factory before we add him to the ranks of saints. One of the changes he made in order to get the factory to full production was to remove the office of Devil's Advocate. This one move pretty much took away any meaningful neutral examination of the life of a given person. The other thing he did was to actively interfere in the process. The most glaring examples were to fast track Mother Theresa and then demand that the cause for Bishop Oscar Romero not be opened until fifty years had passed. That was later rescinded to twenty five years. It doesn't take a genius to see that Bishop Romero and Mother Theresa were on the opposite sides of the political spectrum and whose side JPII was on.
Personally, I think moving forward on both JPII and Mother Theresa should be approached with caution. There are skeletons in both their closets which need examining and both of them are products of a purposeful myth making which overlook some of their less saintly attributes.
For instance, in Mother Theresa's case, her order had 50 million dollars in one New York City account at the same time her religious and lay apostalates working in the field, were reusing needles because they had no money. Stories about the true state of affairs in her orphanages are reminiscent of Romania, and she personally was not big on the concept of alleviating pain in terminal patients with palliatives. She believed our lot in life was to suffer and share in Jesus's suffering. I guess that's all right if that's what you believe, but to have it forced on you is an entirely different matter. This reluctance to administer pain medication was a real issue for medical volunteers working in her facilities. At the same time that Bishop Romero was being gunned down in El Salvador, Mother Theresa was gushing over the likes of Papa Doc Duvalier and castigating liberation theology, while not looking too closely at where her large donations were coming from or how much of this money was being diverted to the Vatican. And we are talking millions and millions here. I doubt many of her donors would have been happy knowing that the money they thought was going to her missions was actually going to JPII and his coffers.
But she did get the abortion issue right, even if she pretty much missed the boat on social just issues and so the saint factory pushes her along, virtually unscrutinized.
JP II's legacy is even more mixed and I doubt we'll ever know the full extent of the Vatican's complicity with certain CIA projects, especially in Central and South America. We know he was acting in consort with the CIA in Poland, and I constantly give him kudos for being instrumental in ending communism, but at the same time, he was also supporting a lot of right wing fascist dictatorships in the third world whose legacy's are nothing to write home to Jesus about. It looks to me like one couldn't get too far out on the rightwing of things for his tastes. I'm not sure that qualifies him for sainthood at all.
Of course both Mother Theresa and JP II benefit from the myth making of the media so I fully suspect both will be cannonized. Their individual myths are too great an advertising opportunity for the Vatican to pass up, but I'm not convinced the reality of their lives actually lives up to the sainted myths. Someday maybe Bishop Romero will get his due as well, but I think we'll have to wait for a different kind of papacy. In the meantime sainthood seems reserved for those on the right path.