Rorate Caeli

Canonizations: And why not Mastai-Ferretti?

While this blog has editorialized in favor of accepting the canonizations today, one of my colleagues in Rorate has also argued that today's line-up of papal saints-to-be is short of one man - the Ven. Pius XII. Now I would like to point out another Pope whose inclusion in today's rites would have been appropriate as well. 

The theoretical case for the inclusion of Bl. Pius IX -- Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti -- in today's canonizations is probably even stronger than that of Pius XII. Not only is he already beatified, but he was beatified together with John XXIII (who deeply admired him and hoped to celebrate his canonization), by decision of John Paul II, who had previously declared him a Venerable. During the beatification ceremony, John Paul II explicitly praised Pius IX's "fidelity to the immutable deposit of revealed truths" and his work in opening the First Vatican Council, even as he praised John XXIII for opening the Second Vatican Council. It was a true balancing act, notwithstanding the continued adulation in numerous sectors of the Church, before and after this beatification ceremony, of Vatican II as a Super-Council. 

His Holiness Pope Francis exercised the fullness of his power to dispense with the normal procedures in order to proceed with the canonization of John XXIII, and his canonization is widely understood as not just a tribute to his personal holiness but also as an unspoken "canonization" of the Second Vatican Council. In not doing the same for the Pontiff who opened the First Vatican Council and who was beatified alongside the same John XXIII, the message is reinforced (whether unintended or not) that one Council is more equal than all the others; and that Popes of a certain era -- the one after 1958 -- were privileged with holiness and grace, and deserve precedence in recognition, far more than their immediate predecessors of the previous centuries.