Isn’t it ironic that I find pretty much everything written at CNN’s “Belief blog” unbelievable?
Steven Prothero, a Religion Professor at Boston University, in dealing with the question of possible sainthood for Dorothy Day wonders whether Catholics can abide a saint who’s had an abortion.
Of course the answer is that last I checked most of the saints had a few sins. (Saint Augustine call your office) Prothero’s question is similar to asking whether sinners can become saints. Duh.
Prothero finally says that Day can become a saint but comes at the answer from an odd perspective. He concludes that abortion’s not really a big deal and Dorothy Day can become a saint because polling indicates the public is split over abortion. Because, you know, sainthood is decided by polling.
Day’s case raises a parallel question. Can you be a saint if you have committed the original sin of contemporary Catholicism?
My money says yes.
Partly that is because of the Christian teaching of forgiveness. But mostly it is because of the tendency of Catholics to diverge from the official party line on questions such as homosexuality, birth control and abortion.
According to a June survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, most American Catholics (54%) think that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. More than two-thirds of them (68%) believe you can be a good Catholic even if you disagree with your church’s opposition to abortion. And when it comes to the question of whether abortion is a sin, white American Catholics are evenly divided.
Of course, rank-and-file Catholics do not decide who is declared a saint. But they decide who will be revered as one. And in this case, I believe, they will forgive Day’s sin in part because, in their heart of hearts, many of them don’t consider it all that much of a sin in the first place.
The cause for Day’s sainthood won’t be swayed by polling. It won’t be based on Prothero’s opinion. It’ll be about a miracle from her intercession.
After reading this I’ll have a hard time taking anything written by Prothero seriously again. For that to change would truly be a miracle.