How he loved the children!

AN IRISH Catholic bishop has predicted that Pope John Paul II, who arrived in Ireland 30 years ago today, will most likely have a higher status than sainthood in the Catholic Church. The Bishop of Meath, Most Rev Michael Smith, who was centrally involved in organising the papal visit, said he would not be surprised if Pope John Paul II was made a Doctor of the Church. This, he felt, would be due to the late pope’s teachings on human sexuality but more particularly those on the dignity of the human person.

Currently just 33 of the many thousands of saints in the Catholic Church are designated Doctors of the Church. These are men and women who have, as Bishop Smith said, “been identified as having made an extraordinary contribution to the teaching of the church and to the interpretation of the words of Christ, and to elaboration of the whole understanding of the church.” Among Doctors of the Church are St Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas, St Francis de Sales, St John of the Cross, St Anthony of Padua, St Teresa of Ávila, St Catherine of Siena and St Thérèse of Lisieux. As Bishop Smith explained, St Thérèse was elevated because she wrote “so deeply on God as love, a message we want to hear in our own country and didn’t hear enough in the past.”

He also suspected Pope Benedict might, in time, become a Doctor of the Church. “In this generation we are very blessed to have had two popes who have made an enormous contribution to church teaching and church belief.”   Patsy McGarry,  Religious Affairs Correspondent.  ( From the Irish Times, September 29, 2009 — see original).