At an historic and unprecedented canonisation ceremony in April 2014 the reigning pope of Rome, Francis I, watched by his predecessor, the retired Benedict XVI, canonised two dead popes, John XXIII and John Paul II. Over half a million Roman Catholics attended the huge event, along with large numbers of cardinals and many political heads of state.
Of course, many were there because of the promise having been made of a “plenary indulgence” being granted to all who attended. Nothing like the assurance of all sins being wiped off the record to draw in the crowds! But even so, it was a massive event that brought Rome to a standstill and brought money flowing in to Vatican coffers. And at the same time it did wonders for the Roman Catholic institution, so badly in need of some positive PR these days.
What Is “Canonisation”?
It’s a complicated business, so please, dear reader, pay attention. According to Roman Catholic theology, living Roman Catholics are not really saints. And they are told that when they die they have to spend an unknown amount of time in an imaginary place called purgatory, where they are supposedly purged to prepare them to enter heaven eventually…it could be thousands of years after they die. They just don’t know, and nor does anyone else. It is possible, however, for a Roman Catholic to become a saint, if he or she lives a life of extraordinary holiness. The Second Vatican Council stated that saints are “those who… imitated Christ’s virginity and poverty more exactly, and… others whom the outstanding practice of the Christian virtues and the divine charisms recommended to the pious devotion and imitation of the faithful.”
For a “saint”, there is no going to purgatory, but an immediate entrance into heaven. And once in heaven, the “saint” is able to answer prayers directed to them in heaven, by those still alive on earth; to intercede with God on behalf of those who pray to them. The Council of Trent declared: “The saints who reign with Christ, offer up their own prayers to God for men [this is their “intercession’]. It is good and useful suppliantly to invoke them [this is prayer to the dead], and to have recourse to their prayers, aid and help for obtaining benefits from God”.
The only problem is, those on earth cannot be sure that a particular person is a saint in heaven, unless…
Unless the pope of Rome declares that it is so, by an official pronouncement.
But how does even the pope of Rome know that some deceased person is a “saint”, and thus (being, as they believe, in heaven) supposedly able to intercede for the living here below? Well, at least two miracles have to be attributed to the dead one. Once this has been established to Rome’s satisfaction, the pope can then canonise the dead miracle-worker. To “canonise” dead people means, in the words of the official Roman Catholic Catechism, “solemnly proclaiming that they practised heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God’s grace”. Their canonisation is the official Papal pronouncement that the dead person is recognised as being a “saint” in heaven, thereby enabling the Roman Catholic faithful to add him to their list of people supposedly in heaven to whom they can address prayers and worship.
We warned you, dear reader, that it’s complicated.
But what does the Bible say?
How beautiful the plain teaching of Scripture on this point! All true Christians are saints – it doesn’t matter who they are – from the least to the greatest. Every single person, saved from his or her sins by God’s grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, is a saint already! They do not become saints only when they go to heaven – they are saints on earth, each and every one of them! And they are saints, not by their own supposed goodness or holiness, but by the grace of God alone. Paul wrote to the church at Rome and addressed them thus: “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints” (Rom. 1:7). In like manner he wrote to the Christians at Corinth: “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” (1 Cor. 1:2); and, “unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia” (2 Cor. 1:1). He was not writing letters to people in heaven, but on earth! And there are many, many more verses in Scripture which teach the same thing, but not one in support of the Popish teaching.
Furthermore, there is no such place as purgatory. It is not mentioned in the Bible, it does not exist. There is heaven, and there is hell. No middle ground.
And also: as the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father (Jn. 14:6), the only Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), and the One who intercedes for His people (Heb. 7:25), no dead Christian in heaven answers our prayers, or intercedes for us, and it is great sin to pray to them! Prayer to the dead is nothing less than necromancy, which is strongly condemned in the Bible for the heathenish and occult practice it is (Deut. 18:10-12). No dead person, even if he had been a true Christian on earth, is able to even hear, much less answer, the prayers of those on earth. If he could do this he would have power equal to that of God Himself, and would be a god! This is all blasphemy.
The Truth About “Saints” John XXIII and John Paul II
Let us consider the two Roman popes who were declared to be “saints” by the current Roman pope. What kind of men were they?
It is certainly true to say that they were two of the most influential figures of the 20th century. There can be no doubt of this. In fact, it can truthfully be said of John Paul II, in particular, that he can be ranked as one of the three most influential figures of the second half of the 20th century, along with Mikhail Gorbachev and Nelson Mandela – and not one of them for any good reason. Quite the opposite.
John XXIII was pope from 1958 to 1963. He it was who called for the Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II as it is known, to supposedly “modernise” the Roman Catholic institution. But what was its real purpose, and who really was John XXIII? We will make just two points here:
First: John XXIII was a pro-Communist pope. The following is taken from my book, Satan’s Seat: “In 1958 a new pope came to power. He was Pope John XXIII. Unlike his predecessor, John was pro-Communist. For many years under Pius’ anti-Communist rule, an increasing number of Roman Catholic ‘clergy’ had been drawn towards Communism, and many had in fact become Communists. Condemning its atheism, they nevertheless saw it as identical with ‘Christianity’ (i.e. Roman Catholicism), sociologically and economically. They believed that Christ and Lenin were both ‘social revolutionaries’ preaching the same Gospel! And John XXIII, the new pope, was one of them. He, like all the pro-Communist ‘clergy’, believed in a form of ‘Communist Catholicism’: Communism without atheism; Communism married to Roman Catholicism. As soon as he became pope, John broke the Vatican’s ties with the US, and began to have contact with the Kremlin in Moscow. Moscow began to ‘commit fornication’ with the Whore of Revelation (Rev. 18:3). High-ranking Communists visited the Vatican. Large numbers of Roman Catholics began to join the various Communist parties of Europe.”