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Big questions on the road to sainthood.

Byline: ian PARRI

WALES is liberally sprinkled with saints, including 20,000 of them supposedly buried on Bardsey Island's mere 500 acres, obviously snuggled up together like holy sardines.

At one time saints must have outnumbered us heathen plebs two-to-one. Little wonder the pubs struggled.

Still, the proposed Pilgrims' Way footpath between Holywell and the island, recently endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, should be a crowd puller among Catholics, Protestants and those of us of no superstitious inclination whatsoever.

Mind you, it beats me why the head of the Anglicans should be so hot on sanctioning saints either canonised by the Papacy, or raised into sainthood by the earlier paganish Celtic Church.

That said, he's been known to parade in druidic sheets in the Gorsedd of Bards, kow-towing to the Archdruid. There's no accounting for taste, I suppose.

But he is Welsh, after all.

Given all that, it goes without saying that we should be experts in the field of sainthood.

And it does seem the present Pope is acting in indecent haste in arranging a leg up on to the sainthood ladder for his predecessor John Paul II, beatifying him in front of 1.5m pilgrims in the Vatican last Sunday.

Sure, they say he helped bring down communism, if that was as much of the good deal it was purported to be.

But he didn't do half as much as Lech Walesa or Mikhail Gorbachev, yet there's no chance of them achieving sainthood. Nor should there be.

Furthermore, John Paul helped spread AIDS through his uncompromising opposition to the use of condoms. As if he knew anything about these things.

And it was on his watch that the lid was firmly shut on a wave of complaints about sexual abuse by criminal priests.

I realise there are perverts in other religious organisations too. But their former head honchos aren't likely to be made saints any time soon, are they? It seems John Paul needs to have a second verified miracle attributed to him to become a saint.

The first is apparently the case of a French nun's purportedly inexplicable recovery from Parkinson's disease after praying to him following his death. Ho hum.

Medical experts suspect Sister Marie Simone-Pierre was suffering from some other nervous disorder, from which temporary recovery has been known, and whispers suggest her health is back in decline.

Mind you, we only have the word of the Vatican's saint-making department, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, about the validity of this "miracle."

And we'll have to believe them about the second one too. Ah well, that's OK then. We'll just try to get at the truth at confessions.

If you're looking for provable modern-day miracles, though, I defy you to better Brian Clough's remarkable record of winning the European Cup twice in succession with Nottingham Forest.

Yes, tiny Nottingham Forest, a miracle akin to the Chief Rabbi judging the pigs at the Royal Welsh Show.

Clough once quipped: "When I go, God's going to have to give up his favourite chair."

I wonder whether He sits left or right of St Brian?

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The current Pope after a ceremony to beatify his predecessor John Paul II - the quickest beatification in modern times
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 6, 2011
Words:540
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