Will Pope Emeritus Benedict Become a Saint? Religious Studies Professor Tells Us What To Expect

Joanne Pierce, professor of religious studies. Photo by John Buckingham

The Conversation

The funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI took place in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City on Thursday, Jan. 5, after three days during which mourners could view his body and pay their final respects. Around the same time, grassroots efforts calling on Benedict’s immediate canonization started taking shape.

In an article for The Conversation, Joanne Pierce, professor of religious studies at Holy Cross, explains the complex and politically fraught process of becoming a saint in the Roman Catholic Church and why every pope does not automatically become a saint.

According to Pierce, who is a specialist in Catholic liturgy and ritual, the Catholic Church teaches that saints are proclaimed so that others might be inspired by their lives and examples of “heroic virtue.” 

“But it takes time to thoroughly examine each cause individually, and hidden flaws may not be uncovered until much later after the candidate’s death,” said Pierce. “This was true for St. John Paul II, and might be the case for Pope Benedict XVI. But no one is recognized as a saint simply because he served as pope.”

To read the full article, go to TheConversation.com.