Growing up Roman Catholic meant hearing the names of various "saints" all the time. It appears John Paul II will soon be made a saint by the Roman Church. I get a kick out of one of the reports concerning his candidacy as a saint-
The beatification is taking place despite a steady drumbeat of criticism about the record-fast speed with which John Paul is being honored, and continued outrage about the clerical abuse scandal: Many of the crimes and cover-ups of priests who raped children occurred on John Paul's 27-year watch. But Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, the retired head of the Vatican's saint-making office who presided over the investigation into John Paul's life for the beatification, said Saturday the pope couldn't be held responsible for something he didn't know about. (NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press)
It's not the opposition to JPII's sainthood (on the basis of the RC child abuse scandal), that I get a kick out of, of course. Nor does the "head" of the Church's ignorance about a widespread sexual abuse situation evoke any kind of amusement in me. No, it's the "saint-making office"reference that strikes me funny.
I don't object with calling various figures in church history "Saint". St. Paul, St. Peter, St. James, etc. I do object with the idea that some Christians are saints and others are not. Anyone cleansed by the blood of Christ through faith is a saint. In Roman Catholic theology, the saints are in heaven. In the Bible, the saints are on earth (unless referring to their memory). In Roman Catholic teaching, a person becomes a saint when they are “beatified” or “canonized” after death by the Pope or the Vatican's saint-making office, as it were. In Scripture, everyone who has faith in Jesus Christ is a saint. In Romanism, the saints are revered, prayed to, and in some instances, worshipped. In the Bible, saints are called to revere, worship, and pray to God alone.
It is important to note, however, Scripture refers to Christians as saints but also calls Christians to live like saints. Understanding what this means comes from a knowing what the term "saint" literally means. The word “saint” comes from the Greek word hagios, which means “consecrated to God, holy, sacred, pious, holy." It is almost always used in the plural- "holy ones". So, people are positionally holy when they are in union with Christ by faith, but they are also called to live out their position by practicing holiness in this life. We can be reasonably sure saints were not people chosen by a group of bishops as the term is used extensively in the New Testament before very many bishops (elders) were appointed. The whole of the New Testament was written before 70 AD (95 AD at the latest), so the NT usage of "saint" refers to living Christians unless referring to the memory of a Christian who died.
Philippians 4:21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you
We're saints by virtue of union with Christ by faith...but we ain't always too saintly.