On April 27 2014, the world watched in awe as 800,000 people, 6000 Priests, 700 Bishops, 150 Cardinals, 24 Heads of State and 2 live Popes gathered in the Vatican to make two dead popes into “saints”. A thunderous applause erupted with the declaration:
“We declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II be saints and we enroll them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole church.”
According to Catholic belief, the saints are those who died and are now with Christ in heaven as intercessors, and have been given recognition by the Church for outstanding holiness and virtue. But according to the Bible, the word saints (Gr: Hagios) means “consecrated to God or holy” and it refers to all true Christians – even those who sadly lack spiritual maturity.
The epistles were addressed “to the saints which are at Ephesus” (Eph. 1:1), “to all the saints in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:1), “to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ” (Col. 1:2). These were all living people.
The Catholic process of making someone a saint usually takes decades and sometimes centuries, to certify their merit. There are exceptions, though, like in the case of Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer (founder of Opus Dei), it took 27 years to make him a saint after his death. Some of the criteria used are:
1. There must be verification of two miracles experienced by persons who prayed to the dead candidate. John Paul II met with this criterion but John XXIII didn’t, so Pope Francis waived the requirement aside and accepted one miracle instead.
2. Incorruptibilty – If the body of the candidate is free from decay after it’s exhumed from the grave. St. Catherine of Siena (d. 1380) was said to have remained undecayed for 600 years!
3. Liquefaction – If the dried blood of the wannabe saint liquefies on a feast day. This is said to occur to the blood of St. Januarius (patron of Naples) every September 19, his feast day.
4. Odour of Sanctity – If the candidate’s body allegedly exudes a sweet aroma like roses, rather than putrid smell. Catholics claim the grave of St. Teresa of Avila exuded a sweet fragrance for 9 months after her death.
5. An inquiry into the person’s life, conduct and writings. Isn’t it curious that the same John Paul II who venerated the Quran; fellowshiped with snake charmers and occult animists; embraced evolution; rejected salvation through Christ alone and protected thousands of paedophile priests passed the Catholic “saint quality control” system? Very convenient.
In Scripture, the word “saints” was applied to believers on earth who were not outstanding people like Peter or Paul.
Acts 9:32 “Peter visited one place after another and eventually came to the saints living down in Lydda”
Acts 9:41 “Peter helped her to her feet, then called in the saints and widows...”
1 Cor. 1:2 “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints…”
2 Cor. 13:12 “Greet one another … all the saints send you greetings”
Biblically, all one has to do to become a saint is to repent and believe the gospel. A person may be declared a “saint” on earth by some men in robes, but if he rejected the gospel that saves or died in his sins, he is in Hell. It matters not if his blood is liquefied or his corpse smells like Blue de Chanel.
Catholics pray to and revere their “saints”, but in the Bible, saints revere and pray to God. The very old tired Catholic excuse is: “Just as you ask your fellow Christians to pray for you, we are asking them to pray for us.” This is a faulty argument.
First of all, the dead have passed from this world and are dead to us. If we desire the prayers of the saints, we seek the living. God specifically condemns communion with the dead (Deut. 18:10-11). Any form of communication with the spirits of the dead is spiritism and an abomination before God.
We don’t light candles to our fellow Christians, or bow before their pictures or pray to them to protect and guide us as Catholics do to their saints, so the inter-Christian prayer parallelism falls flat. Even the New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967, 11:670) admits: “Usually in the N[ew] T[estament]; all prayer, private as well as public liturgical prayer is addressed to God the Father through Christ.”
The Catholic Encyclopedia also says that the main objections against prayers to saints is “that these doctrines are opposed to the faith and trust we must have in God alone … and that they cannot be proved from the Scriptures” (Vol. 8, p. 70). We heartily agree with these objections.
The Lord Jesus taught us to pray as thus “Our Father in heaven” that is, our prayers are to be addressed to the Father in heaven. He also taught us that “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (Matt. 6:9, Jn. 14:14). Since only God can do and know all things, only He can answer prayer.
Saints in heaven are not omnipotent or omniscient, so how can they protect or hear the prayers of millions of Catholics from all around the world, in different languages at the same time? It’s simply impossible.
Catholicism also places much emphasis on saint relics. These could be body parts, items or clothing used by the saints. These are kept in ornate boxes (called reliquaries) and are displayed for veneration. No Catholic altar is complete without a relic. And relics too have their grades:
a) Bones/blood of saints are “first class relics”.
b) Items they used are “second class”
c) Objects they touched are “third class” (John Paul II’s bloody shirt worn when shot by an assassin and bits of John XXIII’s skin taken from his cadaver were kept).
Indeed, Catholicism’s sainthood is unbiblical, man-made, idolatrous and superstitious. True Christianity is based on a relationship with a Living Saviour, not with human skulls, rotten flesh or rags. The only man in Scripture who ever prayed to a dead “saint” was a man who was already in Hell, and his prayer wasn’t even answered! (see Luke 16). Yes, sometimes, such “prayers” do receive answers, but the entities answering prayers to dead “saints” are enemies of God.