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It took them a while to cotton on, but the Vatican’s spin-doctors have hit on a sure-fire recipe to improve the Church’s image and make us forget clerical pedophilia, Bishops of bling and shady deals in the Bank of the Holy Spirit : canonize Popes.  John XX111 and John Paul 2 have just recently made the big time, and now, “mirabile dictu” (“wonderful to say”), it’s Paul V1’s turn.  The unremarkable, already forgotten Pope who granted my dispensation from the priesthood (thanks to the personal intervention of the controversial Archbishop Marchinkus, famous for his Mafia connections as head of the Vatican Bank, just in case you’re in the mood for a teaser which happens to be true), will be beatified in October.  There are plenty more where Paul (Paul the Pope, not Paul Marchinkus) came from.  (Pius X11 ?  Don’t hold your breath …).

My bet is that Popes, Priests, religious Brothers and Sisters will be canonized in increasing numbers over the next decade.  I want to submit one of them as a candidate.

So far we have only one canonized Australian saint, Mother Mary McKillop, founder of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, the “brown Joeys”, who taught me in primary school .  Brother Charles (Elias) Howard, my personal Pygmalion at Marist Brothers Kogarah (see “From Illusions to Illumination”, p.20) deserves to be the second.  He was not only an exceptionally dedicated, charismatic teacher and devout Religious; he ended up General of the Marist Brothers world-wide with his head office in Rome.  He died of Alzheimers just a few years ago.  I have said of him that he is the best argument I know against atheism.  This is neither chauvinism, masochism or self-flagellation.  Charley was a gentle-man, a great man and an exemplary Christian.  Among the necessary miracles that could be submitted to bolster his candidature for sainthood, Rome should know that anyone who could get a moron in Math like me to pass both Mathematics 1 and Mathematics 2 in the Leaving Certificate (High School graduation) exams, had to have divine help.  He should be a shoe-in.