27 January 2010

How to be a saint

I read the headline on the Guardian's front page with joyful disbelief:
Pope John Paul II 'whipped himself'
Book claims late pontiff regularly self-flagellated, which may boost case for giving him status of saint
The article just expands on the point.
Now, I don't want to go into details, but really! What kind of messed-up belief system says that whipping yourself is a sign of holiness? I'm sure theologians could argue this point by point, presumably along the lines that identification with Christ's suffering brings one nearer to an understanding of God. But for me it's one of those occasions where you can say that if this is the outcome of a set of beliefs, something is seriously wrong there.

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