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Australia is about to get its first Saint. Mother Mary Mackillop’s post-mortem application for Sainthood has quietly progressed along the path to canonisation and enlightenment. It’s an elegant bureaucratic system of delegation. First a formal application must be made, appropriate documentation tendered that the requisite miracle has been performed and cleared by a subcommittee of experts (formally, the Congregation of the Causes of Saints). Mother Mary still must be approved by the full Commission of Cardinals, and then a Papal Declaration must be made but these are seen as just a matter of rubber stamping. The process works beautifully, and God’s involvement is not required at all. He doesn’t even need to get up off his throne, or sacrifice another of his bastard sons.

The process is really a proof of the power of God and belief. Unlike other bureaucratic queues, Mary Mackillop’s canonisation application has progressed rather quickly. Mackillop, who died in 1909, performed her first miracle in 1961. This miracle was accepted by the Full Church Committee in 1993, without any need whatsoever for that annoying woman who keeps repeating “your call has progressed in the queue; your call is important to us. We thank you for your patience.”

Her second miracle progressed even faster thanks to the privatisation of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints. The Congregation is now structured as a joint venture between the most Holy Catholic Church and external consultants, including non-believers (see SMH article, last paragraph). The miracle, performed in the mid-1990s was recognised just yesterday a mere 15 years later. Commentators were ecstatic that the process moved so swiftly, saying that moving any faster would have “required a miracle.” By comparison, Galileo, who was condemned by another errant Church subcommittee in 1633, was pardoned on appeal in 1992 – some 359 years later.

Whilst seen by some as unwieldy, the Church insists the process is necessary to maintain the rigour of the definition of ‘miracle’ which is strictly proscribed by Canon law. In a formal statement, the Church said

“We don’t want people to redefine the word  ‘miracle’ redefined like they redefined marriage. The whole church is still reeling from shock that marriage now includes interracial marriage. The case is now on appeal, we expect an official determination and proclamation by 2050.”

‘Miracles’ usually involve the great unwashed praying for the future Saint to intercede on their behalf with God. Cardinal Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, exhorted that all Australians should act more like Mother Mary:

“Probably the best thing we can do to preserve Mary MacKillop’s memory is to try to act like she did. Try to serve and help people and try to be charitable, calm, and forgiving when we are in the midst of a few hassles.”

And I would certainly agree with those sentiments. More Australians should get involved in the political process and lobby God – not to gain benefits for ourselves, but to gain benefits for others. As Premier Kristina Kenneally, a devout Catholic, said,

“Mary Mackillop does not lobby God on behalf of those who donated to her Church. Whether those people might have donated money to her church is not relevant. These miracles helped not only those individual cancer sufferers, but all the people of New South Wales.”

Wise words indeed.


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