27 October 2006

All Saints, All Sinners.


Today on Opinion Journal:

"This Wednesday is All Saints Day, the holy day when Roman Catholics commemorate the lives and virtues of all the saints. The word "saint," of course, has long since entered our broad cultural lexicon, implying virtue of the highest sort even to nonbelievers. But in practice, saintly virtue is rarely a lifelong possession. Indeed, it sometimes emerges only after a good deal of sin has gone before.

Can a cop killer be a saint, for instance? In recent years, certain Catholics have debated precisely that question. The retired archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Jean Marie Lustiger, thinks so. In 1987, he began the formal process by which Jacques Fesch, a convicted murderer guillotined by the French state in 1957, might be declared a saint of the Roman Catholic Church.

Fesch's case has generated widespread interest in France. Amazon.com's French site lists a dozen books about the repentant felon, including editions of his letters from death row, where he returned to the Catholic faith. In the U.S., Fesch is virtually unknown, but last month a popular Catholic blog's reference to Fesch as a candidate for sainthood set off a lively debate. Some of the blog's posters argued that as long as Fesch's conversion was sincere, he was eligible for sainthood. Others insisted that his scandalous life disqualified him from canonization. . . "

Here's the whole thing.
 

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