Friday, August 21, 2009
From John Allen's column today (Disclosure: I chose St. Joan of Arc as my confirmation saint.):
When former President Corazon "Cory" Aquino of the Philippines died from colon cancer on August 1, she was hailed as a popular saint for having led the 1986 "People Power" uprising that toppled the regime of Ferdinand Marco, and then guiding her country into democracy.
At least one former Aquino aide, and a devout Catholic, believes that she deserves the formal kind of sainthood too.
William Esposo, a Filipino journalist who ran Aquino's media operation during the People Power uprising and her presidential campaign, has called her the "Joan of Arc of Asia" and believes that church officials ought to launch a formal canonization process. (I met Esposo, a longtime member of Focolare, some years ago during a Focolare event in Italy. He's a serious Catholic, so his proposal is not some casual journalistic conceit.)
Writing in The Philippine Star, Esposo said that "Like the Maid, Cory electrified her nation into patriotic passion and vanquished the tyrants of the land."
Aquino's central contrast with Joan of Arc, Esposo suggested, is one that almost makes Aquino the more attractive candidate for sainthood: "Cory would only accede to non-violent political activism … Cory discouraged armed struggle and preferred to entrust her fate and that of her people to the love and justice of God."
Esposo's bottom line: "Cory C. Aquino was just about the closest, if not the perfect specimen, that the world of politics will produce that could qualify to be a saint."
It's too early to know whether the Filipino church will indeed set the wheels in motion. Yet given how much emphasis the Vatican is placing these days on the relationship between faith and politics, Aquino could be a powerful role model -- sort of a cross, if Esposo will permit me to extend his image, between Joan of Arc and Thomas More. Needless to say, bestowing such an honor upon a lay woman would also have its own significance.
I'd vote for canonizing Cory, if for no other reason than that the image of thousands of yellow-clad Filipinos flooding St. Peter's Square ought to be a sight to see.