A friend posted this today. Thoughts? Is it accurate?
It’s mostly accurate, but it does not really address the question. Mr. Adams attempts to categorize the question into four classes. The first three are irrelevant.
The final category (bad, period) is relevant, but Mr. Adams uses the term “bad” in a way not normally applied to the Papacy. He does not mean that a Pope was guilty of sin, or that he taught error. There have been several Popes who were guilty of egregious sin (Alexander-4, for example), but folks are still trying to find one that taught error (we debate such claims all the time here on CAF).
According to Mr. Adams, the definition of “bad” in this case is a Pope who did not do what he ought to have done, when he ought to have done it (Adams cites only Popes in this final category, none of which are Canonized, and are thus not even relevant to the question). I would not consider such Popes to be “bad” (which implies a moral judgement) but rather, at worst, “ineffective” (I am NOT saying that Pius-9 was ineffective - I am saying that the WORST that can be said of him is that he was ineffective).
Mr. Adams cites the thoroughly discredited claims that WW2 Popes were anti-Semitic. I am an admirer of Cecil Adams, and I am quite surprised that he perpetuates this fiction. If he wishes to cite ineffective Popes, there are plenty of unimpeachable candidates. Pius-9 is NOT the one that he ought to cite (because it’s ridiculous).
I believe the contest would have to be between The Good Thief and St.Peter. (Completely presumptuous of me I know, but only in a bit of fun.)
There was Peter, falling into the water as he doubted whilst walking to Christ across the waves; Get behind me Satan style admonitions; denying Christ three times when he was most needed. A complete failure, except when He acknowledged Christ as our Saviour and was given the leadership of the Church, or when he said he had no where else to go when asked by Christ if the apostles would leave also at the demands of the Eucharist, for Christ had the words of eternal life. But this same sadly weak man gave his life for his Master. If we could all be such failures.
Then there is the luckiest man alive, at the wrong place at the right time. The good thief!! No purgatory for this bad man. We know nothing of his life except that he deserved death under Roman law for stealing. But through Faith alone he is promised heaven that very hour! Would that I could have such faith!
Those are my picks, for what thy are worth in the humorous spirit of the post.
But I’m not convinced that the post has a humorous spirit.
Cecil Adams was asked,
Who was the worst Catholic saint?
This is a difficult question to answer, because the criteria (worst Catholic Saint) is hard to quantify.
Mr. Adams is probably not an informed Catholic, because his criteria is absurd.
He starts off with people who are recognized as Saints who probably never existed (such as St. Christopher). So these are “bad” Saints. But he goes on to acknowledge that such Saints were “canonized” before the Church implemented Her “modern” system of Canonization (which dates to the Thirteenth Century - the Church has a funny definition of “modern”). These older Saints, as Mr. Adams admits, were “grandfathered in,” before the Church required literal accounts and people for Canonization. This is true. But, Our Lord taught in non-literal parables (such as the Prodigal Son), which are enshrined in Sacred Scripture. According to Mr. Adams, we should not accept the TEACHING of these parables unless they relate to factual stories. The ancient Church “taught” with these “saintly parables.” Mr. Adams devotes more than half of his response to this particular topic, with more examples than all other topics combined.
He then moves on to his second category, “Be crazy.” Some Saints are apparently “bad” simply because they are “crazy” (whatever that means). He immediately asks, “Where to start?” as if he has a whole bunch of “crazy” Saints, yet he cites only one, “Saint Christina the Astonishing.” Except that this “Saint” has never been Canonized. THERE IS NO SUCH SAINT. The ONE example he provides is NOT a Canonized Catholic Saint. The question was, “Who was the worst Catholic saint?” Mr. Adams devotes a category (Crazy Saints) which is entirely devoid of actual Saints (crazy or otherwise).
Mr. Adams moves on to his third category, “Be bad prior to having seen the light.” He cites (predictably) St. Augustine (whose “Confessions” is the second-best-selling book of all time, next to the Bible). Mr. Adams has not seen the light, because this doesn’t matter.
He finally moves on to his final category, “Be bad, period.” Once again, he cites no examples of actual Canonized Catholic Saints, so he again completely disregards the parameters of the question. He cites two Popes (neither of whom are Saints) whom he thought should have acted differently than they did. We can debate the actions of these Popes (and we have), but it has nothing to do with the question, “Who was the worst Catholic saint?” because no Saint is included in his examples.
I am am admirer of Cecil Adams and his website, TheStraightDope.com. But, with this article, I wonder if Mr. Adams is under the influence of straight dope. This is an uncharacteristic bunch of uninformed and irrational thinking. I would not have believed that such nonsense could have come from Cecil Adams had the OP not posted the link for me to read (in an astonished manner) for myself.
Sister Magdalena of the Cross -The devil’s saint for 40 years & her escape from an evil pact through extraordinary repentance
It doesn’t seem a well informed article. I can understand distinguishing between people named as Saints where there is evidence of their positive contribution to the Church and those where we have no evidence. By contribution, I am thinking of inspiring others to focus on Jesus, whether it was in their physical time on earth or after they went to Heaven.
My question would be “How can we determine who was the worst Saint or Catholic, if we do not know their soul or are incapable of judging them in the way God judges?” Not all saints are canonized and I hope that through God’s mercy, that I will be a saint but I know that I won’t be canonized, nor would I seek it. If someone wants a worst saint, I offer myself in the future.
The worst Catholic Saint was probably Saul of Tarsus, he killed many of the early Christians.
There are many who were bad before becoming saints.
St. Callixtus: Embezzler & Brawler
St. Hippolytus: Heretic & First Antipope
St. Mary of Egypt: Seductress
St. Moses the Black: Cutthroat & Gang Leader
St. Olga: Vengeful Mass Murderer
St. Vladimir: Fratricide & Polygamist
St. Margaret of Cortona: Rich Man’s Mistress
St. Camillus: Mercenary & Card Shark
**Saints with a Past: **catholiccourses.benedictpress.com/index.php/CC-Saints-with-Past