|St Louis IX w/Crown of Thorns|
It would, however, be absurd to think that politics does not play a part in this either and not simply today when monarchy is the exception rather than the rule and traditional monarchies are frowned upon as being ‘backward’ and ‘authoritarian’. Christian monarchs, unfortunately, have a long history of fighting with other Christian monarchs and this applies to Catholics just as much if not more so than to Protestants. When one considers the monarchs who have been recognized as saints, such as those mentioned above, I direct your attention to who their enemies were. In most cases, their enemies were non-Christians; pagans or Muslims and the opinion of pagans and Muslims tended to hold little weight in the Catholic Church in those days. If, however, the Catholic Church had moved to canonize someone like King Henry VI, a monarch who was once considered saintly by a great many people in England, one could expect the French to protest against this vociferously as Henry VI had not only claimed the French Crown (as many English monarchs did) but was the only one to actually be crowned King of France in Paris. Likewise, being of the House of Lancaster, the notables of the House of York might have opposed it too. For a time, it seemed that the Tudors might have pushed for his canonization but then the break with Rome over the marriage of King Henry VIII brought all of that to a total halt.
|Blessed Innocent XI|
The person who raised this issue also pointed out that out of 46 (or 47 depending on how you count them) Holy Roman (German) Emperors, only one, Emperor Heinrich II, is recognized as a saint. Once again, it would be foolish to think that the long history of rivalry and antagonism between the popes and the German emperors played no part in this being the case. All of the most famous German emperors could expect heavy opposition to any consideration of their piety. Even someone as widely admired as Emperor Otto the Great would likely be opposed given that he was quite strict about the Church in his lands being answerable to him. Emperor Frederick Barbarossa is possibly the most famous of the Medieval German monarchs yet, as far as the Catholic Church is concerned, he was a villain and, to be fair, from the standpoint of the Church, it is just as legitimate that they view him as such as it is for the Germans to view him as a hero for his victories. Even an emperor most Catholic monarchists admire perhaps more than any other, Emperor Charles V, would be an almost impossible case. It would be hard to imagine the Catholic Church canonizing a monarch who waged war against the Pope, regardless of the circumstances.
|Empress Maria Theresa|
Of course, canonizations are much more common among the ranks of the clergy. Not only are they less susceptible to political objections but, even among the hierarchy where the temptations associated with power and prestige are more common, they are also the ones who determine whether a cause goes forward or not which makes things much easier of course. This is not to imply that the system is out or order of course, only that any system consists of human beings and human frailty applies to the clergy as well as the laity. It also cannot be denied that even among the clergy, political opposition can still cause complications. The cause of Saint Josemaria Escriva, for example, was the source of considerable controversy because of his association with the regime of Generalissimo Franco in Spain or the cause of Blessed Aloysius Stepinac who was imprisoned by the communists and martyred after World War II for complicity with the Axis regime of the Independent State of Croatia. This sparked immense opposition and it remains to be seen if his cause will progress further. The cause to canonize Pope Pius XII himself is also very well known for the political opposition it has aroused due to accusations that he was insufficiently zealous in opposing the Nazi and Fascist government all the way to accusations of sympathy and collaboration with them, all of which has aroused considerable debate and acrimony. To date he has reached the status of “venerable”.
|King Baudouin of the Belgians|
There is also the fact that, sadly, for a great many people Catholic monarchies in particular are seen as a source of division rather than unity, nothing but an open door to trouble that is best avoided. In Spain, France and the former Italian states (basically an all Bourbon problem) there continues to be intense internal dynastic disputes which are unrelenting and which the Church, as with most others, would certainly wish to avoid getting in the middle of. The left is content to let the feuding monarchists focus on fighting each other and the right would prefer not to get caught in the crossfire and look for other, non-royal alternatives. Even if there was a worthy candidate, the Church would have to show considerable courage to canonize someone in such a position, given the intense opposition it would immediately attract from the opposing faction of the various Bourbon family branches.
|Blessed Maria Cristina di Savoia|
|Blessed Charles of Austria|
Clearly, there are obstacles and plenty of difficulties but hope remains and there are plenty of causes worth pursuing. Certainly, nothing will happen if no one at least tries.