Vol. 2, Issue 23, June 8, 2004
Movement to Canonize Reagan Stalled by Fact that He Wasn't Catholic
A nationwide movement which has quickly taken shape since the death of former president Ronald Reagan met unexpected opposition today when the Catholic church noted that it is not in the habit of making saints out of protestants.
"Beatification and canonization are very special acknowledgments reserved for faithful members of the Church, and then only after years of investigation," said Archbishop Gerald Benidetto. "While we appreciate the outpouring of affection that the late Mr. Reagan has received, we respectfully observe that canonization is more than a popularity contest."
Ronald Reagan has been widely credited with turning the Republican party into the powerhouse it is today and with bringing the Cold War to a successful end. For many, he is a virtually legendary figure, one whose homespun anecdotes and cheery disposition belied his achievements.
"The fact that Reagan routinely conflated his own accomplishments and experiences with those of characters he played in movies has actually contributed to his legendary status," said Dennis Pryce, dean of religious studies at the University of Southern California. "He was literally rewriting and augmenting his career while he was still in office. Usually people have to wait until they're dead for that to happen."
Remarkable though his career may be, however, he was not Catholic, which nowadays is a "non-negotiable" condition for being considered for sainthood.
"That's an outrage," said Myrna Costello, president of the Saint Reagan Society. "Since when did the Pope get a monopoly on making saints? And I'm not talking about those knock-off "latter-day saints" they've got out in Utah. Ronald Reagan was the real deal, and he deserves a goddamn halo."
Reagan was in fact a member of the protestant sect Disciples of Christ, also known as the "Christian Church," which has about 1,300,000 adherents. It is of nineteenth century American origin, and grew on the American frontier. Presidents Garfield and Lyndon Johnson were also affiliated with the Disciples of Christ. The sect emphasizes common sense "secular laity" and does not enforce a strict set of scriptural interpretations or heirarchy upon its followers. Consequently, there is no provision within this church for formally declaring one of its members a saint.
In fact, the title "saint" has long been a registered trademark of the Catholic Church and must be licensed for use by others.
"Well let me tell you, we pay a pretty penny in fees to use our name," said Judy Harmon, executive vice president for the New Orleans Saints football team. "And I hear the Mormons have to fork over even more. They tried to argue that "latter-day saint" is a different term and should be exempt, but the Supreme Court sided with the Pope."
Undeterred by the archbishop's refusal, the Saint Reagan Society is actively pushing to have Reagan canonized by 2005.
"Well, there needs to be a miracle first," said Pryce. "Although actually, I heard some members of the Senate describing Reagan as an "intellectual" this week. Surely that should count."