According to a new book- The Other Christ: Padre Pio and 19th Century Italy, by historian Sergio Luzzatto- the “most popular Saint” in Italy, and one of the most popular in the world, might have faked his famous piety. (reference: The Telegraph- UK)
Padre Pio. (The man was bleeding as he served the Host!)
Throughout his life as a priest, beginning in 1911, Padre Pio exhibited stigmata, simulations of the wounds suffered by Jesus on his hands and feet. He died in 1968 and was elevated to the status Saint in 2002 by Pope John Paul II, who is now on his own fast track to Beatification.
Some stigmata are visible– wounds on the hands, feet, back, or rib area that can be seen and cause real suffering in those who manifest them, however they are manifested. Others have invisible stigmata; they suffer for no outward and visible reason(My reaction to the invisible kind: How convenient..!)
Visible Stigmata Invisible Stigmata
It seems that documents have been discovered that were collected from a pharmacist acquaintance of the visibly stigmatisized Padre. Maria Di Vito, an admitted admirer of Pio, claimed that in 1919 she spent a month with him in San Giovanni Rotondo, where he asked her to secretly have a bottle of pure carbolic acid refilled. “For disinfecting syringes,” don’t you know.
This evidence, the caliber of which has thwarted less popular nominees on the road to Sainthood, was apparently dismissed by the Holy See (We saw nothing..), since the very popular Pio’s election was successful.
Pietro Siffi, the president of the Catholic Anti-Defamation League, said: “We would like to remind Mr Luzzatto that according to Catholic doctrine, canonisation carries with it papal infallibility. We would like to suggest to Mr Luzzatto that he dedicates his energies to studying religion properly.” Thus, doctrinally speaking, “if a Pope says it, I believe it, and that’s that!” Proper religious study, apparently for Signor Siffi, means the unquestioning regurgitation of what already is- supposedly- known.
My argument here is not with Padre Pio- I know nothing about him, other than the fact that his stigmata, along with those of every other stigmati, appear in the wrong place, since Roman nails were almost certainly driven through the wrists, not the hands themselves. My argument is with the blind obedience to religious thought, which always emanates through some human with a political agenda in the guise of holiness. And humans, as most of us can attest from personal experience, screw up. Our human screw-ups, our motivations,even our outright, however well-intended lies should be able to be studied when they have historical import.
And my argument certainly is not with Catholicism, at least not in the sense that Siffi would be accusing author Luzzato of. My argument is with anyone who uses trickery to fool the masses in the perpetuation of THEIR take on Jesus, THEIR “truths” about God, and THEIR authority. If Padre Pio was shown to be a fake on the order of the very non-Catholic Peter Popoff, so be it! Why should any believer have their faith in God threatened by the exposed fakery of someone who skillfully and manipulatively uses God-language for their own ends? Take a look below at Popoff exposed by the Amazing Randi.
Siffi’s argument is the type of argument (or non-argument) engaged in (or not engaged in) by the new (unbelievable!) followers of Popoff, all the adherents of the fraud Benny Hinn, and those who believe Pat Robertson has special ‘words of knowledge’ just for them. It is the kind of specious argument which causes a multi-million dollar waste of money called The Creation Museum to be built in Kentucky, in the perpetuation of human doctrine over God’s truths. It is the kind of argument that causes factions to dig in their heels, even pick up weapons, in the defense of what some pope/preacher/imam or other ‘holy’ personage says is just so.
Anyone who must look at a man, in order to see God, is looking the wrong way. And I see no threat to God at all in telling them that.