Relic tour of St. John Paul II across US draws flak from Protestant pastor

(Photo: REUTERS / Caren Firouz)Members of the Lebanese Christian Maronite community carry a statue and a sample of the blood of Saint John Paul II to Saint George Cathedral in downtown Beirut May 16, 2014.

A relic from St. John Paul II is touring the United States that Saturday and Sunday was stopping off in New York giving the faithful the chance to venerate the new saint.

The tour began in Boston, the first American city where Pope John Paul II said mass.

The tour has drawn some criticism over the biblical basis for veneration. One of critic is Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries in Plano, Texas who believes it is a pagan practice.

The tour includes the July 12-13 visit to New York City's St. Patrick's Cathedral and a July 19-20 visit to Philadelphia's Cathedral-Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul. The tour will end in Baltimore.

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"St. John Paul spent more time in the United States than any other pope before or since, shaping an entire generation of Catholics here and throughout the world," Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus told the National Catholic Register.

John Paul II died away in 2005, aged 84. A number of U.S. presidents attended his funeral, including George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

The Knights of Columbus regularly host a glass vial at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C.

The relic is a small glass vessel containing the John Paul's blood at its center. Surrounding the vial are 12 red stones which represent Jesus' 12 apostles.

CANONIZATION

During Pope John Paul's canonization, Pope Francis presented the vial of John Paul II's blood and kissed its container as an act of veneration.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston said on June 17,"We pray that those who come will be inspired to carry out great works of mercy through evangelization, as the Holy Father exemplified during his years as pope and priest."

Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries Gendron told Christian News Network that veneration is rooted in paganism.

"The Catholic Church is known for some bizarre practices, but sending a vial of blood from a dead pope on a tour is one of its strangest," he said.

He said touring a vial of blood from a dead person reflects how Catholics practice worship of the dead.

He considers this as pagan necromancy, a practice clearly forbidden in the Bible. Citing the Bible he said "Anyone in the Old Testament who came in contact with a dead person or a grave was considered unclean and could not take part in worship (Numbers 19:16; Leviticus 21:1).

"According to the Word of God, the consultation of the dead are prohibited in Scripture (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)."

Relics are considered holy by the Catholic Church. They come in three classes. First class is from the body of a saint, second class is something used by the saint, and the third class is something touched by the first class relic.

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