The English word “saint” is derived from a Latin word “sanctus” – meaning “holy”.
Thus, when we refer to the “saints”, we are speaking of the “holy ones”. In turn, to be “holy” means to be “set apart” for the glory and the purposes of God.
Within the New Testament (written in Greek, not Latin), the word which gets to be translated as “saint” is the Greek word “hagios”, and it is practically synonymous with our English word “christian”.
In other words, a biblical term for “christian” is the word “saint”. The “saints” (i.e. the christians) are those who have been “set apart” by the death and resurrection of Jesus, through baptism in water and in the holy spirit, to be the agents of God’s saving power in the world.
Those of us who are on the reformed, or protestant wing of Christianity insist that the “saints” are all the people of God.
We therefore resist the roman catholic system (called canonization) by which the Pope can declare that certain persons are “saints”.
We resist it for two reasons.
FIRST we believe that God alone has the prerogative to determine who are the “saints”, i.e. those humans who are called by God to work with her/him for the healing of the world.
SECOND the roman catholic system asserts a dangerous distinction between christians - that is between those who have “made it” (the roman catholic saints) and those who may or may not “make it” (all the other baptized christians).
That false distinction is far from the wisdom of Jesus, who teaches that we are called to be “brothers and sisters”, or to be “friends”.
Please do two things when you next hear that the Roman Pope is “canonizing” this or that person:
1. Be sad for the hubris of the Roman Church.
2. Sigh, or giggle at the preposterous notion that the “bishop of Rome” is able to make any saints.