I suppose anyone who's interested has heard that the cause for G.K. Chesterton's canonization has been shut down, at least for now. Here's a brief notice about it in the Catholic Herald UK. Sounds somewhat disgruntled, or at any rate gives significant space to a disgruntled voice.
I must say that I'm more in agreement than otherwise with this decision. I count myself as an admirer of the man and his work, but with a good many reservations. Like a lot of people I was wildly enthusiastic about his writing when I first encountered it, but I soon, or fairly soon, developed a more mixed opinion. At his best, he's great, astonishingly wise and perceptive. "Astonishing" is really not an exaggeration of the initial effect on me of some of his writings, that gift he has of pointing out things both obvious and unnoticed.
For me he's at his best in his essays. I often find his style tiresome at greater length, and don't care much for the fiction, except maybe for the Father Brown stories. And he wrote so very much that it sometimes seems that he is on a sort of GKC auto-pilot, maintaining the style but not so much of the substance.
But even if his writing were uniformly brilliant it would not justify calling him a saint. That hardly needs to be pointed out. I admit that I don't know all that much about his personal life, but though he seems to have been a good man I've never seen evidence of heroic virtue.
Be that as it may, there's another reason why it's best that this effort not be pursued, and that's the fact that he can be fairly accused of anti-Semitism.
I say "fairly accused." I've heard the argument made both for and against him on this point. But it does seem to be justified to at least some extent. The most generous thing you can say about some of his views in that line is that they are bizarre and rather creepy. I'm thinking in particular of that passage--I have no idea where to find it--in which he advocates some sort of special dress for English Jews, something by which they could always be identified.
That was pre-Holocaust and it wouldn't have had the same resonance at the time that it does post-Holocaust. And I don't for a moment think he would have had anything but hatred for the Nazi program of extermination. I think he's on record as being anti-Hitler. Nevertheless, that one notion makes the idea of canonizing him here and now a bad one. The Church has had, over the centuries and in some circles still, enough of a problem with anti-Semitism, and is enough of a pariah in the eyes of much of our civilization, that we don't need to do something unnecessary to make that situation worse. I think the British football term for that is "own goal." Nor do we need to suggest to actual anti-Semites within the Church that their animosity is acceptable.
His importance as writer and thinker won't be any the the worse for his absence from the official list of saints. I think the whole process is being misused these days, actually, with popes being canonized, it seems, in almost a pro-forma way. "All have won, and all must have medals" seems like a bad approach.