Cause for John Paul II moves forward a step

From the intrepid Andrea Tornielli:

 

Yesterday morning there was help at the Congregation for Causes of Saints the second meeting of the theological consutors tasked to examine the "Positio", that is the documents and testimonies of the cause for beatification of John Paul II.  In the first meeting, about which Il Giornale has spoken, was held on 13 May.  But it had an intermediate (or interlocutory… "interlocutorio") outcome, because of critical point raised not about the personal sanctity of Pope Wojtyla but about the manner in which the work was advanced and the lack of documentation.  The postulator of the cause, Msgr. Slawomir Oder, responded in writing to the objections and yesterday there was held the second and final meeting of the theologians, which had given a favorable majority opinion.  Two of them maintained the initial "suspended judgement" ("sospensivo") because they though that the proofs and documents ought to have been integrate ("il quadro probatorio e documentale debba essere integrato").  This is the article that was published in today’s Il Giornale.  Now the "Positio" goes to the cardinal and bishop members of the Congregation, who before the end of the year will make a decision about the heroic virtue of Pope Wojtyla.  Then it will fall to Pope Benedict to promulgate the decree which will bring his predecessor to beatification.

 

The Congregation takes the documentation and how it is presented very very seriously.

Each cause is handled like a court case.  The proofs (documents, testimonies, etc.) must be precisely organized to support the claim, make the case, that the servant of God live a life of heroic virtue, or that a miracle was granted by God, within moral certitude.

 

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94 Responses to Cause for John Paul II moves forward a step

  1. Paul says:

    Maybe its just me, but I feel hesitant over this. I can’t help feeling that perhaps this push is in someway connected to his media popularity.

    I’m not saying he wasn’t a holy man, but I think that his cause should wait awhile – like many saints.

    paul

  2. You’re not the only one who feels that way, I do as well…But if God wills Pope John Paul II be canonized, may it be so…but I’d like to see things slow down a bit too.

  3. Rellis says:

    Agreed with the panel thus far–let’s wait a bit. After the media adulation has moved on, “JP the Great” might just be “JP the pretty good.” After all, he did little to advance liturgical reform beyond merely tolerating the TLM.

  4. Alex says:

    There isn’t much room to argue that Pope John Paul II was a very saintly man. Remember, His Holiness merely dispensed of the waiting period to start the process for his cannonization. The Good Lord will permit its conculsion when He wills it. In regards to the TLM, Pope John Paul did more than tolerate it, it was through him Ecclesia Dei came about, the FSSP, and also there were “bigger fish” to fry in dealing with the N.O. Mass.

  5. Mark Twain wrote: There are two things the American people should never be allowed to see-how sausages are made and how a bill becomes law. The same applies to canonization processes. Assisi I(which even Cdl. Ratzinger refused to attend)?, Assisi II? His deep friendship for Fr. Maciel Macial who died in disgrace as a abuser of seminarians and father of an out of wedlock child???
    St. Thomas More spent a year in the Tower suffering because he refused to accept the monarch as the head of the Catholic Church in England. He was beheaded in 1535. He was canonized in 1935!!! Look at the state of the Church in 2005 when JP II died and look at it today. He was Pope for 25 years, for crying out loud.

  6. This is great news. I seek his intercession frequently already, and I look forward with great joy the day the Church recognizes him as Saint. What a blessing to the Church and to the world!

  7. Cosmos says:

    I find the man somewhat enigmatic.

    There is no doubt that he was a man of the deepest and most profound prayer. There is also no doubt that he lived in heroic conformity with the truth as he saw it. But (as mentioned above) the Koran episode, the Assisi gatherings, the seeming inability to see the blatant perversion that was infecting the seminaries, the profaning of the liturgy. It is simply undeniable that the church, under the leadership of Paul VI, JPI, and JPII went through a radical transformation into something so different that much of the tradition is actually offensive to even good Catholics today. I can’t help but feel that any judgment on his leadership from our current perspective would be distorted. We do not yet have the proper distance or perspective.

  8. If he qualifies he qualifies. Surely the requisite miracles can’t be attributed to media pressure and there will have to be one miracle for beatification and another, performed after beatification, for Canonization.

    Whether he gets the title “the great” is another matter. It seems to me that history makes that determination.

  9. Geoffrey says:

    Santo subito!

  10. Cosmos, is it his leadership as Pope that God will look at, or his holiness and virtue? When miracles are verified to be received through his intercession, and despite any human flaws in his leadership he is found to have been a man of heroic virtue, why wouldn’t the Church recognize what God seems to be telling us, that this man is indeed in heaven, and that we may rely on his intercession?

  11. Clinton says:

    I agree with Alex — creating the FSSP, Ecclesia Dei, and dealing with the more egregious excesses of the 70’s were substantial assists
    for the cause of the TLM. I would also mention his creation of the indult whereby a bishop could permit the celebration of the TLM
    in his diocese. And let us not forget the most important gift the pontificate of John Paul II gave to the Traditional Latin Mass: he brought
    in a certain Bavarian prelate and made him head of the CDF, kept him close, listened to him often, and positioned him to be the most
    logical choice as successor in the next conclave.

    Of course John Paul II gave us the Catechism, Veritatis Splendor, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, was the first Pope to visit a synagogue, began the
    World Youth Days, reversed the death-spiral of priestly vocations, met with and forgave the man who tried to kill him, and was the
    man without whom Gorbachev said the bloodless collapse of communism would have been impossible. He appointed many of the
    bishops that are heroes of the Church today. He laid the foundation for the successes of the present pontificate. He was fearless
    in speaking out against the culture of death. Those who hate the Church paid him the compliment of hating him for all he did.
    It would be a mistake to suggest that he merely sat on his hands for 25 years.
    It’s interesting that while there are fewer vocations to the priesthood these days, there seem to be no shortage of vocations for
    the papacy. Most often the armchair pontiffs complain that were they’d be doing things differently, and usually they’d be doing a lot
    more smiting and excommunicating. IMHO, that sort of talk, while understandable given the presence of the Kmiecs and the Shanleys
    and the Rosemary R Reuthers in the Church, is not helpful. Rather. given the world’s hostility and the limited manpower, finances and
    time available to an elderly Pope who must guide an organization of over a billion people I’m astonished so much is done!

    In the end, we know, canonization is not an endorsement of the acts of a pontificate. Sanctity and heroic virtue are what is required. St. Celestine V, whose reign is universally acknowledged to have been a trainwreck, was canonized because of his holiness, not his CV. As it should be.

    From the looks of the item quoted by Fr. Z., the cause is in good hands. ” Festina Lente” – make haste slowly.

  12. Phil (NL) says:

    mr. Mallman hits the nail on the head; two things are important here:
    – It’s in God’s hands, not ours.
    – Good management skills shown while leading the church are not a prerequisite. Though I daresay that JP II did well in that regard too, taken as a whole. Also, it’s always very difficult to second-guess a pope – most of the time we’d have no clue about more than half what’s going on. Did he make mistakes? Undoubtedly. Did they reflect on his sanctity? I can’t think of one.

    I hope to live to see the day it will indeed be ‘St. John Paul II, the Great’.

  13. Phil (NL) says:

    it should be ‘Mr. Hallman’, of course. Apologies for the typo.

  14. Sal says:

    I really wish they’d slow this thing down. Fr. Solanus
    Casey’s cause can’t get off the dime and yet they
    want John Paul II beatified in time for the 5th
    anniversary of his death.

    And by the way, both John Paul’s interior life [Bye!] AND
    his acts as Pope are grist for the mill.

  15. I wonder how many of those who are so quick to voice their opposition to the canonization process would have dealt with their own preferences had they lived during the time of that Pope. Reading the addresses of Pius XII for example shows me that what Pope John Paul II had been saying was very similar indeed.

    I also wonder on what basis they make their attack. Is it because they have made a study of what was done and said by the late Pope? Or was it because the Pope failed to be a traditionalist and dared to excommunicate Lefebvre and the other four?

    The comments made tend to lead me to believe the truth is closer to the second option.

    I have not forgotten the traditionalists, prior to 7/7/07 often vilified the current Pope and accused him of being liberal/modernist, and I am struck by the thought that there is quite a difference between following the teaching of the Church and demanding the Church follow what I think it should be.

    How many of you detractors have considered the possibility that the error is yours? That your accusations have no basis when what Pope John Paul II had said and done are studied in context?

  16. Steve says:

    Clinton – you speak as though the World Youth Days were (are) an good thing for the Faith !! What a novel concept !

  17. Doyle Caudle says:

    Scott,

    All you say is, in my opinion, ridiculous which is your right, but your last sentence is disgusting and I hope Fr. Z deletes it.

    Dcc

  18. Clinton,

    Very, very well said.

    I think there are more than a few folks here who should cast down their papal tiaras for a bit.

    Cheers!

  19. Scott, The last time I checked, serious slander was STILL a mortal sin, whether done virtually, in print or face to face.

    Confessions are usually 4:00 pm on Saturdays. As a Catholic deacon, I recommend you be there.

  20. Scott says:

    Ok Im sorry for what I wrote [Too late. You are gone.]
    However Fr Deacon Daniel. accusing me of committing a mortal sin is not for you to judge. For all you know the 3 conditions may not have been meet.
    Instead of wasting time trawling through comments perhaps you ought to be out saving souls [The sort of cheap shot consistent with your earlier nastiness. Good riddance.]

  21. “Instead of wasting time trawling through comments perhaps you ought to be out saving souls.”

    The deacon’s ministry includes exhorting the lay faithful to holiness and to apostolic labor, which sometimes involves correcting them when they fail.

    I’m well aware of the three conditions, as clearly are you. Whatever the subjective state of your soul at the moment you wrote those terrible slanderous things against Pope John Paul II of blessed memory, they were nonetheless objectively serious matter.

    And since you have an obvious need to lecture and judge those in authority in the Church, you might also consider examining your conscience in the matter of pride. [He won’t be joining us, unless he slithers back through another address. So… DNFTT]

    Again, usually 4:00 pm on Saturdays.

  22. Mitchell NY says:

    Seems full steam ahead but I think there should be a generational gap before deciding in order to fully absorb the effects of his Papacy and allow an unbiased view..Time seems to provide better clarity…I mean they still have not gone forward with Pope Pius XII…What kind of message would it be to canonize Pope JP II and keep stalling on Pius XII?

  23. @Mitchell NY

    I think this is a bit of a red herring. That one case is better documented than another can make a difference of time. That some accusations take more work to clear up or the documentation of a miracle take more work do document does not mean one candidate is “holier” because his or her case went through faster. Nor does it mean his case was “rushed through.”

    If Pope Pius XII’s case takes longer (a case I support btw), then so be it. It is the truth to be sought, not popularity. If one case takes longer to discern, it takes longer to discern. That’s all

  24. Maureen says:

    Re: leadership

    Pope St. Celestine V proves that heroic virtue is a saintly quality, but effective leadership is not always given as one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. :)

    Also, it’s ridiculous to put the blame on the Pope for every stupid thing that happened at Assisi. I’ve been on the operating committee for relatively small conventions, and trust me, the primary guests (like the Pope) and the convention head are often totally unaware of the more egregious things going on. The first they usually know of it is either a complaint long
    afterward, or a gofer calling in to report, often not even knowing it’s something wrong but just mentioning it. Suddenly you look up at the cry next to you of a frantic conrunner asking, “They’re doing what?! Where?! But why!?!”

    Of course, you can also find out from the police, which is messier, but at least tends to mean fewer shrugs from the guilty parties. I’ve never seen that, but I’ve heard stories.

    So imagine not just herding the normal sort of cats, but a bunch of clergy and religious who aren’t even all Catholic or Christian. The only way to manage that would be large numbers of incredibly well-trained and confident gofers and security, all of whom would have to have eyes everywhere and no shame about poking around to make sure all goes well and nothing stupid is done. We don’t have a fanatical corps of scary-orthodox German nuns or anything, so I’m sure that was the problem. Guests _will_ act like idiots unless you tell them exactly what to do.

    Experienced guests know that these things drain strength from them, so they tend to do only what they’re told to do by the MCs, etc. If the MCs have bad ideas (like the Koran-kissing), the guests usually don’t realize till afterward that they’d have done better not to trust the MC in this one case. But generally, people going to conventions can tell that it’s a info from the convention problem and not the guest’s fault — whereas a lot of people in the traditional Catholic world blame JPII for everything.

    As for Cardinal Ratzinger not attending — well, yeah, that was the boring but prudent thing to do when you don’t trust a convention to be run well. JPII wasn’t given to be boringly prudent, and that’s not a failure of virtue but rather a personality thing. Often JPII made crazy things work, so he was inclined to gamble a bit more; it isn’t something B17 really does. B17 is the longrange planner, who makes impossible things possible by doggedness and moving a little, little forward at just the right moments.

    JPII won souls that B17 couldn’t touch, and vice versa. If you asked them, they’d both agree.

  25. Scott says:

    Deacon Daniel,
    Look at the state the Church was when he left. Of all the Popes that have become saints they have never left the Church in the state it was when he left.
    Just look at some of the Bishops that he appointed.
    Look at the cringing World Youth Day
    Look at the kissing of the Koran
    Look at the Homosexual infiltration that reached its epoch [?] during his pontificate.
    Rather than praying to Pope John Paul the second , I would recommend that people pray for his soul. Thats what I did when I visited his tomb. As a Catholic he did things that I certainly wouldnt imitate. Thats what a Saint is for the laity, a Catholic to imitate

  26. mpm says:

    Anche, Santo subito!

  27. mpm says:

    Think about it. Jesus Christ Himself was not so visibly “successful”, was He?
    Was it because He ate and drank with sinners?

  28. Jack says:

    mpm

    I’m sorry mpm but I have to second scott, when Jp2 left this life for the next the church was in a terriable state, MAYBE if he’d spent a little less time travelling around the world and more time in the office then things would’ve been different. To expand on what Scott said, its not just what he did, its what he didn’t do; if JP2 had been as tolerant of a certain priestly fraternity as he was of modernists then Pope Benedict wouldn’t have to suffer the grilling he did from the world’s media in Jannuaryu, also come to think of it didn’t everything GOOD from John Paul’s reign (such as Dominus Isus and Ordinatio Sacerdotali) come out of a certain office in the CDF?

  29. Heather says:

    Too many scandals need to be swept under the rug in order to make JPII a saint. Marcinkus cover-up, total failure to discipline heretical bishops and those who cover-up/participated in the sex abuse crisis, and now the relationship with Mrs. Wanda Poltawska. All that, and the *scandal* of his statements and actions at Assisi. Saint? *No way.*

  30. mpm says:

    “Look at the Homosexual infiltration that reached its epoch during his
    pontificate.”

    Let’s put this one to rest. I know for an absolute FACT, from men who were
    seminarians there at the time, that in one very important inter-diocesan
    seminary in the 1940s and 1950s, two of the highest ranking “officers” at the
    seminary were not only homosexuals, but would post in the hallway of the
    seminarians a schedule list, where those interested in assignations could do
    so.

    Neither of the men I know of participated, one didn’t even know what was going
    on until the other, by then a bishop, told him about it over dinner one night.
    The non-bishop priest was shocked to hear of it, and he didn’t shock easily.

    Pope John Paul II inherited a mess of major proportions, and was it not he who insisted that a somewhat reluctant Joseph Ratzinger give him a hand?

  31. Scott says:

    If there was a way I could delete that first comment I would. It was made way to hasty, Though the sediments behind it remain. [Too late. …. “sediments”? About right.]
    I am sorry for having offended anyone for that comment. [Gone.]

  32. Cosmos says:

    It sounds like we are saying that one half of the canonization process is almost redundant: the Church need not waste time collecting testimony and other evidence of the man’s life; if there is an approved miracle associated with his intercession, that means God declares him a Saint. Why wait?” This is dangerous. The Church waited decades and even centuries to canonize saints precisely because it is a human undertaking.

    And I have no connection or loyalty whatsoever to Lefebvre, but it is strange how we are constantly told about the “good points” of Luther by the likes of Peter Kreeft, Fr. Neuhaus, and even recent Popes, yet considering legitimate criticisms from Lefebvre is somehow suspect.

    And nothing more perfectly sums up the lack of prudence in undertaking ecumenical endeavors like Assissi than the quote above about herding cats (see below). Moreover, everyone seems to be overlooking the possibility that our “success” with ecumenicism is not a result of some great spiritual awakening but result of people not caring as much about their own religion, and what makes it distinct. This is also captured in the quote below. Paraphrasing what the Pope said in a different context, why is dialog, praying, and informal communion with other religions “presented as a sort of ‘courage’, whereas in fact not much courage is needed because one can be certain of receiving public praise.” It seems to me to be related to the modern obsession with multi-culturalism- an outgrowth of relativism.

    I also find the “Again, usually 4:00 pm on Saturdays,” line ironic. The extremely limited times for confession is yet another trait of many modern parishes. Though I certainly agree that the bad-mouthing of the late Pope is inexcusable- mortal sin or not!

  33. Scott,

    Let’s look at each of your points:

    “Look at the state the Church was when he left. Of all the Popes that have become saints they have never left the Church in the state it was when he left.”

    Actually considering the state of the Catholic Church he inherited and the sheer momentum towards implosion that came during the pontificate of Pope Paul VI, I’d say he slowly but surely helped to reverse that momentum and, with the ship’s course being largely corrected, Pope Benedict is just the man to continue the course correction and gun the engines.

    “Just look at some of the Bishops that he appointed.”

    No pope has a perfect record in this regard.

    “Look at the cringing World Youth Day”

    Which part…the millions of Catholic Youth who came and left inspired to be apostles and evengelists? How about the multitude of converts? How about the fundamental reorientation of at least two generations to union with Jesus christ and a greater unity with the See of St. Peter?

    Yes, I know about some of the ridiculousness that surrounds the organization of such events. But even smaller scale ones like the National Catholic Youth Conference where one year a friend of mine came back and said “The name of Jesus CHrist was not mentioned ONE TIME in that conference.” Such a thing could never be said of Pope John Paul II and his WYD’s.

    “Look at the kissing of the Koran”

    I would rather that he have kissed a Muslim or two in fraternal greeting. I agree that this was excessive.

    “Look at the Homosexual infiltration that reached its epoch during his pontificate.”

    A social and cultural phenomenon that was difficult, if not impossible to contain in every respect. I think the Church finally is getting a better footing in this regard, but I agree, it took too long. And the cultural momentum continues as it winds its way into the legal systems of various nations.

    “Rather than praying to Pope John Paul the second , I would recommend that people pray for his soul. Thats what I did when I visited his tomb. As a Catholic he did things that I certainly wouldnt imitate. Thats what a Saint is for the laity, a Catholic to imitate.”

    We are exhorted to pray for the souls of all the departed, which would include, presumably, even the holy ones glorified on our altars.

    Two brief points:

    1. As Clinton said so well, it is about personal holiness, not a CV. Not that what one did or did not do does not matter. I trust the process of discernment of both the faithful and the Church authorities in this regard. As far as I’m concerned, personally I think he was a saint and, while there are no contemporary canons for canonization by acclamation, it is clear that such an acclamation did occur after his passing. The Holy Spirit often speaks with one voice through the masses, despite the small number who take exception. Apart from the Mother of God, no saint was without sin or faults or failures. What we imitate are their virtues (since it is in this regard that they are icons of Christ), which includes their contrition and repentance for sins and failures. I’m told that St. Peter even fell once or twice…or three times..

    2. The Pope is not a CEO or a monarch. He is the first bishop among his brother bishops exhorted as bishop of the Apostolic See to uphold them in their ministry and to strengthen them when they are weak. As successor to St. Peter and head of the college of bishops he holds the “Keys” of authority, and some popes wear those keys in a lighter manner than others. Some would rather win hearts and minds through preaching Christ faithfully, than by handing down orders from Rome, as if every bishop was his delegate.

    Pope Benedict has his own magnanimous way of bearing the keys that is in keeping with his personality, training, experience, charism and situation. Pope John Paul II did as well. Whatever failings may have occured over his long pontificate, I believe that he is still a saint of the Church, and plan to build a shrine to his honor in my parish.

    God bless,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  34. I know most readers here are aware of this, but I think it deserves reiteration: one of the difficulties JPII’s Vatican had with the American sex scandals was that the Nazis and Communists had historically used accusations of homosexuality as a way of discrediting the Church and the priesthood. JPII’s early reaction to the scandal must be seen in this context.

    We all tend to react to news in a way consistent with our cultural upbringing and surroundings, and in this case it would hardly have been unusual for JPII to hear and consider these first reports in the context of his experience behind the Iron Curtain. As a man sensitive to the ways in which Communism operated, he would be quite likely, in fact, to regard such accusations as a Communist ploy.

    Now, is this the same way that an American, or someone more familiar with American culture, would have looked at the burgeoning scandal? Perhaps, even probably, not. But again, we must consider the environment in which these accusations came out, and the mindset of those who assimilated the information. After all, Americans familiar with the licentious culture pervading this country might have been more suspicious of the accusations when they first arose, and yet even in this country many Catholics initially saw them as part of a media campaign against the Church.

    Sadly, this turned out not to be the case, and upon reflection we can see many times and places in which action should have been taken and wasn’t. But hindsight almost always provides vision that is much clearer than it was at the time.

    Should the Church, and JPII, have done more and more quickly? Probably. But to remove this from the Eastern European cultural component that made up such a part of JPII’s thinking is unfair and inaccurate. It’s very easy now to ask “why didn’t he do more?” Instead of flailing about with such accusations, however, it would be far more profitable, as well as fair, to view it within its historical and cultural context. The job of the historian should be to attempt an explanation not only of what happened, but why. As I said at the beginning, I’m sure most of us here are aware of all this, but in the heat of the moment it’s not a bad idea to be reminded of it.

  35. James Isabella says:

    Several commentators have said, in opposition to JPII:

    “But look at the state the Church when he left.”

    I’ll reply: “Compare it to how he received it in 1979.”

    Frankly, many of you have very short memories. The late seventies / early eighties were the LOW point after VII. If you don’t remember those times (and actually I don’t remember much myself…I was only 9 when he was elected) or need reminding, read Raymond Arroyo’s book on Mother Angelica to get a good feel of the aftermath of Vat II on the church in the U.S. – and it was worse in Europe.

    That JPII was able to get the church to where we were when Benedict was elected without a major schism, was a major achievement, I think.

    Remember, even today with more tradition minded Bishops (believe it or not), Benedict has to tread lightly…consider what JPII had to go through to get his reforms through in the 1980’s.

    Frankly, Benedict XVI wouldn’t have been possible without JPII.

  36. Cosmos says:

    No doubt the Pope inherited a crazy Church, and I agree he had heroic qualities. I also agree that lots of things got better under his reign and he opened the door for Benedict. But the fact is you can’t easily untangle his affect on things in either direction. The argument “imagine how bad things would have been without him” is just what it claims to be, an act of imagination. There are facts that go the other direction as well.

    Why can’t people think that he was a somewhat confusing teacher (poet/phenomenologist) whose writings are somewhat despite his great and obvious charisma. Why can’t we think that despite his great works against communism that he too was caught up in the “revolutionary” spirit of the mid 20th century (just as we must contextualize his response to the sexual abuse allegations historically) and drew too sharp and arbitrary of a line between “T”radition and “t”radition. Why can’t we think that his “light-handed” approach confused millions are and allowed feminism, modernism, and progressivism too much of a foothold in the Church.

    I think he was a very Holy with an incredibly strong personality and a mixed legacy. I don’t want to see his every action deemed “Catholic” by popular fiat.

    Furthermore, I don’t think this statement of Papal authority is accurate (below). The Pope is, in deed, the head hancho. The “Some would rather win hearts and minds through preaching Christ faithfully, than by handing down orders from Rome, as if every bishop was his delegate” is insulting of the intelligence of those who disagree with you and just assumes your premise. Everyone agrees that a “soft-handed” approach is not always the most faithful approach– sometimes it is shirking one’s duty.

    “2. The Pope is not a CEO or a monarch. He is the first bishop among his brother bishops exhorted as bishop of the Apostolic See to uphold them in their ministry and to strengthen them when they are weak. As successor to St. Peter and head of the college of bishops he holds the “Keys” of authority, and some popes wear those keys in a lighter manner than others. Some would rather win hearts and minds through preaching Christ faithfully, than by handing down orders from Rome, as if every bishop was his delegate.”

  37. Tom says:

    While the late Pope may in fact be in heaven (for which I hope and pray); elevation to the altar is a serious matter in the case of a pope, since not only his personal holiness is at issue, but his rule as Supreme Pontiff.

    Without entering into polemics about his pontificate, is it too radical to suggest that the passage of time and the sorting out of events could only help clarify whether JPII’s pontificate is one that should be held up as an example?

    Also, generally, not just concerning JPII’s process, the abolition of the advocatus diaboli in the canonization process was a big mistake. It is not really an adversarial, court-like process at all without a contrary voice to keep the the tide of enthusiasm in check with opposing facts and arguments.

  38. Ohio Annie says:

    I think the canonization process will be determined by the miracles and not by the wishes of the people.

    And he didn’t kiss a Koran because it was a Koran, he kissed a gift that was handed to him in the polite Polish manner. If I had handed him a box of chocolates he would have kissed it too (before eating them, I hear he had quite a sweet tooth).

    John Paul II is my model of redemptive suffering. As my health deteriorates I consider his life, how the formerly very athletic man must have reminisced about the kayaking and hiking. As I will some day too.

  39. Ohio Annie says:

    Mitchell, you are right the night of the long knives was about purging homosexuals. Or using homosexuality as an excuse for a purge.

    Reading the biography of JPII was very helpful for my understanding of him. I have no idea what I would have done, if I could have survived being in Europe during that period. I probably wouldn’t have been able to stay under the Nazi radar either. Thank God the Ratzinger family survived too.

  40. “Furthermore, I don’t think this statement of Papal authority is accurate (below). The Pope is, in deed, the head hancho. The “Some would rather win hearts and minds through preaching Christ faithfully, than by handing down orders from Rome, as if every bishop was his delegate” is insulting of the intelligence of those who disagree with you and just assumes your premise. Everyone agrees that a “soft-handed” approach is not always the most faithful approach—sometimes it is shirking one’s duty.”

    “Head honcho” while colorful, is not exactly canonical.

    Nothing I wrote in the paragraph above is inaccurate, and nothing I wrote precludes a balanced approach. Yes, sometimes a pope needs to exercise the full weight of his juridical authority over his brother bishops, but those occasions should be rare. The excess of overuse is abuse. Just because the pope has the power to do something does not mean that he in fact always should. In fact, if providence is any teacher, God seems to act in just the same way. The Psalms are replete with examples of prayers regarding the apparent victory of the sinners over the righteous. There are many inputs that inform the prudential judgement of those in authority. While we may Monday-night Pontificate, we have no idea why the pope may or may not have taken action, or how his decisions may have fit into the longview. One thing we do know is that all men – including popes, will face the dread judgment seat of Christ, and will have to give an account.

    And yes, I think that the extreme vices of abdicating and dictating should be avoided.

  41. Cosmos says:

    Sorry for all the posts! This is a very confusing issue for me.

    Fr. Daniel, some canonical titles include: “His Holiness The Pope; Bishop Of Rome; Vicar Of Jesus Christ; Successor Of St. Peter, Prince Of The Apostles; Supreme Pontiff Of The Universal Church; Patriarch Of The West, etc., etc.,.” Head Hanco is not one of them, but it gets the point across.

    What do you mean that exercise of his full authority should be rare? Do you mena “rare” in an absolute sense? Should it be rare in a time of apostacy? If the apostacy takes decades to clean-up, does that count as one large instance (so still “rare” in the big picture), or do you hit a threshold after a few months or years? I think it should be exercised only when necessary, which might be quite often at times. Granted that “dictating” is undesirable and stifling.

    Ohio Annie said:

    “John Paul II is my model of redemptive suffering.” AMEN!!! What a model he was to the world in his suffering. Simply astounding.

    “I think the canonization process will be determined by the miracles and not by the wishes of the people.” Perhaps, but as Tom alluded to, his sainthood will be read as a stamp of aproval on everything he did. It will end discussion on the wisdom of his actions for many.

    “And he didn’t kiss a Koran because it was a Koran…” This would be better! Still, I am with the people who never questioned his subjective intentions in kissing the book, but the objective insanity of a Pope kissing the Koran- a source of so much pain and confusion in the World.

    The “devil’s advocate” did seem like a wise instituion.

  42. Alex says:

    Pope John Paul II was the only pope for most of my life, save His Holiness Benedci XVI. My generation is often described as the “JPII generation”, yesterday I heard a priest describe us tradition oriented, orthodox and faithful to the magisteruim. We are slightly better cathechized than our parents, many seminarians I know fit the above description to a “T”. We are the young families who pack the TLM and want to be honest true Catholics. I remember the 80’s and 90’s and remembering wondering why my parish was so different from the Mass on EWTN, now I marvel at the many similarities. Remember, no saint was perfect. Perhaps His HOliness did somethings we didn’t agree with or left somethings unattended, but he did a great deal. We often employ the saying “Brick by brick” when speaking of the return to tradition in the Mass. His Holiness, Pope JOhn Paul II, had to do many things brick by brick for the good of souls. I don’t doubt had he issued the Motu Propio, it would have been rejected everywhere by nearly every priest and bishop. Lastly, if the Good Lord doesn’t want him canonized He will not grant the miracles.

  43. jacques says:

    I don’t intend to question the personal holiness of our beloved Pope John Paul II. But has a canonization trial to judge a Pope only on his personal holiness?
    A Pope is a leader. Although being very holy and pious he may fail in his duties, make mistakes, say or perform acts bordering to heresy. Those are well known, it is useless to quote them again.
    The way he handled the paedophile priests issue, for example, cannot be clearly assessed since the question is far from being ended: Why to hurry in the canonization if there will be new unpredictable developments within the next 20 years?
    The problem is that JPII himself reformed the process of canonization trials in suppressing the “Devil’s Advocate” function.
    In the past times this man was very powerful and could prevent someone to become saint only for a few minor errors he could pick up in this person’s life.
    In my opinion this led anyhow into a devaluation of the sanctity.

  44. Cosmos says:

    I think Jacques sums up the counter-position very well.

    And just to clarify, I love JPII and consider him an extremely holy man. And, I see the current Pope and Fr. Z to be good indicators of my general theological attitude. Even if we disagree here.

    Last point, “if the Good Lord doesn’t want him canonized He will not grant the miracles.” Once again, isn’t the process two-fold: “Miracles PLUS…” The institutional Church has a role, obviously. Bl. Br. Andre is not yet a Saint, and talk about miracles!

  45. Cosmos,

    You and I do not disagree on the titles of the Pope, although I still think “Vicar of Peter” is also a venerable and ancient title. Every bishop is a “Vicar of Christ” but not every bishop is a “Vicar of Peter.” That honor and power alone rests with the Bishop and Pope of Rome.

    What I mean to say is what the Church has said regarding the proper role of bishops and the proper relationships bishops should have to the head of their college, the Pope. They are not simply his delegates, but full and
    true bishops. Latin bishops also have the added dynamic of being subjects of the Pope’s ministry as Patriarch of the Latin Church and its ritual tradition. In the Catholic East, while certainly recognizing and serving “with and under” (in the language of Lumen Gentium) the Holy Father, we have no such relationship or dependency as it pertains to our ritual Churches.

    Regarding apostasy, while it exists in pockets, I would not say it exists across the board. If a bishop has apostacized, clearly the pope needs to intervene juridically at that point (and probably much sooner than that). If the issue is with one of his Latin bishops, he should do so in care for the Latin Church, just as patriarchs and synods and major archbishops of Eastern Churches are called to do the same. The first step is generally fraternal correction in the spirit of the Gospel. If the bishop is unrepentant, then clearly there is the need for greater authority to be exercised.

    Again, making these determinations is a matter of the prudential judgment of the pope.

  46. Cosmos says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel, you seem like a very good man, and I hope that the tone of my messges is respectful.

    I agree with you generally, though I think that we live in an era that needs to emphasize Papal primacy even if collegiality needs to be emphasized in other times. Obedience seems to come more difficult than diversity of ideas these days.

    I should also correct my last post. I have no idea if any miracles happened due to Bl. Br. Andre’s intercession. He attributed everything in his life to St. Joseph’s intercession. I was assuming.

  47. Heather says:

    It is not correct to say that the pope is not a monarch…he is.

  48. Heather says:

    Bring back the Devil’s Advocate.

    Fr. Brian Harrison wrote a 2 part article for the Latin Mass Magazine titled “Assisi Revisited: Reflections of a Devil’s Advocate”. Part I was reprinted with permission at a blog called The Pertinacious Papist. I am pasting a snip of it below, but the entire article is worth reading. He wrote another excellent article on the topic of JPII and why he didn’t think John Paul II will be styled “The Great”.

    http://pblosser.blogspot.com/2006/09/revisiting-assisi.html

    Let us return to the question of the late Holy Father’s cause for canonization. As is well known, evidence is always required, as a condition for even beatification, that the Servant of God under consideration reached a heroic level in all seven main virtues: four of them cardinal (prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance) and three of them theological (faith, hope and charity). If the conclusions I have come to about John Paul II and Assisi are correct, then I respectfully submit that they constitute weighty evidence: first, that this well-beloved Pontiff, for all his many outstanding human and spiritual qualities, displayed a less than heroic level of prudence, in an extremely important manner, by overriding the advice of numerous cardinals in order to convoke high-profile and hitherto unheard-of interreligious gatherings that were predictably bound to sow confusion among millions round the world regarding the unique salvific role of the Catholic religion: and second, that *the same Assisi gatherings, interpreted in the light of the Pope’s own explanatory discourses, betrayed a decidedly less than heroic level in the still more fundamental virtue of faith*.

    The second article can be found at: http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2003/0310fea2.asp

  49. Cosmos,

    I enjoy the discussion! God bless you!

    Primacy and collegiality are inseparable realities. Their is no “sacrament of the papacy” precisely because he presides as a bishop in the midst (with and over) his brother bishops. In the Latin West, I do think there is a need to strengthen the bonds of unity with the Pope as Patriarch of his sui juris Church. I also think that the world – and this includes East and West – needs to listen to his prophetic voice in the Church. But his authority supports and should not undermine the legitimate exercise of authority by his brother bishops.

    Heather wrote:

    “It is not correct to say that the pope is not a monarch…he is”

    It is just this sort of ridiculous excess that lead to all that papal shoe kissing. No, he is not a monarch. He is a spiritual father, a bishop and an apostle. Christ alone is King. You could probably make the argument for the Pope as “Prime Minister,” but monarch? Nope.

  50. Bukowski says:

    It would be most gratifying if the discussions and written statements of the theologians examining the cause of John Paul II addressed the more substantial negative testimonies submitted for their examination; this seems the only way to establish responsibly and indubitably that he is due the Church’s public veneration, whatever affection or esteem individual faithful may have for him privately.

    I have read online and in print demonstrations that had been duly submitted and that charge the late Holy Father with heresy, schism, and scandal. If true, certainly he should not be raised to the altars, irrespective of any other accomplishments; if not, then the authors of such charges should be reproved and their charges refuted.

    Some may think to level such charges is rash, yet it would not seem so, as Gratian writes: _Huius [i.e., papae] culpas istic redarguere presumit mortalium nullus, quia cunctos ipse iudicaturus a nemine est iudicandus, nisi deprehendatur a fide deuius_.

  51. Geoffrey says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel:

    I’ve agreed with everything you have said thus far… with one exception. The Pope is indeed a monarch. Among his many current titles is that of Sovereign of Vatican City State. The Pope is the absolute monarch of that very small European country. Prior to that, the Pope was sovereign over a larger amount of lands termed “the Papal States of the Church”. The Almanach de Gotha (a royal genealogy book) says that the Pope “represents the oldest monarchy in Europe.”

  52. Geoffrey says:

    Regarding Pope John Paul the Great not doing enough when it comes to the liturgy, he did have much bigger fish to fry in the 80s and 90s. But notice how after leading us into the Third Millennium of the Christian era he began to turn his attention to the liturgy. His last encyclical was on the Eucharist… an encyclical which received high praises from SSPX Bishop Fellay, if I am not mistaken. The Servant of God also initiated the Year of the Eucharist and the CDW issued Redemptoris Sacramentum under his watch.

  53. Breier says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel,

    Heather and Cosmos are saying no more than the clear teaching of the First Vatican Council:

    “If anyone thus speaks, that the Roman Pontiff has only the office of inspection or direction, but not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the universal Church, not only in things which pertain to faith and morals, but also in those which pertain to the discipline and government of the Church spread over the whole world; or, that he possesses only the more important parts, but not the whole plentitude of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate, or over the churches altogether and individually, and over the pastors and the faithful altogether and indivudally, let him be anathema.” Dz. 1831

    No distinction between West and East there.

    Or again:

    “Furthermore, We teach and desclare that the Roman Church, by the disposition of the Lord, holds the sovereignty of ordinary power over all others, and that this power of jurisdiction on the part of the Roman Pontiff, which is truly episcopal, is immediate; and with respect to this the pastors and the faithful of whatever rite and dignity, both as separate individuals and all together, are bound by the duty of hierarchical subordinary and true obedience, not only in things which pertain to faith and morals, but also in those which pertain to the discipline and government of the Church spread over the whole world, so that the CHurch of Christ, protected not only by the Roman Pontiff, but by the unity of communion as well as of the profession of the same faith is one flock under the one highest sheperd. This is the doctrine of Catholic truth from which no one can deviate adn keep his faith and salvation.” Dz. 1827

  54. Breier says:

    Clearly, prudence and practical realities guides the Pope’s exercise of his authority. It is impossible for the Pope to micromanage the Church. But does he have the authority to micromanage? Yes. He has the authority to do whatever it takes.

  55. Alban says:

    I think this is one of those cases where JP II stands for and means different things to different individuals. I personally can’t reconcile him kissing the Mohammedan Qur’an and his cause for sainthood. What message did he give Catholics and the world here?

  56. Prof. Basto says:

    I don\’t think that allowing this cause to proceed before the 5 year waiting period wisely prescribed by Church Law was a good decision.

    That waiting period was meant for cases exactly like that of Pope John Paul II, in which there is an immediate surge of praise and acclaim for the deceased person, and immediate calls for his canonization (the \”santo subito\” phenomenon).

    Less well known possible Saints, that do not have \”celebrity\” (for lack of a better word) status, are less likely to have their causes unduly \”rushed\” through the ecclesiastical institutions anyway, so the very purpose of the five year rule is to \”cool down\” the process, to let the initial period of immediate acclaim and calls for urgent beatification pass, so that a detailed and careful analysis of the evidence can then take place, under an atmosphere in which critique and criticism of the proposed Saint\’s actions and virtues can really take place, and not be just a formality or a rubber-stamp.

    That \”calm\” and slow approach would be all the more important in John Paul II\’s case, given his more than 25 years of service at the Head of the Church militant. Most of the Cardinals and Bishops who are members of the CCS were created Cardinals of appointed Bishops by him; many priests who serve as theological consultants were either ordained under him or were advanced to service in the Holy See under him. I\’m not saying that there is intentional bias. But there is indeed a tendency to rush to positive conclusions. That would not be the case if the cause were allowed to \”chill\”, as causes often do. So there would be less of a positive bias in the minds of the \”judges\” of the cause.

    Also, the reform of the procedure, promulgated by John Paul II himself, removed the valuable position of the so-called \”Devil\’s Attorney\”, who was supposed to argue against any given cause. Especially in a case like that of the late Pope, in which there is huge antecipation of a positive result and almost no criticism, the presence of such an Attorney would serve a good vetting purpose.

    Anyway, this process was allowed to start before the five year waiting period. Should the decree on heroic virtues be presented to the Holy Father before the fifth aniversary of the death of the Servant of God, I would think it best if the Holy Father simply decided to place the cause \”on hold\” at least until the said fifth anniversary.

    And I say all this not personally doubting the holiness of the Servant of God in question, this in spite of a few regrettable actions and ommisions (such as the \”Assisi\” scandal; and the fact that he did much less than Pope Benedict to re-establish Catholic devotional practices) unfortunatelly committed by him in his capacity as Pope. We must not forget though, the many good actions he sanctioned during his long Pontificate (his instrumental fight against Communism, his more conservative stance in the later years of his reign, his unfailing defense of the innocent against the absolute evil of abortion, his example of Marian devotion, etc).

  57. Heather says:

    *It is just this sort of ridiculous excess that lead to all that papal shoe kissing. No, he is not a monarch. He is a spiritual father, a bishop and an apostle. Christ alone is King. You could probably make the argument for the Pope as “Prime Minister,” but monarch? Nope.*

    Ridiculous excess? Pardon me Father, but it is not ridiculous. Your contempt for history as well as the pious customs of the faithful towards the Holy Father is truly sad and belies a heterodox interpretation of collegiality. [Breathe deeply. Relax. And rethink this style of comment in the future.]

    The pope (Prince of the Apostles) is a monarch, and has not ceased being one simply because he no longer wears the tiara.

  58. Heather says:

    Fr. Z: I am relaxed, and I don’t understand why you find my post offensive. Fr. Daniel is wrong and his post not only mocked me, but the simple piety of faithful Catholics (those papal shoe kissers) throughout history whose reverence for the Vicar of Christ is something I find touching.

  59. ssoldie says:

    Our Father, who art in heaven Hallowed be Thy name, THY KINGDON COME THY WILL BE DONE……..not ours, leave all in the hands of God, and pray to our Lady for truth in guiding us…..please forgive any bad spelling.

  60. Cosmos says:

    “He is a spiritual father, a bishop and an apostle.”

    I think that you are underestimating the Biblical understanding of father. Fathers and husbands are heads of the family to whom the rest of the family must submit in love and obedience. Yes, the head must lead the body with sacrificial love, but he is still really the head, just as Christ is head of the Church (Christ and the Church are NOT equals, even if he lays down his life for Her in humility!!!). The Pope is our spiritual father, he is the shepherd that is not the hired hand. We do not think of him in terms of political categories (president, prime minsiter), but familially. As he was given this headship by the True Shepherd, there is no tension there. One’s given authority does not diminish another’s dignity.

    As such he is the Monarch of the Church as temporal reality and social organization. He is also, incidentally, the Monarch of the Vatican.

  61. Heather says:

    Well said Cosmos.

  62. Geoffrey,

    I will gladly concede your excellent point…he is a sovereign monarch over the Vatican City State. Long may he (especially the incumbent) reign!

    But he is no monarch of the Church.

    Breier, I deny nothing of what Vatican 1 asserted and Vatican II reaffirmed (and properly contextualized) regarding the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. If you read my post carefully, you will clearly see that I accept the idea of universal jurisdiction. The issue is that just because the pope may have a particular power does not mean:

    a. It should always be exercised.
    b. It is always exercised justly.

    The power of the keys in this regard should be used sparingly and should never undermine the legitimate exercise of pastoral governance by the bishop of a local church. This is why Vatican II worked so hard to properly situate the Petrine ministry in the context of the college of bishops.

    I restate: there is no “sacrament of the papacy”. It is also an elected office which should serve (not replace) the faithful exercise of apostolic ministry by his brother bishops throughout the world. Rome can thus be truly the matrix of visible Catholic unity.

    Cosmos, I do not disagree at all with your characterization of the Pope’s fatherly ministry. To be sure, he is “papa” and participates in the Royal-Priestly-Prophetic ministry of Christ as a successor to the apostles, and in a particular way in his election to the Office of Peter. All baptized and chrismated Christians share in this in their own particular way. But to subscribe to imperial imagery such as monarchy in reference to the Petrine ministry vis-a-vis his brother bishops to my mind makes him “more than a pope.” If we follow the Davidic model, it seems more proper to reserve the title of King to Christ with the Pope of Rome as His Prime Minister entrusted with the blessing and keys of authority to exercise in the King’s Name. We recall the warning our Lord gave the apostles regarding modeling themselves after worldly institutions and ways of leadership.

    Heather, I guess I never realized that the custom of papal shoe kissing was regarded with such emotional attachment by the faithful these days! I try to imagine St. Peter receiving disciples by having/making them kiss his feet. I must say it is quite difficult, especially given the warning from our Lord above, and His own priestly example of the “towel and water.”

    God bless!

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  63. supertradmom says:

    If I understand canonization, it does not mean “perfection” in all areas of one’s life, but a consistent holiness. A saint may not be an excellent administrator, or a superb homilist, or even show perfect prudence. One of the problems in the discussion is that we have seem the entire papacy of John Paul II in the media without the benefit of God’s eyes. I would venture that in today’s media glare we would be arguing over the canonization of Sts. Peter and Paul, or anyone except the Blessed Virgin Mary, who alone, except for Christ, was without sin. I did not “idolize” the late Pope as some have, but clearly the Pope was a great Pope for his time. I honestly do not know whether he should be canonized, and believe in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in such matters.

  64. Geoffrey says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel,

    Yes, there is that difference between Sovereign of Vatican City State (temporal monarch) and Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church. Both may have the qualities and similarities of a temporal monarch (“absolute power”, for lack of a better phrase), but the purpose and mission of are very different. That is something many heretics cannot differentiate (you know, the crazies who want to be able to elect bishops and the pope by “popular” vote… shudder).

  65. I hope you don’t think it impudent of a Scotsman to seek to enter an American discussion and I also must apologise for trying to do so so late in the day, but I have only just come across WDTPRS, and at that by accident.

    The problem I have with the drive to elevate Pope John Paul II to the altars is not with any seeming undue haste in the beatification process but, rather, with the incontrovertible fact that by any objective standard his dealings with at least one of his brother priests need to be reprobated.

    I speak, of course, of his treatment of Fr Pedro Arrupe SJ, the 28th Black Pope, as that good man lay stricken having suffered a stroke. His behaviour in this matter, at least as reported by George Weigel in his biography, Witness to Hope, was hardly what one should be entitled to expect of someone for whom the heroic virtues of the Faith are claimed. And were not those of a “good” man never mind a “great” Pope.

    Orrabestorratime

    Hughie McLoughlin

  66. Clinton says:

    supertradmom, that was well put.

    I’d be surprised if any man could bear the crushing burden of the papacy for over 25 years without once doing something that
    could be taken amiss. I’m confident that the Congregation will examine all the facts available and come to the appropriate
    decision. If their work is accomplished quickly, wonderful. If it takes generations to do the job properly, so be it. Basta.

  67. Geoffrey says:

    Mr. McLoughlin,

    Welcome!

    Please be more specific. I did a quick Wikipedia search on Fr. Arrupe and didn’t find anything questionable.

  68. Geoffrey,

    Popular votes for pope? Can you imagine a Pope Obama? (shudder!) Or the rank campaigning that would occur as the pope’s health declined?

    The current papal election model is just fine with me…

    I grasp the distinctions between the “monarchist” theories, but refuse to see any virtue in a maximalist interpretation or application of Vatican I. The principles of the hermeneutic of continuity apply equally to its teachings.

  69. Heather says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel,

    He is indeed a monarch of the Church and up until Vatican II has always been thought so. It is only our egalitarian age that finds monarchy offensive.

    But for heaven’s sake, you can’t seriously deny history can you? The pope is *not* a first among equals.

  70. Heather,

    I do not find hierarchy, primacy or supremacy offensive at all, but I do not and will not regard the Bishop and Pope of Rome as a monarch over the Church. We have no king but Christ.

    It is for heaven’s sake that I say that the Pope insofar as he is a bishop, is the first among equals among his brother bishops.

    The Pope insofar as he is patriarch of a sui juris Church is the first among equals among his brother patriarchs.

    But the Pope insofar as he is the Vicar and Successor St. Peter is without equal. He is truly the Servant of the Servants of God, in the words of St. Gregory the Great.

    The melding of these roles historically has been a great source of confusion, especially for Latins because for them, the first two levels of his ministry (episcopal and patriarchal) pertain directly to the Latin Church. The third and highest is universal. The problems associated with such a confusion of the three roles is also acknowledged by a certain former professor from Regensburg who now goes by a different name. :-)

  71. RBrown says:

    I do not find hierarchy, primacy or supremacy offensive at all, but I do not and will not regard the Bishop and Pope of Rome as a monarch over the Church. We have no king but Christ.

    NB: The mitre of Eastern bishops is typically a crown, the sign of a monarch.

    It is for heaven’s sake that I say that the Pope insofar as he is a bishop, is the first among equals among his brother bishops.

    The Pope insofar as he is patriarch of a sui juris Church is the first among equals among his brother patriarchs.

    But the Pope insofar as he is the Vicar and Successor St. Peter is without equal. He is truly the Servant of the Servants of God, in the words of St. Gregory the Great.

    The melding of these roles historically has been a great source of confusion, especially for Latins because for them, the first two levels of his ministry (episcopal and patriarchal) pertain directly to the Latin Church. The third and highest is universal. The problems associated with such a confusion of the three roles is also acknowledged by a certain former professor from Regensburg who now goes by a different name. :-)
    Comment by Fr. Deacon Daniel —

    In so far as the pope is primus inter pares doctrinally, then his status compared to other bishops cannot so easily be separated from his status as Vicar of Christ and Successor to Peter.

    BTW, BXVI junked the title of Patriarch of the West.

  72. Heather says:

    You are sadly mistaken Fr. Daniel. The pope is indeed a monarch, whether you like it or not.

    Some recommended reading:

    *The Papal Monarchy* by Dom Prosper Gueranger

    http://loretopubs.org/index.php?target=products&product_id=94

  73. Cosmos says:

    Clinton said: “I’d be surprised if any man could bear the crushing burden of the papacy for over 25 years without once doing something that could be taken amiss…”

    On the other hand, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness.” James 3:1

    I hope people understand that I am not calling JPII’s faith into question at any level. In fact, I am sure he is much closer to Our Lord and Lady than I will ever be. If I make it to Heaven, I will have to stain my neck and eyes to see him. In the many ways discussed throughout this thread he was a truly unparalleled man. But the above statement is just not satisfactory to many of us.

    Of course no one is perfect, but it was not JPII’s accumulated little mistakes that anyone is worried about. The real problem JPII’s critics point out is that he said and a lot of things over the years that “muddied” the waters concerning the exclusivity of Christ for salvation. That is the one thing you really can’t do as the Pope. Did he ever say that explicitly? No. Did he think that? I am sure he did not. But through his Assissi gatherings and other ecumenical efforts, his kissing of the Koran, the prayer for the protection of Islam, his emphasis on the irrevocable and seemingly independent (of Christ) bond that our “older brothers in faith” have to the Father, etc., his increased contact with Protestants in hitherto unacceptable ways, his “hope” that Hell could be empty, and his refusal to clamp down on the theologians (good and bad) who ran wild with these statements seemed, together, to fan the flames of liberalism and relativism that had already destroyed many of the Protestant denominations and continue to do great damage to the Catholic Church. In other words, in a time of rampant relativism, he took an aggressively nuanced stance that muddied the waters sufficiently to aid his enemies rather than his friends. In an age where fewer and fewer care about religion except to insist that all religions are equal, his gestures were extraordinarily confusing even if well-intentioned. They garnered praise precisely because they did NOT SEEM to put Christ above all else; they garnered praise because they SEEMED to say precisely what they world wanted him to: we are all fine.

    I think people are right that he did these things in reaction to the Nazi and Communist violence he witnessed so personally. I do not question his intentions. But it has become the common understanding that just as other religion’s “fundamentalism” was wrong, so our “fundamentalism” is wrong. This moral equivocation is an easy and unacceptable false parallel. St. Francis is a great picture of a Catholic fundamentalist who converted Muslims. We should not shy away from this. We are fanatics carrying a message of sacrificial love.

    Furthermore, to me, his SEEMING lack of concern with the liturgy and other “non-essential” elements of the tradition and his reinterpretation of so much doctrine in a personalist manner seemed to disconnect us from the past in a way that gave credit to the progressives. It created a spirit of “orthodox protestanism” among even devout Catholics where everything is either big T or little t tradition and what is not essential is expendable. Have you ever noticed that when you read Chesterton, Newman, Belloc, etc., many of their reasons for converting to Catholicism (timelessness, ritual, continuity, liturgy, music, Latin, opposition to liberalism, etc.) simply no longer apply. None of these men would enter an average parish mass today and experience what they described then.

  74. Prof. Basto says:

    RBrown: In so far as the pope is primus inter pares doctrinally, then his status compared to other bishops cannot so easily be separated from his status as Vicar of Christ and Successor to Peter.

    RBrown,

    The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Pastor Aeternus of the First Vatican Council defines that the Pope is no mere primus inter pares. He enjoys primacy of jurisdiction over all the rest of the Bishops.

    ***

    Even if all the Bishops except the Roman Pontiff were to decide something, and the Roman Pontiff didn’t agree, the Roman Pontiff would prevail.

    Ergo, even if there are two subjects of supreme authority in the Church: the Pope and the College of Bishops, the Pope alone remains the sole fundamental source of jurisdictional primacy, since the College of Bishops can only act “with its Head and never without its head”.

    So, in the end, for the College of Bishops (that includes the Pope, as head, and the other Bishops, as members) to act, the approval of the Roman Pontiff is always fundamental.

    The Roman Pontiff disapproving, an act that garnered the approval of the rest of the Bishops would be void.

    ***

    The role of all the Bishops implies a certain kingly power and dignity. All the more so in the case of the Roman Pontiff, who is invested with primacy of jurisdiction.

    The kingly nature of the episcopal office is expressed in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite if you pay attention to the formula used for the anointing of the hands of the newly consecrated Bishop: “Ungantur manus istae de oleo sanctificato, et Chrismate sanctificationis, sicut unxit Samuel David Regem, et Prophetam, ita ungantur, et consecrentur.”

    ***

    Incidentally, the Pope is indeed a temporal monarch, as Sovereign of the Vatican City State.

    And if it be said of his spiritual office, that the Pope is not a monarch in the Church militant, then it must be countered that he is much more then a prime minister. Having received the “keyes of the Kingdom of Heaven”, Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, and his successors, are more like “Regents” of the Church militant, or “stewards of the Kingdom”.

    So perhaps the analogy to a “viceroy” or a Governor-General, who sits on a throne, receives salutes, etc., is more perfect than the analogy to a prime-minister.

    Note that when Eliakim received the keyes of the House of David as Royal Chamberlain, in a passage of Isaiah that is analogous to the granting of the Keyes of the Kingdom of Heaven to Peter (see Isaiah 22:22), he was invested with a robe, with a girdle, and received the authority of government.

    ***

    That delegated authority that Peter and his sucessors possess from Christ as His Vicars on Earth is indeed monarchical. Ergo the “vice-regal” nature of the Roman Pontificate. The Pope is Vicar of Christ. Vicar is the one who is in the place of someone-else. Christ is King. So the Pope is the King’s Vicar. The King’s place holder is a Viceroy.

    As Viceroy of Christ, the Pope performs a fatherly function over the Lord’s flock that cannot be compared to the role of a mere prime minister. The Constitution Pastor Aeternus defines the Pope as the successor of blessed Peter, the prince of the apostles, true vicar of Christ, head of the whole Church and father and teacher of all Christian people.

    Note that, in various ecclesiastical documents the Pope is refered to as “vice-gerent” of the Almighty.

    The Pope’s is a delegated authority, received directly from the Lord himself, but, in discharging that office, the Pope partakes, as “Father of all Christian people”, of the monarchy of Christ. No prime-minister is the “Father” of his people. That’s the monarch’s role. As the Lord’s viceroy, the “Vicar of Christ” shares in that monarchical fatherly role.

  75. mpm says:

    I wish to support my friend, Fr. Deacon Daniel, in what he is saying about the nature of the Papacy, as a more properly theological exposition of the primacy, rather than a temporal, or merely historical, understanding of it.

    And to do so, by quoting from a letter by Joseph Ratzinger in AD 2000 to an old and cherished friend of his from the 1950s, Metropolitan Damaskinos of Switzerland, an Orthodox prelate who had first written a letter to him after the issuance of Christus Dominus. The letter may be found in the (extremely helpful) book, Pilgrim Fellowship on Earth: The Church as Communion (Ignatius Press, 2002), pp. 232-234).

    Ratzinger is speaking as a private person, not officially as Prefect of the CDF. I say this because he found it necessary to make that distinction in this letter. I will abridge.

    He says he wants to address the “main obstacle” to communion between the Catholics and the Orthodox, which he identifies as “the pope’s primacy of jurisdiction” (emphasis in original). He identifies two aspects of the question: 1) a problem of language; and 2) the span of dogma in practice. (emphasis in original). I will not mention #2, beyond noting that he paraphrases his own expression as the difference between “theory and practice”.

    Regarding the “problem of language”, Ratzinger begins by saying: “The concept of jurisdiction over the whole Church, and, indeed, the legal terminology of the second millenium as such, is foreign to the East and disturbs people whenever they are aware of it” (emphasis mine).

    He then says he believes “it is right and also possible to trace the essential concepts … back to their basis in patristic theology and, in that way, not only to make them more comprehensible, but also of course to discover starting points for a usage more in keeping with the thinking of the Fathers” (emphasis mine).

    He mentions how Patriarch Athenagoras greeted Paul VI in Jerusalem with the words of Ignatius of Antioch: “first in honor”, “president in love” (agape). [There may be better ways of expressing the Greek in English, but that’s the English translation in the book.]

    “I believe that we could correctly define “jurisdiction over the whole Church” on that basis: the “honor” of the first is not, indeed, to be understood in the sense of the honor accorded by worldly protocol; honor in the Church is service, obedience to Christ. Then again, agape is not just a feeling entailing no obligations, still less a form of social organization, but is in the final analysis a eucharistic concept, which is as such connected to the theology of the Cross, since the Eucharist is based on the Cross; the Cross is the most extreme expression of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ” (emphasis in original).

    In the dispute over women’s ordination, “I tried to interpret the ministry of the pope as a ministry of obedience, with him as the guarantor of obedience: the pope is not an absolute monarch whose will is law, but quite the opposite — he always has to try to resist arbitrary self-will and to call the Church back to the standard of obedience; therefore, he must himself be first in obedience.”

  76. Prof. Basto,

    Thank you for your wonderful post.

    I certainly do not question the participatory nature of the pope’s (or any bishop’s) power of governance. In fact, I believe I said as much. One point that has not been mentioned is the passage from the Gospel regarding the Twelve Apostles sitting on twelve thrones ruling the twelve tribes of Israel. I would not nor ever have advocated a soft-pedaled sense of governance in the nature of the episcopacy. In fact, in the Old Testament, father-patriarch-judge-king-priest all in some way express the nature of fatherhood intrinsic to the episcopate. The bishop – every bishop – is an icon of the Fatherhood of God, if one accepts the ecclesial typology of Ignatius of Antioch. Every bishop is also in the image of the Royal High Priest, like Melchizedek of old. And so, to Randy’s point, it is proper for bishop’s to wear crowns, as our bishop’s do in the East.

    I will go even a step further: much of the language involved in the granting of the Keys seems to allude to the OT blessing of primogeniture. SImon Peter thus stands in the midst of his brothers as the one blessed by the Father to share in the rights of primogeniture (the first born) which are given to Christ. All apostolic power is participatory power. For Simon Peter, he acts as His viceroy (I agree with you – I like that term much better than Prime Minister).

    But while prince and viceroy, Simon Peter and no Pope that succeeded him, is a King.

  77. mpm,

    THank you, my friend. As always, very few say it better than Pope Benedict (Joseph Ratzinger). The Kingdom of Christ is of a very different nature than the Imperium of this world. The presidential power of Roma is “amor” and “honor” need not be divorced from jurisdiction. THe West historically has seemed to want to reduce the papacy to jurisdictional categories and concerns divorced from its eucharistic and charitable orientation (the primary law taught by CHrist is that of love…the structure of the Church is primarily eucharistic and charitable), whereas the East has tended to deprive the honor of the primogeniture of its rightful jurisdictional power. I think a better, more balanced synthesis is possible, but only possible if the West continues its “dialogue of charity” with the East.

    God bless!

  78. mpm says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel,

    You’re welcome. And God’s blessings on you, your family, and your ministry.

  79. Cosmos says:

    Jesus says call no man “father,” yet we do. Jesus says “who is good but God alone,” yet we do. Why? Because we understand what he meant. There have been thousands of “kings” since Jesus comes. I don’t understand the idea that the Pope’s “sovereignty” over the church (as mentioned in VII) somehow threatens Jesus’ ultimate sovereignty.

    So while I appreciate those quotes from Ratzinger, he is a creative theologian being creative, is it really compatible with Vat I or Vat II(below)? That letter can’t be your starting point with such seemingly contradictory statements from councils.

    “If anyone thus speaks, that the Roman Pontiff has only the office of inspection or direction, but not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the universal Church, not only in things which pertain to faith and morals, but also in those which pertain to the discipline and government of the Church spread over the whole world; or, that he possesses only the more important parts, but not the whole plentitude of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate, or over the churches altogether and individually, and over the pastors and the faithful altogether and indivudally, let him be anathema.” Dz. 1831

    “Furthermore, We teach and desclare that the Roman Church, by the disposition of the Lord, holds the sovereignty of ordinary power over all others, and that this power of jurisdiction on the part of the Roman Pontiff, which is truly episcopal, is immediate; and with respect to this the pastors and the faithful of whatever rite and dignity, both as separate individuals and all together, are bound by the duty of hierarchical subordinary and true obedience, not only in things which pertain to faith and morals, but also in those which pertain to the discipline and government of the Church spread over the whole world, so that the Church of Christ, protected not only by the Roman Pontiff, but by the unity of communion as well as of the profession of the same faith is one flock under the one highest sheperd. This is the doctrine of Catholic truth from which no one can deviate adn keep his faith and salvation.” Dz. 1827

  80. mpm says:

    Cosmos,

    For what it’s worth, to my way of thinking, a “creative theologian” is a heretic, pure and simple. My words, not yours. So, if I thought Ratzinger was being “creative” here, I wouldn’t look kindly on his thoughts.

    Like I said, I “abridged” the section I quoted, but I would like to allay your fears about his being “creative”, so I’ll quote a sentence or two more, which occurs after what I already quoted, but before he completes his ideas in speaking about the span of dogma in practice, which adds additional light to his thinking.

    A patristic interpretation of the primacy is in any case encouraged by the First Vatican Council itself, when it says that the constant practice of the Church stands for the teaching proclaimed there, as do the ecumenical councils, especially those in which East and West met together in unity of faith and love; here Vatican I refers to the Fourth Council of Constantinople (DS 3065f).

    Ratzinger, as a Professor of Fundamental Theology, is fully aware of Vatican I, because it is one of the most important sources for the matter covered by Fundamental Theology.

    Letters to Ratzinger, and his responses, unfortunately only can give us a glimpse of what he has in mind, not everything. If you are intrigued by this, I would recommend buying or borrowing the book, and reading the whole thing (the full chapter covers pp. 217-252).

  81. Cosmos says:

    MPM,
    You misunderstand me. I would never say “being a “creative theologian” equals being a heretic” because:
    (a) There is a difference between a theologian working through difficult concepts and that same theologian assuming that he is right and embracing his idea as if it were Church doctrine, and
    (b) There is an even bigger differnece between thinking creatively in a letter or among other theologians and thinking cratively, outloud, in front of the world, as bishop or pope. The thoroughly shrunken and often forgottten sin of “scandal” was often avoided simply by not congecturing on a world stage.

    In fact, if I had one general suggestion for the health of the Church, it would be to de-emphasize the need for advanced theological degrees for Bishops. Bishops should be bright, know their Catechism and scripture fowards and backwards, and read Latin. I think the rest is often counter-productive.

    Also, Benedict XVI has changed his mind before and been wrong on occasion. While I have no doubt that Ratzinger had VI and VII in mind when he wrote this, I just don’t see how he gets from A to B while taking them into account based on his words or your explanation. For that reason I will stick with what the words seem to mean on their face.

  82. mpm says:

    Cosmos,

    Fine.

  83. Cosmos,

    I never said that the Pope’s sovereignty threatened Christ’s. In fact I was very clear that it is a matter of participation in Christ’s sovereignty – not just for the Pope but for all bishops…all successors of the apostles. All bishop’s are the Vicars of Christ, not by grant from the Pope but by virtue of their apostolic succession.

    One further point:

    Just as primogeniture cannot be divorced from the existence of fraternity on some level, so primacy cannot the existence of collegiality. Several have made comments deriding the notion of collegiality. This I think presents a rather disfigured and monstrous distortion of ecclesiology. Peter’s ministry from CHrist is clearly one of strengthening his brethren. They are not simply his delegates.

    And whatever has been granted by Christ to Peter and thus to the Pope of Rome with regard to his power of universal jurisdiction does not in any way preclude his obligation of service and charity towards his brother bishops. Again, just because a Pope CAN do something does not mean he always SHOULD.

  84. …that is, “so primacy cannot be divorced from the existence of collegiality.”

  85. Heather says:

    *The pope is a monarch*. I know monarchy may offend modern ears, it shouldn\’t, but it does. But just because you don\’t like something, doesn\’t mean you can will it not to be so.

  86. Heather,

    You make far too many assumptions about me. I am a Byzantine…modern ears? Truly? Not everyone who cringes at excess is a modern.

    If it comforts you to call the pope a monarch, fine. But just because you like something, does not make it so.

    He is my Pope and I gladly defend communion with him…but he is not more than a Pope.

    Have a happy 4th!

  87. Heather says:

    Being a Byzantine doesn’t make you immune to the effects of modernity. I already knew you were an Easterner, and it certainly explains a lot.

    Unlike you, I’m not making a mere assertion…I have history and truth on my side.

  88. Heather,

    “It certainly explains a lot.”

    Is it in your nature to insult others while asserting your position? I never said that I was “immune.” Only that my reasons did not necessarily fit into the apparently very narrow framework of your worldview (modern vs. monarchial) .

    Clearly you know little to nothing of the Christian East, especially our Imperial leanings…the fact that our bishops are crowned and that we refer to them as Vladyko (“Lord”) and the Imperial pomp of our liturgies. If there ever was a tradition which would uphold a monarchial/imperial vision of the ecclesia it would be the Byzantines.

    While we would uphold the primacy as it is defined according to the Church, we would never, ever, ever, ever (did I say never and ever?) yield to the notion that the Pope is the King/Monarch of the Church. Such a position belongs to Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ alone. If the Byzantine East has struggled with the extremes of Caesaro-papism (ascribing Petrine faculties of Church unity to the Imperium, essentially rendering the Church a department of State), the West most certainly has had its issues with the extremes of Papo-caesarism (aka, the Pope/Pontiff is King, making nations and Churches departments of the Vatican). A balanced Catholic approach would reject both and seek a way that neither exaggerates nor diminishes the role and ministry of the Pope in the communion of Churches.

    History and truth are not always synonymous. Some popes at certain times may have attempted to assert themselves as monarchs, were carried around in pomp and brilliance like a king, had people kiss their blessed feet like the lords of this earth, and perhaps even at times misused or abused their Petrine authority, but that is no argument that the Pope is a king.

    Look since we are clearly at an impasse here (“The Pope is King/Monarch!” and “No, he is not!”), I suggest that we simply take our positions to prayer and further study. If we both get to heaven, which I certainly hope is the case, we’ll have to get along there so there is no sense in spoiling our joy (or risking it) by fighting here on earth.

    And all will be revealed in Christ Our King on the great and glorious Day of the Kyrios (Lord) that will offer insight and illumination neither of us in our own limited way ever considered.

    I pray that God blesses you and yours.

    In ICXC,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  89. prof. basto says:

    “…but he is not more than a Pope”.

    Even if the Pope is not the monarch of the Church, but merely a Viceroy (or, in the ecclesiastical language, a Vicar), Christ being the Church’s only King, the Pope is:

    (a)as Father of all Christians, more then a temporal monarch.

    – The office of Pope is certainly higher in dignity and status than that of a Christian temporal monarch. Also, a true Christian social order prevailing, it is undoubted that the Pope can constitute and depose, for good reason, Christian temporal monarchs, as happened in the past. The Pope is indeed “the Father of Princes and Kings”.

    (b) AND he is also, incidentally, a temporal monarch himself, as “Sovereign of the Vatican City State”.

    And as for the Church militant, that parcel of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, of which Christ is King, the Pope, Vicar of Christ, as the Lord’s viceroy, with the cooperation of the other Bishops, discharges an authority that is indeed monarchical.

    The whole of the Church’s hierarchical order shows that it is no democracy, but indeed a kingdom. Christ is king, and His law is supreme. But as Christ’s delegate and Vicar on Earth, the pope does have an authority that is monarchical in nature.

  90. Heather says:

    You presume too much Fr. Daniel, and are reading into a post and finding an insult where there is none.

    Furthermore, I attend an Eastern Rite parish at least half of the time, so I’m not ignorant of the East as you assume.

    Establishment views of history may not always be accurate, but I’d think one could trust the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1917.

  91. Prof. Basto,

    I do not disagree with any of your points, especially since you seem to express the shared nature of monarchy in the episcopate. I think it is one thing to say that “the Pope is monarch of the Church” and quite another to say that the spiritual authority to govern granted to the episcopate is a royal-priestly power and thus monarchical. I would have the same reaction if someone said “the Pope is priest or prophet of the Church.” It is the one-sided and exclusionary nature of the phrasing which makes it unbalanced. The Pope as elected viceroy of the King stands faithfully with and over his brethren in the college of bishops with full power to act and speak in the name of Christ and of the college of Bishops.

    Heather,

    I’m glad you attend one our Eastern parishes. Then you should be familiar with the points I mentioned earlier. But I am unclear then as to the meaning of your phrase “it certainly explains a lot” in reference to my being Eastern. If that is somehow intended to be complimentary, it would certainly be an unusual way to express it.

    Regarding the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1917, to be sure it is a worthy resource in most respects. There are issues from time to time, especially when it comes to matters which touch on the Christian East. It is a product of its time written primarily from a Latin perspective and should be read, appreciated and valued as such.

  92. prof. basto says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel,

    I was never trying to argue against your views. I see that we are very much in agreement.

    I was arguing, not against your perspective, but against the perspective of those who, perhaps because they have a prejudice against monarchy as a form of Government (temporal monarchy, monarchy as a form of civil Government), attempt to deny the monarchical nature of the Church and ergo they attempt to deny the Pope’s role as “viceroy” of Christ.

    This leads to an incorrect ecclesiology, to a weak sense of hierarchical organization, a weak sense of respect for ecclesiastical authority. So it must be reaffirmed that the Church has a monarchical structure, that the Pope, as Christ’s deputy, shares in the Lord’s monarchical authority.

    There are those who like to say that, because certain external symbolic elements signifying the Pope’s special participation in Christ’s monarchy (e.g. the Tiara, the Sedia gestatoria, etc), have been abandoned, that would have meant a rupture with the hierarchical model of the Church that prevailed in the past. This is especially a Western phenomenon, arisen in the 1960’s. Usually, enthusiasts of the liturgical reforms of the Latin Church, and those who believe that the Second Vatican Council meant a discontinuity with the Church’s history will advance the thesis that all clericalism is to be swept under the rug, and that the “imperial” mode of discharging the Petrine ministry is to be abandoned. But their defense of collegiality is nothing but a pretext. What the liberals really want is to see the spread of their dissenting, heterodox opinions and false doctrines, without any kind of effective correction.

    So, as you see, I’m in no way concerned with denying an Eastern Catholic perspective on the petrine primacy. My real target are those who want to promote a false sense of “ecclesiastical democracy”, in which the Pope can be ignored, disrespected, defyed, etc, as if he werent a true and proper Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe and Bridegroom of the Church.

  93. Thanks, Professor. THe more I study, the more convinced I am of the Davidic paradigm for most things Catholic (East and West). It is fascinating really.