Observations about the speed of some causes for beatification

In the combox of this blog some people are expressing confusion or dismay about the rapid beatification of Ven. John Paul II.

As you know, it was announced that the Beatification will take place on 1 May.  This is just over six years since the late Pope’s death.

Pretty speedy.

The process of cause of a saint or the examination of a claimed miracle or the investigation of a possible martyrdom are “processes”.  I don’t mean to be circular.  A “process” in this sense is like a legal process, it is like a trial.

Evidence is gathered according to a rigorous standard of documentation, people are deposed under oath, and a case is presented.  Others examine the methods by which everything is gathered and they study the content.  They conduct their own investigations to find if anything important might be missing, by accident or on purpose.  Various commissions, scientific, historical, and theological give opinions.  Eventually everything is presented before members of the Congregation, cardinals and bishops, who give their opinion, much as a jury would.  If they give their approval, a decision is issued in the form of a decree – Congregations have jurisdiction to issue decrees – and it goes to the Church’s highest judge, the Roman Pontiff.

At that point the Roman Pontiff can choose to promulgate the decree or not.

This is like a juridical process or case because a claim has been made and,  in justice, they truth of the claim has to be determined.  It is a matter of justice for the one who made the claim in the first place and was the “actor” (from Latin ago) for the cause.  He has a support staff, as a client would have lawyers and experts.

Sometimes it take years, decades, to assemble the proofs for a cause.  It often depends not just on the date of death of the servant of God in question, but also, particularly, on the resources of the actor.  The actor has to provide all the money for research, travel, documentation, copies, translations, scientific studies, etc. etc.  This can be very costly, especially if the person was very famous and had a large quantity of of writings, speeches, many people knew him.  Sometimes the actor has to provide the motivation to move forward as well.  He will get someone to oversee the mechanics of the process and keep it going.

Consider that in the case of John Paul II, there were literally kilometers of documents from his pontificate, many thousands of speeches, he lived a long life and many people knew him, etc. However, the actor in this cause had tremendous resources and was able to get a strong team together and get everything done.  On the other hand, in the case of Fr. McGiveny, founder of the Knights of Columbus, there were so few writings, letters, sermons, personal materials, that that part of the cause went quickly.

I was at the press conference many years ago for the beatification of Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer.  Someone asked how his beatification went forward so quickly.  The Prefect answered that Opus Dei was very well organized.   In other words, they had huge resources and therefore put the case together quickly.

There were great resources available for the cause of John Paul II, which was carried forward by the Diocese of Rome.   The greater the manpower and expertise, the swifter the work, the better (hopefully)  the preparation, the better the case, the faster the process can move forward.

In any case, from the point of view of the Congregation, if the cause is brought to a conclusion, then in justice the decree should not be delayed.

Then there is the factor of the Roman Pontiff.

The Pope decides when it is opportune to promulgate a decree or go ahead with a beatification or a canonization.  The Congregation does its part, in seeing to the cause and making sure that, within a reasonable doubt, the truth has been ferreted out and justice is done for the one who proposed the cause in the first place.

The Roman Pontiff looks at the determinations of the Congregation, which is there to serve him and the Church, and then decides what is best for the Church, the salvation of souls and the glory of God.

It may be that the Pope will determine that, for the good of the Church, it is not opportune to promulgate a decree.  He may, for example, delay doing something which may have consequences for Catholics in a country such as China or in Iraq.  He may accept a decree from the Congregation about, for example the heroic virtues of Pius XII and then delay in its promulgation until he deems the time is right.  A Pope may dispense with part of the process, as a matter of fact, for the good of the Church as, for example, when John Paul II moved the cause of Juan Diego forward without the usual miracle.   Similarly, Benedict XVI dispensed from the five year delay before the process for beatification of John Paul II could begin.

The main points here, for your understanding of what goes on in these causes, is that there is a trial, a case, a process.  If a good case has been made and the Congregation determines within reasonable doubt that what the actor proposed is true (a person lived a life of heroic virtue, there was a miracle obtained through some person’s intercession, that a person was killed out of hatred for Christ, the Church or some virtue that cannot be separated from them) then it would be wrong to delay moving to the next step.

The Vicar of Christ does the rest.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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124 Responses to Observations about the speed of some causes for beatification

  1. Supertradmum says:

    Father Z,

    Thank you for this thoughtful and interesting entry. The miracles do point to miraculous intercession. God bless the Pope, Benedict XVI, and may the intercession of John Paul II heal our Church and drawn many people to the Truth. Let us pray that John Paul II heals the division of the SSPX. That would be a miracle.

  2. Paul says:

    Father, are there cases of the cause turning up significant, adverse evidence? Enough that the cause is officially dropped? I ask because an objection I heard often as a Protestant, was that “saint making” was just a rubber stamp, applied as the Church directed.

    By the way, thank you -very- much for your blog. It was instrumental in my path to the Church.

  3. Jack Orlando says:

    Thank you, Father, for explaining this. Many, I suspect, will not only bemoan the speed of John Paul II’s beatification, but the very fact. Not me. I could elaborate, but the topic is the speed.

  4. Fr. Basil says:

    \\Father, are there cases of the cause turning up significant, adverse evidence? Enough that the cause is officially dropped?\\

    I understand this happened with Christopher Columbus.

  5. Geremia says:

    I concur with @Paul. I thought there was supposed to be a devil’s advocate trying to make the best case against the cause for beatification or canonization. Who is this in Pope John Paul II’s case? Thanks

    Also, not to be too cynical, but your account, Fr. Z, makes it seem like the richest groups with the most resources are the only ones who can “make” saints.

    [Consider that anyone can be an "actor" in a cause. But, consider that work as to be done in a cause. A worker is worthy of his wage, no? If documents are to be translated, the translator must be paid. If you must send someone to search the records in the servant of God's native place, he will need to travel and then have someplace to live while there. If there are scientific tests to be done, they must be paid for. Etc. There are bills to pay. Who will pay them? Then, if there are many thousands of documents to sort or transcribe, who will do it? It is, therefore, not a surprise that religious orders have had a lot of blesseds and saints in the modern era: they have man or woman power and resources. Dioceses are sometimes actors in a cause. Nevertheless, anyone can be an actor in a cause. But once you are the actor, you have to carry out your responsibility to the cause.]

  6. Leonius says:

    I wonder if this cause would have been so successful before John Paul II himself did away with the devils advocate, its much easier to be declared a saint I would imagine now that the Church only focuses on the good and ignores the bad.

    Whether John Paul II is a saint or not I fear the Church declaring him such will do more harm than good given that it seems to many that the decision to declare him a saint was already made years ago which brings the whole new canonization process into disrepute.

    Those who love him would continue to love him whether he is canonized or not, those who have been scandalized by some of his actions, regardless of whether their sense of scandal is justified or not will find their faith in the Church undermined by his canonization.

  7. Centristian says:

    Father Z’s post is a good reminder that one should only comment forcefully when one knows what one is talking about. I retract previous statements lamenting the haste of certain causes for canonization, including that of Pope John Paul II. This perspective was very eye-opening.

  8. St. Louis IX says:

    I`m a bit confused.
    Given the state of the Church during Pope John Paul II pontificate.
    Lack of membership/attendance at Mass
    Scandals within the Priesthood
    Belief in the True Presence dropping to numbers below 30 percent
    The fact the Pope Benedict XVI has said the TLM was never Abrograted YET the practice and disposition towards those that loved it strongly suggests the opposite.
    This is just to name a very few things,,How do they move this Pope to Sainthood?
    Does His pontificate not have anything to do with his Sainthood? I mean even if he were Very Holy does the Church not consider his Pontificate?

  9. pfreddys says:

    A couple of years ago we had a discussion on a different area of the internet about whether or not the canonization of an individual is a working of the Extraordinary Magisterium ie infallible. No one really came to a conclusion as no one could cite anything definitive either way. Would any one know of something definitive if this is the case or not?

  10. Geoffrey says:

    Laudetur Iesus Christus! Deo gratias!

    I wonder if one day Fr. Z will muse on what it feels like to have been ordained by a saint? :-)

  11. albinus1 says:

    I understand this happened with Christopher Columbus.

    Also, as I understand it, with Thomas a Kempis (author of The Imitation of Christ). I believe that he is recognized as a saint by the Anglican Church but not the Catholic Church.

    I believe that the difficulty in his case — and I welcome correction if I am mistaken — is that when his body was exhumed, evidence was discovered that indicated that he might have been inadvertently been buried alive, which made the final disposition of his soul at the moment of physical death open to question.

  12. St. Louis IX: The answer is that JPII may meet all the requirements for sainthood even if his pontificate were an unmitigated disaster. Witness the case of Pope St. Celestine V. Dante, incidentally, placed this Pope in hell in his Divine Comedy; the Church held otherwise.

  13. St. Louis IX says:

    @ Anita Moore OPL

    Thank you for the insight.

  14. Mike Morrow says:

    I always thought of John Paul II being much more a political leader…in fact an extremely important world political leader as much responsible for the fall of Eastern Bloc communism as any other candidate that can be identified.

    I don’t think of him as being a religious leader, or certainly, not first and foremost a religious leader.

  15. Leonius: Read my post again.

  16. Summers says:

    The judicial process to sainthood by the Roman Catholic Church has not always been the way a saint was canonized. St. Thomas Aquinas was declared a saint based on his writings alone. This was the case with most, if not all, saints of the first millennium I believe; however, Eastern Catholics and/or Orthodox can perhaps speak more aptly to this as they have never used what the Orthodox refer to as the “forensic” approach to sainthood. Be that as it may, I for one am THRILLED that John Paul II is to be beatified! Deo Gratias! The world today desperately needs his presence!

  17. wolfeken says:

    At the same time, it is not wrong to note that this fast track is extremely new. Before JPII liberalized the process (and doubled the number of saints) there was a 50 year (!!!) waiting period rather than the current five. JPII, of course, also reduced the number of miracles required and the way the process operates (i.e. no devil’s advocate approach).

    There is a reason so many traditional Catholics are very nervous about this fast track, as the same man being considered for canonization is still possibly involved in the massive number of sexual scandals that rocked the Church during his pontificate. They were not good years for the Church — there is no denying that fact.

    I trust Pope Benedict XVI, but, again, it is not wrong to express serious, serious concern over any elevation of JPII while books are still open on all the scandals. For crying out loud, the Father Marcial Maciel, L.C., scandal doesn’t even have dry ink on its paperwork.

  18. St. Louis IX says:

    I will have to Pray {more} for our Holy Father Benedict XVI.
    I see another great opportunity for division in the Church. Our Holy Father`s burden must be Great.
    I wish I to were thrilled, but alas I am afraid it will have the opposite effect……..I already feel scandalized, and cannot understand those that look forward to this ?
    I will offer this up to The Sacred Heart of Jesus and hope in His Mercy

  19. ambrose says:

    Seems to me the first necessity for being considered a saint is holding the Catholic faith in its totality.
    That is where my doubts are.

  20. Wait a second. People are saying there is no longer a devil’s advocate. Can that really be true? If this process is in the nature of a trial, how can there not be a devil’s advocate (regardless of whether that name is actually used)? I thought I read somewhere that Christopher Hitchens participated in a devil’s advocate-type role with respect to the beatification process of Mother Teresa.

  21. Hmmm, yes, there is certainly “a” process in place. But the question is: how rigorous is this process, given that apparently there is no longer an advocatus diaboli to provide a truly independent “cross examination” as it were, to the evidence. The Church in her wisdom had developed a laudable circumspection and deliberation about canonization. The current “fast-tracking” of fashionable candidates is precisely what the church formerly hoped to avoid by subjecting them to more careful, deliberate consideration after years (read: decades or more) of study and consideration.
    Even then, there were (and are) prudential reasons why, even if a candidate might objectively be in heaven, it might not be suitable to elevate him to the altar. JPII was and remains a controversial figure, and one wonders whether the passage of time might not better sift out the questions concerning his suitability to be a “model” of holiness, irrespective of his personal sanctity.
    What’s the rush?

  22. Andrew says:

    I’ve often wondered why it took from 1535 to 1935 to canonize St. Thomas Moore, martyr for the faith. The man lost everything, including his head, in defense of the papacy, yet it took nearly four hundred years to officially recognize him as a saint.

  23. Hidden One says:

    When I become wiser than the Pope, I shall consider criticizing his decision. For now, I am content to trust His Holiness in this.

  24. Ad Abolendam says:

    “The judicial process to sainthood by the Roman Catholic Church has not always been the way a saint was canonized. St. Thomas Aquinas was declared a saint based on his writings alone.”

    That’s not true. Firstly, Thomas’s writings were not widely accepted even by the Dominicans until over a century after his death. Secondly, there was an investigation into St. Thomas’s life and miracles attributed to him both during his life and after his death. There’s actually an English translation of the various biographies written about Aquinas around the time of the canonization proceedings as well as some of the contents of the proceedings themselves. I read it a few months ago, but I’m blanking on the title and editor/translator.

  25. Shadow says:

    @Supertradmum: For the record, I have already received a number of significant personal graces thanks to JPII.

  26. Geoffrey says:

    “…it is not wrong to express serious, serious concern over any elevation of JPII while books are still open on all the scandals. For crying out loud, the Father Marcial Maciel, L.C., scandal doesn’t even have dry ink on its paperwork.”

    This isn’t really fair. Being holy or saintly does not imply being omniscient or omnipresent. Pope Benedict XVI briefly addressed this in “Light of the World”, referring to Fr. Maciel as a “false prophet”. He deceived everyone.

  27. PghCath says:

    Anita,

    Blessed John Paul II reformed the saint-making process with his 1983 Apostolic Constitution Divinus Perfectionis Magister. The role of “Devil’s Advocate” was abolished and the whole process was changed to make it more collegial and less adversarial – that is, less like a court. While the process looks less like a trial, the issue of proof is still central, as Fr. Z suggests. For more on the changes, see George Weigel’s bio of JPII, “Witness to Hope.”

    I’m thrilled by today’s news. John Paul II was not the best pope-administrator, and some of his earlier bishop appointments left much to be desired. But as an example of personal holiness. . . Wow.

  28. Francis says:

    So, the Devil’s Advocate is no more part of the procedure? What is the legislation on this?

    Concerning Pope St Celestine the Vth he was an ascetic and holy man, and recognised as such while he was still much alive. And he resigned the papacy. He resigned.

    Pope St Celestine pray for us!

  29. Francis says:

    And note the date: 1st May- many things come to my mind…st joseph ‘worker’, communism, kolakowski, etc.

  30. Sam Urfer says:

    Well, yeah, he resigned because he was a disaster as Pope. And was subsequently hounded to death by Pope Boniface VIII, who threw him in prison.

    St. Celestine, pray for us…

  31. Thanks be to God, it’s all I can say! My soul can’t stop dancing!

  32. Laura R. says:

    At the same time, it is not wrong to note that this fast track is extremely new. Before JPII liberalized the process (and doubled the number of saints) there was a 50 year (!!!) waiting period rather than the current five.

    I think I remember reading that the process for St. Therese of Lisieux was speeded up considerably, with the 50-year waiting period requirement waived. Does anyone know more about this case?

  33. I can’t help but think part of the cult of personality did have an influence. I’ll take any extra heavenly help I can get, I need it. Therefore, soon to be Bl John Paul II, pray for us. The one thing I’ve reminded myself is that I’m neither God, nor the Pope (nor ever want to be)…if Holy Mother Church declares someone blessed, I accept, even if I may disagree on the timetable by which it was done.

  34. Francis says:

    A disaster as Pope…let me see…rank cover up of clerical crimes, exponential liturgical abuse, decline in standards, disappearance of catholic families, dwindling church attendance, decline in parish life, persecution of Traditionalists, Assisi prayer meeting, alienation of faithful, multiplication of heresies, heresiarchs, and heretics, and sometimes protection of the same, disobedient papacy, disobedient episcopacy, disobedient clergy, disobdient laity, Assisi Prayer Meeting, etc.

    All this did not happen under Pope St Celestine, right? Nor am i saying that Charles Wojtyla was responsible for all this, yet it happened under his reign, and whatever he did, if he ever did anything, was inefficient.

  35. patrick_f says:

    One has to reason – that the process of gathering info for JP2 very well started before his death, I mean lets face it people, he suffered tremendously for about 5 years, to where it wasnt so much if, but when

    I think we need to remember that a person doesnt need to be a priest, religious, or Pope to be a saint…everyday people can and are called to sainthood – That being said, JP2′s virtuous life, speaks for itself – Papacy should NOT come into play -

  36. Leonius says:

    I understand your post father but now that it is not anyone’s actual duty to present the negative aspects of a persons life they are far less likely to be studied closely, most people in charity do not like to speak ill of the dead for fear of seeming to be uncharitable, the position of devils advocate freed a person from that restriction and made it to where they were actually expected to speak ill of the deceased person and no one would judge them as unkind for doing so.

  37. RichardT says:

    Father, you compared the process of cause of a saint to a legal process or a trial.

    But in many legal situations we say that a particular group of people cannot hear a trial, because they are too closely connected. It would therefore be unreasonable to expect them, even with the best will, to hear the case impartially – and even if they did, many people would remain unconvinced that they had.

    Usually this only applies to a small group, who cannot sit either as judge or on the jury because they are too closely connected to one of the parties to the case. But in some cases, particularly of notorious crimes, the case is heard in a completely different part of the country because it is felt that the entire local population is too closely affected or connected to hear the case.

    Is there not an equivalent with canonisation, that we cannot expect people who were so closely involved to be judges in the cause? And that must be even more the case with a former Pope, where everyone involved in the cause is likely to have been connected with him.

    Of course in a normal legal case we cannot just postpone it for 50 years, because justice demands that the case be heard, so cases are moved to a different part of the country. But in a canonisation it is far less imperative that we have a quick decision, and far more difficult to solve the problem by moving it physically. Therefore it seems that we should use delay as an equivalent of the geographic relocation of a legal case.

  38. RichardT says:

    patrick f – surely it’s ALWAYS “not if, but when”?

  39. asophist says:

    It would be great if Pope Benedict would celebrate the EF at the beatification Mass. Just think what a signal that would send!

  40. Jacob says:

    Regardless of John Paul II”s sanctity and the outcome of his pontificate, I think the entire idea of ‘fast-tracking’ saints is in and of itself wrong. The idea that those who knew would-be saints while they were alive then judging the process themselves seems to be not very impartial.

  41. Sam Urfer says:

    “It is wonderful how many serious mistakes the simple old man crowded into five short months. We have no full register of them, because his official acts were annulled by his successor. On the 18th of September he created twelve new cardinals, seven of whom were French, and the rest, with one possible exception, Neapolitans, thus paving the road to Avignon and the Great Schism. …”

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03479b.htm

    See also the Celestine Order, Spiritualist Franciscans who got their approval from the poor Pope and caused subsequent Popes many headaches: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/16020a.htm

    RichardT,

    Not that I am saying Ven. John Paul II is like St. Anthony of Padua, but the case of the later seems to be relevent here:

    “…his death was also announced to the citizens of Padua by a troop of children, crying: ‘The holy Father is dead; St. Anthony is dead!’ Gregory IX, firmly persuaded of his sanctity by the numerous miracles he had wrought, inscribed him within a year of his death (Pentecost, 30 May, 1232), in the calendar of saints of the Cathedral of Spoleto. In the Bull of canonization he declared he had personally known the saint , and we know that the same pontiff, having heard one of his sermons at Rome, and astonished at his profound knowledge of the Holy Scripture called him: ‘Ark of the Covenant’.”

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01556a.htm

    It is precisely the great saint’s cult of personality and the testimony of those who knew him (including the Pope who was in charge of the process, which went very quickly) which drove the case for canonization. What is a saint’s cult, if not a cult of personality for one in heaven?

  42. RichardT says:

    Jacob – I agree, and you said it in a much more succinct way than I managed.

    Indeed with a former Pope this seems even more important, because it will be almost impossible for many years to find people to decide on his cause who will be seen as impartial.

  43. Bornacatholic says:

    As one who has had mixed thoughts about his Papacy, and as one who knew events were moving in this direction, I decided to ask myself some questions before this day arrived;

    Are there any Doctrines/Disciplines/Precepts of the Catholic Church that I disagree with or do not understand yet accept with a humble and obedient docility?

    If not, I only believe and accept from the Church what my intellect and will has already concluded is right and just and true which is just another way of saying that I am the authority and not the Catholic Church, which is just a Confession that I am a Protestant.

    Last year The Bride and I visited The Basilica of St Peter and standing before the Tomb of Pope John Paul II I, suddenly, unexpectedly, found myself crying openly and profusely. I am still nonplussed at that unanticipated reaction.

    And so now, about a year to the day later, I am absolutely delighted to have The Catholic Church set right my misimpressions about Pope John Paul II and I will be the first to defend his Sanctity against all detractors.

    Thanks be to God for causing me to be born into a large Catholic Family in Vermont so I, a child of his age, would not have to go through this world relying upon my own VERY limited intellect and knowledge.

    Deo Gratis.

  44. albizzi says:

    I am very puzzled to see how the Church may assess purported “miraculous” healings with very different methods in the case of the very few ones she has been offered (until now) to support JPII’ beatification, and the many unexplained healings she got since one century and half through the “Bureau des Constatations” of Lourdes.
    I find this almost impossible to understand:
    In the case of Lourdes there were several hundreds of healings declared every year since 1858 but only 67 have been acknowledged until now as truly unexplainable, less than one “miracle” every two years.
    I guess that the need of a first “miracle” was urgent in the case of JPII because one had only a few of dubbious healings and the more acceptable one was taken.
    Were the same criteria as those used at Lourdes, I doubt it.
    Why such a prudence in Lourdes, why such a haste in Rome?

  45. xgenerationcatholic says:

    OK, I know JPII abolished the Devil’s Advocate, but I’m going to play it. A lot of people thought Fr. Maciel was very holy, a living saint. It seems Pope JPII was fooled by him. What if he – or someone like him – died and was canonized? It seems that with the laxing up of rules this could be a scary possibility.

  46. RichardT says:

    Another point, and another analogy with legal trials (which Fr Z based this post on):

    “Justice must not only be done; justice must also be seen to be done”

    These quick decisions risk damaging people’s belief in the process. I have just seen this article, from a writer who is generally sympathetic to Catholicism:
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/stephenhough/100050616/blessed-john-paul-ii-and-the-end-of-infallibility/
    “By rushing through the beatification of Pope John Paul II, his predecessor and friend, he has made clear how fanciful and arbitrary the whole idea and process of ‘making saints’ is”

  47. albizzi says:

    Yes, the Devil’s advocate was abolished. And this was John Paul II who did this.
    To someone who objected against the canonization of the founder of the Opus Dei, José Maria Escriva, Pope John Paul II replied: “I am the Pope and I want him to be made a saint”.
    And Escriva was canonized since nobody could oppose.

    [Apparently people haven't figured out that there are still officials in the Congregation who double-check the claims and play the role of the skeptic. Don't be distracted by the titillating title.]

  48. traditionalorganist says:

    While I agree that canonizations seem all too frequent, and the path to canonization, perhaps too easy, one might opine that there was reason for this; that is, to show a world that views sanctity as unobtainable just how obtainable it is. I might argue that John Paul II tried to lead the members of the Church towards personal Sanctity. Benedict XVI could be seen as following suit by helping the Church as a whole towards liturgical/communal/public sanctity.

  49. Joseph says:

    It is interesting to observe how the beatification of JPII serves as a flashpoint between various factions within the church. I think the liberals approve of this step because under JPII ageis’, they were allowed to run amok virtually unchallenged (at least disciplinarily), and so consider him one of their own. whereas the more traditional minded ones are a tad apprehensive about the speed of this process. They just cannot fathom, how a pope with this record of governance can be a saint at the same time.

  50. albizzi says:

    Anyway, I was told that beatifications are not infallible. Is that true, Father Zuhlsdorf?
    Why Pope John XXIII was not canonized once beatified. Any obstacle?
    Paul VI beatification cause was quickly dropped for obscure reasons.
    However they were the popes of the Council VATII which brought so beautiful fruits…

  51. robtbrown says:

    Anita Moore OPL says:

    St. Louis IX: The answer is that JPII may meet all the requirements for sainthood even if his pontificate were an unmitigated disaster.

    One of the requirements for any bishop is pastoral prudence. No bishop who lacks it can be said to be saintly. JPII was elected when the Church was in such a sad state that it would be difficult to accuse him of lacking prudence. There is also the question of his health the last 10 years of his papacy.

    Witness the case of Pope St. Celestine V. Dante, incidentally, placed this Pope in hell in his Divine Comedy; the Church held otherwise.

    Celestine was only pope for 5 mos. He had previously been a Benedictine monk and hermit, the founder of group of hermits.

  52. Ernesto Gonzalez says:

    No Catholic should believe in the process of canonization. Instead, they should believe in the Holy Spirit, the Indefectibility of the Church, and the Infallibility of the Pope. If the Venerable Pope John Paul II is not yet enjoying the splendor of the Beatific Vision, then the Holy Spirit will not permit the entire Church to fall into the error of raising him to the altar. The whole point of placing canonization in the hands of the Holy See was to remove this scruple.

    Also, we should not refer to the Venerable Pope John Paul II as blessed yet. Many things may happen between now and May 1st.

    Whether or not it is now is an opportune time to raise the late Pope to our altars is an entirely different question.

  53. Justin Martyr says:

    I’m not knowledgable enough about the sainthood process to comment on the “speed of the beatification.”

    However, I have to take issue with the repeated comments on this and other posts on this blog about the orthodoxy or Catholicity of Pope John Paul II. The man was not perfect, either as pope or as a man. But to claim that he was largely responsible for the progressive changes and rupture and division in the Church over the past 40 years is ludicrous. I made some of these same observations on an earlier post.

    Pope JPII was not responsible for the collapse of the Catholic Church, even if you find certain events like Assisi I or the excommunication of Lefebvre. I’d argue the collapse had largely already taken place in the 60’s and 70’s well before JPII being elected pope (nuns shedding their habits, widespread liturgical abuse, priests counseling married couples to ignore Church teachings on sexual issues, Catholic colleges subscribing to the Land O’Lakes movement, homosexuals and perverts entering seminaries, being ordained priests, abusing children and adolescents, having secret wives/families, etc.) Those changes took place largely and most significantly between 1965-1978. That didn’t start or even accelerate under JPII’s watch. The Barque of Peter had severe damage, was leaking, and was headed toward a collision with the rocky shore and was in danger of sinking. JPII did his best to plug the leaks, conduct makeshift repairs, and keep the ship off the rocks. All the while, many of the progressive bishops and priests on the ship with him were actively working to damage and sink her themselves.

    It could have been worse….we could still be subject in 2011 to large-scale and widespread abuses like liturgical dancing, clown/puppet masses, “song and dance” homilists, luke-warm/relativist teaching coming out of Rome on the moral and social issues of the day. Of course such abuses still exist, but they are not as widespread or widely accepted as they were 20 or 30 years ago. The number of bishops willing to tolerate such things (at least in the U.S.) is a far smaller percentage than the bishops who tolerated or even encouraged such things in the 1970’s and 1980’s. JPII and Benedict have remade the episcopacy and have greatly improved the orthodoxy and obedience of the hierarchy compared to where it was in 1975 or 1978.

    Compared to 30 years ago or so, the TLM is much more widely available and is considered more mainstream in many places in the Church. Most priests younger than 50 years old have a greater respect for Latin, for traditional devotions, for ad orientem, for “smells and bells,” for traditional architecture and art, for traditional liturgical music and chant than the priests ordained between 1960-1980 typically do. What if someone like Cardinal Carlo Maria Montini had been elected pope? What if someone even more progressive than that had been elected instead of JPII?

    By the way, who ordained Fr. Z and who was Pope when Ecclesia Dei was formed? Who put a lover of tradition and the EF like Cardinal Ratzinger in charge of CDF? Would we even have shepherds like Bishop Bruskewitz, Cardinal Burke, Archbishop Chaput, etc? All these were elevated to the episcopacy under JPII’s watch. I doubt they would have stood a chance had some much more progressive Cardinal been elected in 1978. In light of this, I don’t see how you can seriously argue he destroyed the Church more than he helped it when we literally stood on the brink of disaster in the mid to late 1970’s.

    He wasn’t perfect by any measure….but he had great personal holiness, was considered a mystic in the great mystical tradition of the Church, upheld many moral and social teachings of the Church even in the face of great opposition both inside and outside the Church. And he inspired millions of devout, faithful Catholics around the world. His intercession is apparently responsible for one confirmed miracle (and many other possible miracles). If God saw JPII in the same light you see him, how could such miracles even be possible? It could have been much worse…..JPII probably saved the Church….he didn’t destroy it.

  54. ambrose says:

    Does anyone know if the SSPX would even recognize an eventual canonization?
    I have heard they have reserve about many recent canonizations, but notably Jose Escriva.
    Seems like an unnecessary hurdle to full communion. It causes me distress even as a non SSPX guy.
    Anyone else want to move to 1950 era of Pius XII?

  55. ambrose says:

    Justin Martyr…if JPII saved the Church, I would hate to see what destroying the Church would have looked like. A little blind to the utter lose of faith and theological sanity for a 1/4 century.

  56. susanleeann says:

    sometimes i wonder if we forget that all in heaven are saints. those who have been canonized are recognized and applauded for their virtue and the example of holiness they provide. even those in purgatory are saints-in-waiting. the church’s caution in proclaiming blessedness, veneration or sainthood is useful in avoiding pre-mature declarations borne out of emotion and enthusiasm. i doubt there is advantage for us and certainly not to the “sainted” if the process is deemed as too slow by our fast-paced, instant-on, instant off internet world. it is our selfish desire for satisfaction in seeing the process evolve at the speed of light that drives this. it is good that we have our role models acclaimed saints, but we look at our motives as well.

  57. pseudomodo says:

    Beatifications do not qualify as infallible per se as the formula is not a ‘definition’. Canonizations however do qualify as they ARE definitions. The powere if the keys are used in canonizations.

    FrZ can perhaps verify as to whether a canonization qualifies as an excathedra definition?

  58. Geoffrey says:

    Justin Martyr said: “JPII probably saved the Church….he didn’t destroy it.”

    Amen to that and your entire comment!

    Ioannes Paule Magne, ora pro nobis!

  59. albinus1 says:

    Anyone else want to move to 1950 era of Pius XII?

    Count me out. I’ve always maintained that if the 1950s were really as wonderful as some people claim to remember them, then the 1960s (or at least the upheavals known as “The Sixties”)wouldn’t have happened. That goes for both the Church and for civil society.

  60. ambrose says:

    the condemned modernist of the 50s came to run the church. Pope Pius XII would have a hard time recognizing the theology of 2011.

  61. Rich says:

    When we say, “All in God’s time,” we are usually referring to something happening not as quickly as we’d like. Not so in this case.

  62. patrick_f says:

    People – Remember what a saint canonization is at its root – Its a proclamation by the Church that we are 100 percent sure the person is in front of God almighty, and beholding all His glory.

    so ask the question – Does being a bad pope, but having an awesome relationship with Jesus Christ, keep you out of heaven? I really would like someone to explain to me how this could be…. and please take into account scripture and the sacred teachings of Holy Mother Church through the ages

    Nothing we can “Do” can change that – just like nothing we can do affects ours or other’s Salvation state. All that happens here is the Church says “Yes we are sure without a doubt” ..

  63. patrick_f says:

    Also Another thing that has been pointed out ..is there have been people who are recognized saints who have gone back and forth, St Christopher comes to mind, and my Wife’s Confirmation Saint, Philomena.

  64. YoungCatholic says:

    Even though he did alot of stuff I do not like , I ‘m happy Pope John Paul II is going to be “Blessed”. I liked how he connected with the local people in his travels.

  65. paulbailes says:

    Dear Fr Z, when you say ” then in justice the decree should not be delayed” … justice to whom? I mean, it’s not as if JPII is in Purgatory waiting for the Vatican admin. processes to complete before he can enter Heaven.

    More generally, this beatification is not going to do any good to JPII; rather it’s the good of the Church (and the faithful) that needs to be considered. My fear remains that many will perceive his beatification as an endorsement of his debatable actions (and inactions) as pope, with all kinds of resulting confusion.

    Please don’t misunderstand – I hope JPII is in heaven. But I’m leery of setting up his papacy as exemplary.

    God bless
    Paul

  66. Patrick F.: Wasn’t the issue with Sts. Christopher and Philomena their existence? (And the latest archaeological evidence re Philomena indicates that the anti-Philomena crowd is all wet.) Such is not the case with JPII.

    In one of the great English-language apologetics works, Dialogue Concerning Heresies (which ought to be required reading for all Catholics), St. Thomas More deals at length with the issue of venerating as saints those who are not in fact saints. To try to boil down his arguments to one sentence, he says this: the Church does not err in canonizing saints; but even if we should mistakenly and in good faith venerate someone not worthy of it, we would suffer no detriment, because it is for the sake of God that we honor His friends (or those whom we mistakenly believe to be His friends), and so in the end, the honor goes to Him regardless.

  67. “Anyone else want to move to 1950 era of Pius XII?”

    No way! Not if I knew what would transpire in the coming decades. It would have broken my heart. While we still have a long way to go, at least the 70s and 80s are behind us and things are generally improving. As my calculus professor would say, the slope has just changed from negative to positive. In calculus this is called a “critical point.” I think this applies to the Church as well.

  68. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Is it fruitful to cast out minds back to the Pontificate of Alexander III, during which the Lateran Council of 1179 declared the right of canonization as belonging to the Holy See alone? In 1174, Pope Alexander had already canonized Thomas of Canterbury Saint – four years after his martyrdom. Interestingly, Saint Charlemagne, canonized by the anti-pope Paschal III was – what is the technical term? – may one say ‘transposed’? – to a Beatus, as which he is still honoured today (26 January, in fact, notably in Aachen).

  69. Andrew says:

    Thank you Fr Z, for going to this trouble to explain why the “fast tracking” of this beatification, does not mean that it was any less thorough.

    John Paul II was so widely known after his death in 2005, and there was a strong belief in his sanctity already (except from some of the curmudgeons I see here and on Rorate Coeli).

    It stands to reason then, that a lot of people would have implored him regarding their necessities. Is it any wonder that the signs started almost immediately?

    Last year on the anniversary of John Paul’s death, a miracle took place at his tomb, with a Polish boy walking out of his wheelchair. There are other stories like this, as well.

    What I find sad is that instead of rejoicing in God’s providential care for souls who pray to Him (through the intercession of somebody) people always want to find holes in this, in spite of the Church’s rigorous procedures, which Fr Z has outlined for us here.

    Some people also don’t seem to get the message that the conferring of beatification or canonization, is not an approval of everything the person did, but an appreciation that the person followed Christ to the degree of heroism.

    As I said on a previous post, one extraordinary way that was manifested was the Holy Father forgiving his attempted assassin Mehmet Ali Agca, and actually visiting him in his prison cell, and embracing him. (I know of no other example, of somebody who has displayed such extraordinary forgiveness!)

    This is what sainthood is. Not just repeating what Christ said, but putting the ideals into practice.

  70. paulbailes says:

    Dear Andrew

    If you read what those of us who have reservations about the JPII beatification are writing, you will find that we do “get the message that the conferring of beatification or canonization, is not an approval of everything the person did”.

    However, throwing names (“curmudgeon”) at only reinforces the fear that the JPII cult, with its “Santo Subito” frenzy, is not totally healthy.

    Cheers
    Paul

  71. Bear says:

    As Mother Teresa once remarked. God does not expect success from us, but rather faithfulness. From that perspective Pope JPII cannot be criticized.
    Secondly, for those of us who agreed with the signs at the Papal Funeral stating “Santo Subito” all we can say is “what took you so long????”
    Our family has been praying to Pope John Paul II (and Pope Pius XII) for many a year now. Sometimes it takes the Church a while to catch up to the Sensum Fideii (refer to the Theotokos issue back in the day).

  72. Andrew says:

    Paul,

    I apologize if by the use of the word “curmudgeon” I have unfairly tarnished anyone who has a legitimate concern, that the process of beatification here, has been unwisely hastened.

    Perhaps I misunderstand the criticisms.

    What I find frustrating is that in spite of the efforts of Fr Z and others, that the procedures adopted by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints are extremely thorough and rigorous, people still find the necessity to criticize what Pope Benedict has done here, instead of being joyful that such a wonderful servant of God, is being honoured for his love for Him.

    If I understand you correctly Paul, you are not saying that John Paul isn’t a saint, you just feel there was no need to fast track the process. I thought from reading what others have said, they bring up a whole lot of issues that they don’t agree with about Wojtyla, ie not handling the priestly sex abuse crisis adequately, Assisi, appointment of bad bishops, discipling Lefebvre harshly but having as a friend Fr Marciel etc,

    I thought the criticisms of individuals there was that to raise John Paul to the altars whether now, or 50 years from now say, was a mistake regardless, and the issue of its haste, is irrelevant.

    And I think your concern is that Wojtyla’s perceived sainthood is not because of an appreciation of these qualities in him, but a “personality cult” similar to the adulation a movie or rock star receives.

    There may be some truth to the latter. But I did once read Paul somewhere that the conferring of sainthood is very much a grass roots process, coming from the bottom up, than the top down, so I guess there will always be some adulation, if not always well founded.

    As I understand it, there was an extremely widespread belief in the sanctity of this man, Karol Woytla, illustrated most poignantly at his funeral, when the crowd spontaneously erupted into cries of SANTO SUBITO. Because he was known by just about everyone, the Church felt it could waive the five year waiting period, because of these very special circumstances. Perhaps that decision IS open to criticism I grant, but that does not mean that the Church won’t be rigorous in its investigation.

    My concern is now that the Church has done the investigation and received miraculous evidence of John Paul’s sanctity (Sr Marie Simon-Pierre’s miracle was not the only one), instead of being joyful about this for its own sake there are some who seem more akin to secular journalists, than people who have a Catholic faith, and believe in the supernatural life.

    Hey, if a miracle has been worked, that means somebody has orchestrated this from upstairs. And if these signs happened immediately instead of time has passed, that is evidence that a lot of people were praying to late Holy Father.

    Shortly after John Paul died, a friend of mine asked me to pray a novena to him, for his sick mother. She didn’t survive, but that is not the point. (I am sure that story is a microcosm that could be multiplied infinitessimally!) It is that John Paul HAS BEEN A VERY BUSY INTERCESSOR BEFORE THE THRONE OF GOD, and these are the reasons for these signs.

    Many spiritual writers attribute the present day crisis in the Church to the dissent that followed in the wake of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae, by Paul VI. It was Wojtyla’s book, Love and Resposibility (particularly its personalist arguments that contraception is contrary to human dignity which found its way into the encyclical) that had more of an impact on Paul, than the whole of the Papal Commission on Human Reproduction.

    I think the finger of God was pointing to this Slavic man, for a long time.

  73. Lori Pieper says:

    Sam Urfer writes,

    “…his death was also announced to the citizens of Padua by a troop of children, crying: ‘The holy Father is dead; St. Anthony is dead!’ Gregory IX, firmly persuaded of his sanctity by the numerous miracles he had wrought, inscribed him within a year of his death (Pentecost, 30 May, 1232), in the calendar of saints of the Cathedral of Spoleto. In the Bull of canonization he declared he had personally known the saint , and we know that the same pontiff, having heard one of his sermons at Rome, and astonished at his profound knowledge of the Holy Scripture called him: ‘Ark of the Covenant’.”

    You beat me to the punch there with St. Anthony! I would have posted the same thing. Other saints canonized around the same time: St. Francis of Assisi (canonized 1228, about 18 months after his death, also by Gregory IX, who again knew him personally) and St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1235, about 3 1/2 years after her death, also by Gregory IX). There was no 50-year waiting period back then, as the whole idea of a juridical process of canonization was just getting started. Also they hadn’t even come up with the whole idea of the Devil’s Advocate yet. So I’m sure people will consider the sanctity of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua and St. Elizabeth of Hungary really suspect as a result. . . Right?

    These saints may have been “fast-tracked” at the time – given the newness of the whole thing, it’s hard to tell. But thank God if they were. I believe that in the Providence of God, we will one day see that John Paul II is being beatified at the right time.

  74. kat says:

    I have a question for someone if anyone is very familiar with how the “causes” work, especially the miracles:

    How does the Church determine it was by “this saint” that a cure or miracle occurred?

    For instance, I know in the past when Fr. Z has asked us to pray for someone with cancer, etc. and there was someone in particular people were hoping we would pray to, not only to cure the woman with cancer but to help the cause of that person’s sainthood, Father would often emphasize to pray specifically to “that” person so the miracle could be attributed. But how does that determination in the end get made? Let’s say someone is cured of cancer and it is obviously unexpected and miraculous. One person, even the sick person, may have been praying, let’s say to John Paul II; but another person may have been praying to Our Lady of Lourdes, or a great Saint already canonized, or even to another holy person people hope will be canonized. How does the Church determine if it was through John Paul’s, or Our Lady of Lourdes’, or another person’s intercession specifically?’

    (I’m very interested in the answer to this question–that’s all! Please don’t read into it anything else, because I have no other intent , etc!!)

  75. Andrew says:

    Very well said, Lori.

  76. Lori Pieper says:

    Another thing that Fr. didn’t really speak about is why a cause is sometimes delayed, even for a long time. Often it has nothing to do with the sanctity of a person, just insider politics and all sorts of other reasons.

    Sometimes trouble arises from a question of jurisdiction or a fight between dioceses; see the recent controversy between Peoria and New York over Bishop Sheen’s cause.

    Another that I know a lot about from the inside is the cause of Pope John Paul I. Many people don’t realize it, but there was huge public sentiment in favor of his canonization at the time of his death; even OR was hinting that canonization was in order. Later on, many petitions came to Rome, including one by the entire episcopate of Brazil. His successor was a personal friend of his — and who fast-tracked a lot of causes. Most of the people who knew Albino Luciani for many years say that they consider him a saint. So does our present Pope, who also knew him. So why wasn’t he fast-tracked? It took from 1978 to 2002 — almost 25 years — for his cause to get started.

    There were a number of reasons, including jurisdiction. A person’s cause is supposed to be started in the diocese he dies in; JPI died in Rome; but he lived there for only a month at the end of his life, and to tell the truth, he did not have that many supporters in Rome; many members of the Curia just resented his non-curial style and his simple speeches; then too, some people who were considered the “real” candidates didn’t get elected because of him. Plus, he died very inconveniently. And then there were all the rumors about his death, which were picked up and magnified by David Yallop and a ton of other authors, determined to implicate the Vatican in his death; starting a process for him would stir up that whole hornet’s nest again.

    I believe that JPII truly desired from the beginning to start his predecessor’s canonization process, but was perhaps just waiting for a better time, which didn’t come. The process, of course, could have been moved to another diocese he lived in — but which of the three dioceses should it be? Venice, where he was patriarch from 1969 to 1978? Insiders there say that there was huge opposition from the dissident clergy there, who considered Luciani “much too harsh,” i.e. too orthodox, during his stay there. I’m not sure why they didn’t choose Vittorio Veneto, where he was first a bishop, but maybe it was just the “middle child” who got overlooked. Finally in 2002, I’m told, JPII told the bishop of Belluno, the diocese of Luciani’s birth, “you should do it,” so they did; the approval for the diocesan phase of the process was signed in 2002 or 2003. It got finished in 3 years and is now in Rome. The diocesan process on the miracle has been finished and brought to Rome as well. It all got done in short order once it got started. But it had to get started first. This is only one example.

    But in the end I believe JPI will be beatified when the time is right. It would have been wonderful if he could have been beatified at the same time as his successor and namesake — but things rarely happen when we want, but when God thinks best.

  77. paulbailes says:

    Thanks Andrew for kind and thoughtful reply … apologies for delayed response, have now to go out and help with post-flood restoration work here in Brisbane.

    God bless
    Paul

  78. Andrew says:

    Paul,

    Did you know I come from Australia? Yes, I heard on the radio this morning about all the thousands of volunteers that have voluntarily come forward, to help with the extraordinary restoration, that will take some months, after the floods.

    By the way, I am coming to Brisbane in early February for about 10-14 days. This is my email address, andrew.rabel@gmail.com if you would like to continue the discussion.

    Best of luck with the clean up. My heart goes out to all the victims.

  79. catholicmidwest says:

    “Whether John Paul II is a saint or not I fear the Church declaring him such will do more harm than good given that it seems to many that the decision to declare him a saint was already made years ago which brings the whole new canonization process into disrepute. ”

    Agree. I will probably never be able to get over the “kissing the Koran” thing. And the liturgy business. There were other things but those were the worst. I know that being beatified isn’t about leadership; it’s not about intellectual prowess or even competence; but I just can’t get past the 25 years of sheer stultifying “hold” that was his papacy. We were basically put on ice until further notice.

    When people say “PJP the Great,” it always runs through my head, “PJP the Great WHAT?” Globalist? Showman? Celebrity? I don’t get it.

    And now I sort of doubt the whole saint-making thing. Now, I wonder how many times this has happened before.

  80. catholicmidwest says:

    But in the end I believe JPI will be beatified when the time is right. WHY?????????

    Oh please spare us. This is getting silly, now.

  81. catholicmidwest: That’s enough.

  82. MariaD says:

    I find it interesting that certain people have a problem with rapid beatifications/canonizations. Back in the Middle Ages, it was not uncommon for popular saints to be canonized within a remarkably short time. St. Francis of Assisi, for example, was canonized within two years!

    As for the great number of beatifications and canonizations, I am pleased and edified. Sainthood is supposed to be attainable; otherwise, why are we all called to be perfect as our Heavenly Father? Sometimes I think this idea that only a few should be canonized is an expression of the subconscious belief that sainthood consists in extraordinary spiritual gifts.

    Perhaps this attitude that saints is partly a result of the pattern of past canonizations. Have you ever noticed how many of the canonized saints of old days were extraordinary people with extraordinary lifestyles, gifts, and miracles? But are they imitable? Look at St. Rose of Lima; she did things that would be considered sinful for us ordinary people to do. And yet, sanctity is for all of us, right?

    The Church has always taught that sainthood does not consist in extraordinary things but in the daily surrender to God in the ordinary things of life. John Paul II and Benedict XVI are reminding us that saints really are to be found among the ordinary people and that it is actually to this type of sainthood that most of us are called.

  83. JonM says:

    Comparing Pope St. Celestine to Pope John Paul II is a classic apples to oranges situation. But, if we go with it and say ‘Well, this Pope was a terrible office holder, so it’s okay!’ that is not a very compelling argument.

    But of course as others have pointed out, Pope Celestine served as Pontiff for a mere five months. A bit different than nearly three decades on the Chair of St. Peter. He humbly acknowledged his difficulty as a manager and resigned. I should note that it is not conclusive that Dante put St. Celestine in hell; there are others who could fit the description.

    Another asked this question and it has been unanswered: Are Beatifications infallible declarations that a person is in heaven?

  84. Geoffrey says:

    “When people say ‘PJP the Great,’ it always runs through my head, ‘PJP the Great WHAT?’ Globalist? Showman? Celebrity? I don’t get it. ”

    Pope John Paul the Great… POPE! :-o

  85. Stephen Matthew says:

    I for my part have no trouble with the idea that John Paul II was saved.

    I may take issue with many other things said about him, both positive and negative, but I have no real basis for objecting to the idea he is saved.

    I don’t see anyone else making such an objection either.

    If you think Pope John Paul II is in hell, you should get in touch with the Vatican and lay out the case for his eternal damnation. If you want to play devil’s advocate, than you should in fact do just that. Make your case and present it to those competent in such matters. I, nor any other on this blog, am such an authority, thus please don’t present it to me. (If for no other reason than I am the sort that has severe difficulty in completely shaking any doubts once a reasonable case is made to me. Even doctrines and dogmas I hold and understand can cause me difficulty for days or weeks after someone casts doubt on them, with lingering whispers in dark moments for months or years.)

  86. The point of bringing up St. Celestine V was not to compare his reign with that of John Paul II; it was to point out that any mistakes John Paul II made as Pope do not necessarily disqualify him for sainthood. The real issue is his personal holiness.

    That this is true becomes evident when you consider the polar opposite cases of Celestine V and Alexander VI. As Pope, Celestine made mistakes on a scale out of all proportion to the length of his reign; but this is far outweighed by his personal holiness, and so he is venerated as a saint. On the other hand, Alexander VI had considerable abilities as Pope, at least from a political and administrative point of view; yet we are left merely hoping that he made his peace with God before he died. Nobody would think of venerating Alexander VI as a saint, because, in spite of his skills in governance, he led a life of open and notorious scandal, even as Pope.

    So the bottom line is: JPII’s personal holiness and heroic virtue are what count here. True, there are things he did as Pope that I wish he hadn’t done, and things he did not do that I wish he had done. And I have my favorite pending causes for sainthood that I wish would be brought to a happy conclusion sooner (Ven. Pius XII and Bl. Margaret of Castello, to name a couple); but greater minds and higher authority than mine have decreed otherwise. Be it so.

    Miss A., O.P.

  87. Aaron B. says:

    When people say he should be canonized for his personal sanctity while keeping his papacy a separate issue, it makes me think of people who say Pete Rose should be put in the Hall of Fame, but with an asterisk that says “except for that bad gambling stuff.” So we canonize John Paul II, but with an asterisk that says, “except for X, Y, and Z”? I’m not sure you can do that. We might all know today that it’s his personal holiness that’s being held up for imitation, but 50, 500, 5000 years from now, people won’t parse out his life like that, anymore than we do with ancient saints. We take their lives, actions, and writings as a whole, and hold the whole life up as an example to be followed.

    Look at it this way: St. Francis was most certainly a very holy man, and did an incredible amount of good for the Church. But if we had a photo of St. Francis kissing the Koran, think of the confusion that would cause for Catholics, the ways it would be used by modernists to promote false ecumenicism. No one would say, “Well, yeah, but that’s not what he was canonized for; he’s a saint because of his personal holiness, founding the Franciscans, etc.” It would be fair game as part of the whole of his life. If we canonize someone, I think we have to accept that his whole life (after conversion, in some cases, of course) is getting that designation, for better or worse. And if we’re going to be calling him “Pope Saint….” we have to assume that people will hold him up as a saintly example of a pope, not just of a man. If we want to hedge and say “except for….” then we probably ought to put it on the shelf for a while.

    The truth is we don’t know how the life of Pope John Paul II will be seen in hindsight, because we aren’t there yet. No matter how much documentation you have or how large a team you have to pore over it, the one thing you can’t buy or speed up through hard work is the objectivity that only the distance of time can give you. “Hindsight is 20/20″ isn’t just a saying, it’s the law. Fifty years from now, regardless of whether a single new document or fact has surfaced to be studied, we would have a much better idea what a “Pope Saint John Paul” entry in a book of saints will look like. Today, the most anyone can do is guess and hope for the best.

    Of course, this is beatification, not canonization. I can’t help wondering if the next phase will go more slowly. In the case of Blessed Teresa, it seems like her beatification satisfied a lot of people — maybe they didn’t really know the difference — and now the process for her canonization is proceeding much more quietly, without constant shouting from the gallery by everyone from her devotees to Christopher Hitchens. That may happen here too. And it probably should, since most theologians consider canonization to be infallible.

  88. Andrew says:

    John Paul II was a saint, no question about it.

  89. robtbrown says:

    Anita Moore OPL says:

    The point of bringing up St. Celestine V was not to compare his reign with that of John Paul II; it was to point out that any mistakes John Paul II made as Pope do not necessarily disqualify him for sainthood. The real issue is his personal holiness.

    I realize that, but the objection to Celestine is usually grounded in his resignation.

    Personal holiness cannot be separated from a man’s performance as a bishop, simply because of pastoral prudence. Imprudence is an indication against heroic virtue.

    Re certain comments of others:

    1. It has been my experience that those opposed to JPII have forgotten (or were never aware of) how bad the conditions were in the Church when he was elected. Very important to the US was that he quickly replaced the nunzio, which, among other things, prevented the Bernardin candidate from becoming Abp in New York.

    2. Although certain legitimate objections can be made against his papacy being too concerned with int’l politics and not proceeding with reforming the Church, nevertheless, much was accomplished, esp in his first 1 years.

    3. As Fr Z noted, the process for canonization does not obligate the pope. If a decree is issued, he is able simply to set it aside. If there has been no decree (cf Fra Angelico and Bl Duns Scotus), the pope can nevertheless proceed.

    4. Although the adv0catus diaboli has been eliminated, negative testimony against someone’s process still exists. For example, when the cause of Paul VI was opened, within a week some cardinals arrived at the Congregation to give evidence against his cause.

  90. Jason Keener says:

    Like many of you, there are certain aspects of Pope John Paul II’s papacy that I am still very disappointed with. If we are being honest, however, I don’t think we can say the papacy was a total loss. Here are some good things about Pope John Paul II’s papacy:

    1. He basically closed down discussion about the possibility of women’s ordination.
    2. His “Theology of the Body” seems to be an authentic development of doctrine in the area of sexuality and marriage explaining that marriage is understood as not simply a contract, but a true exchange of persons in reflection of the Holy Trinity.
    3. His “Veritas Splendor” helped to clear up some of the confusion in the area of moral theology.
    4. His new “Catechism of the Catholic Church” has been a general help to the cause of religious education.
    5. He did help end Communism, an evil his predecessors had battled for a long time.
    6. His personal example and even his enormous popularity seem to have had some good effect. I know of many young Catholic laypeople and priests who believe that the example of Pope John Paul II contributed to their current love of the Faith. Some of these young people that I know have now fallen in love with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. I can credit my own interest in the Faith in some ways to the example of Pope John Paul II. The Church continues to move towards more traditional things again, but I think Pope John Paul II met the Church where it was at. It takes a long time to sort out the confusion after an ecumenical council.
    7. He was a firece opponent of abortion, one of the greatest evils of our time.
    8. His patient acceptance of physical suffering was a great example that every person is to take up their cross.
    9. His shedding of blood in an assasination attempt was another great witness of Christian love and courage.

    As for the Koran Kissing episode, I don’t know if we can be entirely sure that the Pope knew what he was kissing or if he just did it without reflection in an attempt to be courteous. All people do foolish things from time to time. Moreover, I don’t think we can question the personal holiness of Pope John Paul II and that he did the best that he could do in his years as the Supreme Pontiff. It is difficult to expect that one man of ill-health is going to do the job perfectly when there are so many things to consider and so many enemies to outmaneuver.

    Finally, if we are not happy about what the late Pope all left undone, we can pray for his intercession that those things will now be corrected.

    (P.S. We can proably also rejoice in the fact that many people will see the beatification of Pope John Paul II as another blow to the ideas of the Sister Joan Chittisters and Father Richard McBriens of the world. That is another good thing!)

  91. Summers says:

    “(P.S. We can proably also rejoice in the fact that many people will see the beatification of Pope John Paul II as another blow to the ideas of the Sister Joan Chittisters and Father Richard McBriens of the world. That is another good thing!)”

    This is a good point Jason. I am sure many “traditional Catholics” never would have imagined that that one day they would be on the same side as many severe “liberal Catholics.”

  92. Geoffrey says:

    I am so tired of “traddies” bringing up the kissing the Koran episode. I never hear anyone mention it except them. I never heard false ecumenists bring it up! I never hear orthodox Catholics express their confusion over whether Islam is the truth or not!

    Kissing a gift when receiving it is a European custom; I am curious if any non-Americans make a big deal about this incident? Nevertheless, did anyone happen to re-watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” this past Christmas? Recall the scene where the Martin family (an Italian family) move to their new home and are given gifts. The husband and wife kiss each item and make the sign of the cross when they receive it.

    Ven. John Paul the Great was not a “closet” Muslim, nor did kissing the Koran created confusion in anyone but the “traddies”, who find everything the great pope did “confusing”.

  93. Supertradmum says:

    Found this on EWTN:
    O Holy Trinity,
    we thank you for having given to the Church
    Pope John Paul II,
    and for having made him shine with your fatherly tenderness,
    the glory of the Cross of Christ and the splendor of the Spirit of love

    He, trusting completely in your infinite mercy
    and in the maternal intercession of Mary, has shown himself
    in the likeness of Jesus the Good Shepherd
    and has pointed out to us holiness
    as the path to reach eternal communion with You.

    Grant us, through his intercession,
    according to your will, the grace that we implore,
    in the hope that he will soon be numbered among your saints.
    Amen

  94. Aaron B. says:

    For what it’s worth, though I personally think a Pope Saint John Paul II is problematic, and think the waiting period should go back to 50 years or more, I do agree with Jason’s nine points above (with the exception of #4; I don’t think much of the new catechism). I’d even add one:

    10. Many, many younger priests, including traditional ones, will tell you that John Paul was a major inspiration in their vocational discernment. These men saw something in him that they wanted to emulate, and it wasn’t the sometimes worrisome ecumenism or the global politics; it was his life of service and prayer, devotion to Our Lady, and desire to serve God. It’s hard to even know at this point how important his example was to the turnaround in vocations.

    And #11: I’ve read stories by exorcists saying they’ve called on him to help dispel demons, and he does. That seems pretty good proof to me that he’s in heaven. (Though being in heaven isn’t enough to justify canonizing someone as an example for all future generations, of course.)

    I don’t think his personal holiness is at issue; just some of his actions or non-actions. I don’t think anyone says, “He didn’t fix all the problems that were laid at his doorstep, so he can’t be a saint.” It’s more, “He didn’t try to fix this problem, and may have worsened that other problem.” Reasonable people can argue those back and forth, but it takes time and objectivity that’s hard to have yet. As for whether he knew what he was kissing, or how much his illness affected his job performance in his final years (for instance, there’s a theory that he didn’t write the document on the Rosary that suggests a grab-bag of innovations including the luminous mysteries, because it never even mentions the Fatima prayer, a strange omission for such a great devotee of Our Lady of Fatima) — well, those are the kinds of things that must be thoroughly researched. I hope they have been.

    Some of the naysayers (including me) are simply reacting to the fact that this has felt like a done-deal from the start. He hasn’t been beatified yet, but we’ve already had medals and holy cards with his image on them for years. What to do with all that if it doesn’t happen? All that creates pressure, so it’s natural to worry that it could affect the process.

  95. Summers says:

    Aaron,
    I think you have made good and fair points. As much as I love John Paul II, I too can see that some of the praise towards him since his death has bordered on “fan-club” type devotion.

    I personally can say that I appreciate him and his life. I have read his biographies. I have read his encyclicals. His story is a tremendous account of courage and steadfast devotion to the Faith, to God and Our Lady. Would it were I had his unwavering faith and love in God, the Catholic Church, and humanity but sadly that has not always been the case with me. Mea culpa. But it is people like JPII and those saints he canonized (so many! Yes, Thank God so many!) that I look to emulate, because they were REAL people just like me, different only in circumstances and geographic location, while always trying to imitate the mind and heart of Christ. That’s all I know…but that’s enough…for now.

  96. Creary says:

    robtbrown says:
    15 January 2011 at 11:03 am

    Personal holiness cannot be separated from a man’s performance as a bishop, simply because of pastoral prudence. Imprudence is an indication against heroic virtue.

    More support for robtbrown’s statement comes from An  Essay  on  Beatification, Canonization, and  the  Process  of  the  Congregation   of  Rites,  by  Fr.  F.W.  Faber.  Published  by Richardson  and  Son,  London,  1848.

    “But to go a little more into this scrutiny about relative duties; with ecclesiastics a most important inquiry instituted by the Congregation regards their obtaining Church preferment, their reluctance to accept it, their humility in the discharge of its duties, and the like. If the servant of God held high dignity, a complete stand is made till the postulators show his freedom from ambition, nay, his aversion to the promotion, and his acceptance only in virtue of holy obedience. […]

    But, at the risk of being tedious, in order to prove the solicitude with which the Church exacts a virtuous discharge of relative duties from those who are to be raised upon her altars by the solemnity of canonization, let us bring together a few details, which will be found full of interest, and capable of throwing great light upon the whole of our present subject. If the servant of God, whose cause is under consideration, has been sovereign pontiff, then, independent of the examination his life undergoes as a bishop and as a secular prince, particular attention is paid to such points as the following: whether he has bestowed too much time on politics and secular cares, whether he has practiced meditation, sought to advance in humility, bestowed dignities, especially the cardinalate, upon worthy and “reluctant” persons, whether he has been energetic in forwarding foreign missions, in watching jealously over ecclesiastical discipline, and defending the rights of the Holy See, and whether in his court and personal deportment there has been more of the emperor than the pope.” (pgs 49-50, 51-52)

    So the “mistakes John Paul II made as Pope do not necessarily disqualify him for sainthood” argument doesn’t seem to carry much weight.

  97. robtbrown says:

    Jason Keener says:
    2. His “Theology of the Body” seems to be an authentic development of doctrine in the area of sexuality and marriage explaining that marriage is understood as not simply a contract, but a true exchange of persons in reflection of the Holy Trinity.

    Development of doctrine produces something new. What was new in the Theology of the Body?

  98. robtbrown says:

    Stephen Matthew says:
    I for my part have no trouble with the idea that John Paul II was saved.
    I may take issue with many other things said about him, both positive and negative, but I have no real basis for objecting to the idea he is saved.
    I don’t see anyone else making such an objection either.
    If you think Pope John Paul II is in hell, you should get in touch with the Vatican and lay out the case for his eternal damnation.

    Did you forget about the third possibility–Purgatory?

  99. CatholicMD says:

    By reading a majority of the posts here you would think Pope John Paul II’s biography read: elected Pope in 1978, kissed a Koran, worshiped with pagans in Assisi, died in 2005.

  100. Stephen Matthew says:

    robtbrown,

    No I did not forget about purgatory.

    If I had to offer my opinion I would say it is certainly possible that his personal holiness and the bearing of his long decline and eventual final illness in a way that united his suffering to the cross may very well have filled whatever need there was for purgation.

    I am open to the possibility he took the express lane to heaven, or that he may have spent a bit of time in pit row on the way.

    The third possibility, however, I do not entertain.

    I know when we say someone is a saint we mean they are in heaven. Does declaring them a saint require declaring infallibily that they went directly there with no experience of purgatory?

  101. Geoffrey says:

    “Another responsibility that certainly forms part of a pastor’s role is admonition. I think that in this regard I did too little. There is always a problem in achieving a balance between authority and service. Maybe I should have been more assertive. I think this is partly a matter of my temperament. Yet it could also be related to the will of Christ, who asked His Apostles not to dominate but to serve.
    Obviously a bishop has authority, but much depends on the way he exercises it. If a bishop stresses his authority too much, then the people think all he can do is issue commands. On the other hand, if he adopts an attitude of service, the faithful spontaneously tend to listen to him and willingly submit to his authority. So a certain balance is needed.
    I do think, though, that despite my reluctance to rebuke others, I made all the necessary decisions” (Pope John Paul II, “Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way”, pp. 49-50).

  102. Jason Keener says:

    robtbrown,

    Before the Council, it was common to speak about marriage primarily as an exchange of rights. Pope John Paul II helped to explain more fully how marriage is not just an exchange of rights, but an exchange of persons in reflection of the Trinity. Theology of the Body builds upon “Humane Vitae” and helps us to further understand why contraception, homosexuality, etc., are immoral and why marital sex is so beautiful. It seems that JP2′s explanation was new insofar as it was the most detailed look at Theology of the Body that had been presented up until that point in Church history.

    Moreover, just because something in theology appears to be somewhat novel, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Even the great Thomas Aquinas was condemned by people within the Church for at first appearing too novel. After all, how scandalous that Aquinas would attempt to “baptize” the thought of a pagan philosopher like Aristotle! God’s revelation has been definitively and fully made, but that does not mean that we have fully appreciated or understood every nuance to it—hence, the legitimacy of doctrinal development. Doctrinal development reflects our growing understanding of what God has revealed to us.

    Perhaps you could share why Theology of the Body is not an authentic development of doctrine or what point you are trying to make with your comment about the newness of Theology of the Body.

  103. robtbrown says:

    kat says:

    How does the Church determine it was by “this saint” that a cure or miracle occurred?

    Because there had been prayers for the would-be saint’s intercession.

  104. Fr_Sotelo says:

    robtbrown: You said, “1. It has been my experience that those opposed to JPII have forgotten (or were never aware of) how bad the conditions were in the Church when he was elected.” I could not agree with you more. And besides our internal problems, the Catholic Church was pretty much treated by the media and powers that be as a “has been” and a quaint relic of with no influence or importance to speak of. Pope John Paul II interjected himself and the Church with him full force back into the public square. Those who were singing the Church’s requiem had to stop and say, “not so fast.”

  105. Tony Layne says:

    Aaron:

    I too think you’ve made some pretty fair points—a lot more fair than some others. And I’ll agree that we’re all pretty much too close in time to his pontificate to make a complete assessment; who knows what the next fifty years will reveal?

    I never directly experienced JP2′s charisma; my respect and admiration for him has only grown within the last eight or nine years, and almost exclusively through reading. Nevertheless, I’m suspicious about the ease with which the term “personality cult” is thrown about, as if we were talking about the lickspittle lackeys of some petty Third-World dictator; it smacks too much of envy and spite. Comparisons to rock stars are off-base, but not in the same way; they fundamentally misrepresent the nature of his appeal (authentic goodness and holiness, versus raw sexuality).

    Unfortunately, in some cases, the charges have been, “The nuns didn’t put back on their habits and Mass attendance didn’t immediately snap back to pre-1968 levels; therefore his pontificate was a disaster and he wasn’t a saint.” The vast bulk of JP2′s pontificate was spent trying to overcome the inertial energy of the rippling cultural and social changes in the wake of the 1960s, a daunting task even for a large government, let alone one man in a tiny Italian city-state; the problems weren’t (and aren’t) just inside the Church but outside it as well. Large cultures don’t turn on a dime; consider how long it took the US to get from the 13th Amendment to the Civil Rights Act, and from the Civil Rights Act to an African-American President! (So okay, he’s not all that; my point is not that he’s a good President but that he’s President to begin with.) If any person in the Church could have prevented the downslide—a contention I don’t buy—it would have been Paul VI; however, I can’t find it in my heart to blame even him.

    If I were to reach for a metaphor, I would say JP2 was the front-line surgeon who does the “meatball surgery” to get the wounded soldier stable for transport back to the rear-echelon hospital. He could have done more, but that “more” could also have done worse damage through over-correction, like a sixteen-year-old driving on snow for the first time. We’re still playing “Monday morning quarterback” here; let’s let the final judgment on his pontificate wait for another hundred years.

    As for his prudence: Correct me if I’m wrong, Father Z, but does the mandate for “heroic virtue” require the Servant of God to possess every cardinal virtue in heroic degree? Or can he score 10′s on three of them and 8 on the fourth? The antonym of “prudent” is “rash” (as in “rash judgment”), which is the last word I’d think of to describe Papa Wojtyla’s reign.

    So I’m willing to wait for time to pass before calling his reign “good” or “bad”, though I suspect the verdict will be that he was the right man at the right time. As far as his personal sanctity goes, I’m happy to see him beatified, and look forward to his canonization. In five years or fifty years.

  106. robtbrown says:

    Jason Keener says:

    Before the Council, it was common to speak about marriage primarily as an exchange of rights. Pope John Paul II helped to explain more fully how marriage is not just an exchange of rights, but an exchange of persons in reflection of the Trinity. Theology of the Body builds upon “Humane Vitae” and helps us to further understand why contraception, homosexuality, etc., are immoral and why marital sex is so beautiful. It seems that JP2?s explanation was new insofar as it was the most detailed look at Theology of the Body that had been presented up until that point in Church history.

    JPII’s theology of the body is a commentary on existing doctrine. It might be a new commentary on doctrine, but it’s not new doctrine.

    Moreover, just because something in theology appears to be somewhat novel, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Even the great Thomas Aquinas was condemned by people within the Church for at first appearing too novel. After all, how scandalous that Aquinas would attempt to “baptize” the thought of a pagan philosopher like Aristotle! God’s revelation has been definitively and fully made, but that does not mean that we have fully appreciated or understood every nuance to it—hence, the legitimacy of doctrinal development. Doctrinal development reflects our growing understanding of what God has revealed to us.

    It is a popular mistake to think that the objection to St Thomas in the 13the century was because he used Aristotle, who was a pagan. After all, Plato (also a pagan) had influenced Catholic thought for hundreds of years. IMHO, this error was propagated by Progressives, who were trying to justify using Marxist concepts in Christian theology.

    The objection to St Thomas was based on a) the Mendicant controversy in Paris (a fairly interesting topic), and b) the mistaken idea that he was a radical Aristotelian like Siger of Brabant or some of the Arabic commentators (Averroes or Avicena).

    Perhaps you could share why Theology of the Body is not an authentic development of doctrine or what point you are trying to make with your comment about the newness of Theology of the Body.

    See above.

  107. Geoffrey says:

    “I know when we say someone is a saint we mean they are in heaven. Does declaring them a saint require declaring infallibily that they went directly there with no experience of purgatory?”

    I have never heard of this, so I don’t think so.

    It is worth bearing in mind that Ven. John Paul the Great faithfully wore the Brown Scapular (there is a famous photo of him working in his youth and you can see it). So, let us not forget the ‘Sabbatine Privilege’… and the great pontiff died on a Saturday. I recall Mother Angelica once musing what would happen if you died on a Saturday; would that be a quick “in and out” of Purgatory?

  108. JonM says:

    While we still have a long way to go, at least the 70s and 80s are behind us and things are generally improving.

    Respectfully, I think this is precisely the distinction defining this argument, at least amongst those who make the Church more than a remote cultural artifact.

    The trajectory, objectively, is and has been bad. Very bad.

    Actual bare bones practice of the faith has been trending down over the past decades and seems to be increasing, in part due to the exposure of the abuse scandals. Baptisms, confirmations, attendance, and even parish membership offer shocking hard statistics.

    Furthermore, of those who even go to Mass, perhaps as few as 5% actually accept the Church’s teaching on family life. The nature of the Eucharist, original sin, necessity of grace for salvation, the notion that much of daily life is flooded out in mortal sin, etc. etc., seem to be understood by about the same number of active Catholics.

    The bottom line is that not only are hard stats indicating an overall decline, its stature as a moral voice has shrunk to the point of almost being inconsequential in how daily life is ordered.

    It is not a matter of blaming a single man, as we all share in the guilt. However, clearly at key points the previous Pope fostered a climate that lent to indifferentism, pan-spiritualism/universal salvation, lax morals, etc. etc. (Example: At World Youth Days, young people were not clearly instructed that a) if you are not married and have sex, you are in a state of mortal sin b) yes, masturbation, pornography, etc. are gravely sinful c) life has an order and it is disorderly to rebel.)

    The fruits of this time include a de-Christianized Europe, which will actually fade to oblivion because abortion and birth control were so freely embraced.

    Arguments that ‘he prevented schism’ or ‘I converted because of him’ fail in my view.

    In the case of the former, perhaps various bishops did not formerly severe ties to the Church. When, however, prelates praise Catholics publicly for announcing apostasy (e.g., converting to Judaism), one has to wonder which would have been worse.

    Now, regarding conversion stories, the fact is that the Holy Spirit will work through everything to direct us to a good end. The catalyst might be good, bad, or somewhere in between. Time is the best ingredient, and that is precisely what some are trying to deprive of this process.

    I’m honestly not seeing any remote argument to confer the incredible honor of Saint for Pope John Paul II. Of course, it goes without saying we all deeply hope and pray he is in heaven; certainly for me, if he isn’t then I’m in trouble. The question about Beatification and Canonization is a much more involved consideration as Beatification would be interpreted as affirmation of all of the off the rails goings on of the 80s, 90s, and 2000s.

    For me, all of the time debating this would be better spent on unambiguously proclaiming and putting into action authentic, organic Catholic truth and culture.

  109. paulbailes says:

    Dear Andrew,

    I promised to reply to yours, and even though this thread may soon die I’ll proceed as promised.

    I’ll also contact you directly as per your kind offer.

    May I confirm that my concern with JPII’s beatification, as a precursor to canonisation, is not connected with any kind of negative judgment about his personal holiness. Nor is it concerned per se with the speed of the process (except insofar as haste may have led to failure to consider the below.)

    Rather, my concern is that canonisation of a pope inevitably serves to teach future generations about the candidate’s effectiveness as pope. As Aaron B. puts it, future generations won’t distinguish the person from his effectiveness in the job.

    As far as beatitication honouring JPII, my answer is that he doesn’t need any honouring. If he’s in heaven, then I am sure that’s enough for him! And the same for all the saints. My view is firmly that beatification/canonisation are for the sole purpose of teaching us something to be emulated about the lives of these people; but that in the case of JPII the waters are so muddied (pls excuse the Australian floods pun) that the teaching message is so likely to be garbled that it would be better off avoided.

    Not to beatify/canonise JPII is not going to cause him any harm. (I am sure you know this; but some of the things said/written on this topic makes you wonder if everyone does.)

    Hope to cathch up with you f2f
    Sincerely
    Paul

  110. Andrew says:

    robtbrown,

    I really like the first point you have mentioned, where you say that critics of John Paul II don’t usually appreciate how bad the situation was that he inherited. Bullseye!

    My experience has been that these people come from three distinct groups: (1) They were too young to remember those times; (2) they were lapsed from the faith or not particularly religious then; and (3) they are converts to the Catholic faith, so have no experience of Catholic life from this period

    I grew up in the 1970s, and as I think I have said in another post, if you happened to be somebody at that time who had an orthodox Catholic perspective, the purgatorial affliction was immense.

    In that time here in Australia, liturgical dancing was all the craze, and it was quite common for priests to celebrate Mass on coffee tables in people’s homes! One time during a Catholic school camp, I was asked to read the Gospel, during Mass. Liturgical aberrations and innovations were at their height, and traditional minded groups had to operate underground.

    I went to a boy’s Catholic high school, and I remember a priest giving us a talk to us on sexuality, saying if we wanted a sexual relationship with a girl, we should put her on the pill, or he would blame us if we got her pregnant! I was criticized by another teacher for wearing a Brown Scapular, and then by another one for putting JMJ on the top left hand corner of my binder pages, a practice that had been taught to be me by the nuns in my primary school!

    All of this my friends before the year 1978 when John Paul II was elected. Can you see how dark those days were!

    Many of the problems that we have inherited from the Second Vatican Council, are far from being resolved, and who knows another approach by the powers at be, may have improved things. We don’t really know.

    But John Paul II made it as plain as day what his priorities were, and he payed the price for this, by the dissent and insults offered to him by the secular media, and liberal Roman Catholics like I encountered in my high school, and parish, as a boy. His love for the Eucharist, his deep devotion to Our Lady, and his fearless proclamation of the Gospel of Life.

    Let us not turn our backs on real problems. But at the same time it is important to have a little bit of perspective too.

    I will be forever grateful to John Paul II for the personal encouragement he gave me when he came to the throne of Peter, in the light of my experiences, as a young Catholic. That is why, I hated it in partiuclar, when people criticized John Paul to me, and yet had no personal experiences of being in the “trenches” during the 1970s, when it would have been so easy to walk away from what you saw around you as being Catholic.

    I am glad through God’s grace I stuck it out, and someone about to elevated to the altars by his inspiration helped me stay on the straight and narrow, when all around me was infidelity.

    Sorry for ranting and raving too much about myself here, but in the context of the present discussion, I felt it had to be said in justice to our subject.

    JOHN PAUL II, PRAY FOR US.

  111. catholicmidwest says:

    Geoffrey: “If a bishop stresses his authority too much, then the people think all he can do is issue commands. On the other hand, if he adopts an attitude of service, the faithful spontaneously tend to listen to him and willingly submit to his authority.”

    Demonstrably not true. That’s not what’s happened for the last 40 years. People started, right around the time of V2, to believe that they could do anything they wanted because “things had changed,” and no one corrected them. That attitude is now gone viral and has taken on too many permutations to count. The CCC itself was finally put out in the 90s among much turmoil to quell some of the confusion because many Catholics had ceased being able to tell who to listen to–the parish priest, the nun “catechist” or what they had been taught as children.

    For many people, the lack of LEADERSHIP gave them permission to do what they wanted to do anyway, and many of those people aren’t complaining. After all, they got their abortion and/or their 2.25 kids. They got their “easy” versions of the rules and they like that. For others, it was very painful since it left them completely adrift and at the mercy of anyone who could exert their power over them. People drew all kinds of conclusions and still do.

    JonM’s statistics are entirely correct. European Catholicism is essentially gone. The Church’s moral authority in the US lies in ruins. It’s currently very difficult to talk to people who aren’t in the faithful core of the Church about Catholic morals, because others usually just throw up their hands about the abuse scandals as soon as the subject is broached, and the conversation is over at that point. That’s not their fault. It’s ours.

    RE the theology of the body: Catholic statistics on divorce, birth control & abortion are essentially identical to the general population. So, how did theology of the body make any difference to anyone (except maybe book publishers), exactly speaking?

  112. St. Louis IX says:

    I have noticed a few folks champion Pope John Paul II for pulling the Church out of the Devestation of the 1970s.
    I would like to remind all, that John Paul II took His name as Pope to continue in the spirit and direction of Pope Paul VI and Pope John 23 (John Paul II)so………………Can`t say I agree that he saved the Church from the path it was on in the 1970s?

  113. catholicmidwest says:

    Actually, I think a lot of faithful un-named catholics, many of them laypeople, deserve the medal for bringing the church back from the brink. They’ve had to stand up to people who had titular authority telling them all manner of nonsense, and they’ve done what was right, the best that they could figure out with all the confusion present these days in the church. And there have been very few earthly rewards for that. Many of them have been kicked in the teeth over and over and over for standing up for the church. They deserve the commendation in my view.

  114. robtbrown says:

    St. Louis IX says:

    I have noticed a few folks champion Pope John Paul II for pulling the Church out of the Devestation of the 1970s.
    I would like to remind all, that John Paul II took His name as Pope to continue in the spirit and direction of Pope Paul VI and Pope John 23 (John Paul II)so………………Can`t say I agree that he saved the Church from the path it was on in the 1970s?

    Most of the comments above, including mine, make no claim that JPII pulled “the Church out of the Devastation of the 1970s.” To a great extent, however, he stopped the slide. I can remember the reaction on his first visit to the US (1979) when he said publicly and strongly that women cannot be priests. It was a great gift to those in formation tired of hearing over and over about ordaining women.

    I don’t, however, buy into John Paul the Great campaign.

  115. Geoffrey says:

    “Catholic statistics on divorce, birth control & abortion are essentially identical to the general population. So, how did theology of the body make any difference to anyone (except maybe book publishers), exactly speaking?”

    It’s really a generational question. It is the up and coming “JPII generation” who are embracing the Theology of the Body. The previous generation was already warped, set in their ways, and is dying off.

    Reading many of these comments I see that Ven. John Paul the Great represented tremendous hope and optimism for the future. Many of his detractors seem very negative and pessimistic. How difficult it must be to just get out of bed in the morning!

  116. catholicmidwest says:

    Geoffrey, I’m not sure where you are, but there is no Catholic trend away from general population averages in the US. I’m not talking here about 60 year olds. I’m talking about adults of child-bearing age, young adults. Catholics don’t act differently than the general population on these parameters.

  117. catholicmidwest says:

    And to your point, Geoffrey, that’s not being pessimistic. It’s being truthful & realistic.

  118. St. Louis IX says:

    Geoffrey I Have to agree with catholicmidwest….I`m not a pessamist and the only reason why it can be difficult to get out of bed is…The number of Catholic Churches closing ..The loss of seemingly an entire generation, that has not been taught the faith, or worse in some circumstances untaught the Faith. Watching friends and Family leave the Church, and watching good and Holy Priests suffer under the strain.
    But I am an optimist; because I trust in Jesus and Our Lady has promised Her Immaculate Heart will triumph(but it will be late)

    Peace

  119. Bornacatholic says:

    The Catholic Church declares Pope John Paul II Blessed and all manner of putative Catholics voice their reasons for rejecting what the Catholic Church has declared is truth.

    Remember when Richard Nixon said, “We are all Keynseians now?”

    We might say about this Ecclesiastical Epoch, “We are all protestants now.”

    So what if the Catholic Church declared him Blessed?

    I didn’t like it when he (fill in the blank), and (fill in the blank) happened during his watch….

    The possible objections are endless but since when has ‘ effective discharge of administrative duties’ been a sign of personal sanctity?

    There are not a few members of the More-Catholic-Than-The-Pope (MCT2P) part which is judging the Church and I’d like to ask how their attitude/behavior differs from that of a protestant rejecting this that or the other thing the Catholic Church declares to be true?

    I mean, if MCT2P Party can do it, what is wrong with Protestants doing the same thing?

    In fact, Protestants have the excuse the MCT2P Party does not have – Ignorance.

  120. Aaron B. says:

    Protestants reject dogmas of the faith. While many theologians consider canonization to be infallible, that is a pious belief, not a dogma, and beatifications are a step down from that. However, that’s a strawman anyway, because no one here is “rejecting” the beatification. Some have expressed concerns about the haste of the process and how elevating the life of Pope John Paul II — including his papacy, which can’t reasonably be parsed out of the rest — to sainthood could have unfortunate side effects; but that’s a far cry from saying, “I refuse to call him Blessed.”

    I’m very much an optimist, because of the divine promises we’ve been given, and because I certainly do see things improving. I’m just not sure how much Pope John Paul II was responsible for that. Andrew points out that a lot of the goofiest stuff was going on before 1978, and then got better. But did it get better because the pope spoke out against liturgical dance or disciplined bishops and priests who taught heresy? Or did it get better because society in general moved away from the goofiness of the 70s? Did liturgical dance fade for the same simple reason bell bottoms did: fashions changed and what seemed cool last decade was now cheesy? (Not that there wasn’t still plenty of cheese in Catholic schools in the 80s, by the way.) It looks to me like the same pull-back on the goofy stuff would have happened under any pope who didn’t actively encourage worse.

    Yes, many things got better during John Paul’s reign (and have accelerated under Pope Benedict), but I’d be more inclined to give him credit for them if we had examples of him pushing those changes. But I don’t get the impression he had a problem with much of what was going on; or perhaps as the late Fr. Malachi Martin suggested, he thought things had gone so far it wasn’t possible to fix them. By comparison, we have writings from Cardinal Ratzinger outlining the problems with liturgical innovation and the like; we didn’t get that from John Paul as far as I know. It just wasn’t his focus, despite being a huge problem in the Church at the time.

  121. Bornacatholic says:

    Dear Aron B. Protestants reject the Divinely-Constituted authority – as do putative Catholic who reject the authoritative decision taken in regards to Pope John Paul II’s Sanctity.

    That attitude and tose remarks are well represented in the comments here.

  122. Aaron B. says:

    As is the neo-Catholic idea that you’re a bad Catholic (or a Protestant) if you don’t wholeheartedly embrace every pronouncement from Rome. Also, and again, there’s a difference between rejecting an authoritative decision and respectfully questioning whether it’s a good idea, but I don’t think I can explain that any better.

    The fact that we have a doctrine of infallibility as regards certain teachings made or developed in certain ways makes it clear that other pronouncements are not infallible, and thus can be questioned by good Catholics. If the pope and magisterium were always infallible, there would be no need for the term ex cathedra, or for popes and councils to specify when they are speaking infallibly. Yet they do — which means when they don’t, they aren’t. Equating Catholics who question fallible decisions with Protestants who reject core dogmas of the faith is untrue and unfair.

  123. Creary says:

    Bornacatholic says:
    16 January 2011 at 3:48 pm

    “[...] but since when has ‘ effective discharge of administrative duties’ been a sign of personal sanctity?”

    To answer bornacatholic’s question directly, I answer: It has always been a sign of personal sanctity if a person’s state in life requires it. The concept that fulfilling one’s duties of his state or station of life should have no bearing on our consideration of his personal sanctity seems completely foreign to a Catholic understanding of sanctity.

    But lest anyone think I’m just a layman expressing my opinion about this topic I offer Fr Michael Muller and Fr F.W. Faber to support my statement.

    From God The Teacher of Manking; V.5 Dignity, Authority, and Duties of Parents, Ecclesiastical and Civil Powers — Their Enemy, by Fr Michael Muller. Published by Benziger Brothers, New York, 1883.

    “[...] in order to be saved, we must fulfil the obligations of our state of life, and avoid all the dangers which are naturally attached to such a state. The duties of a priest, for instance, are different from those of a layman; the duties of a religious are different from those of a secular; the duties of the married life are different from those of the single life, and so on.

    Now, each of these states has its duties, its difficulties, and its dangers. Upon the fulfilment of these duties depends our whole eternity. Now, to fulfil the duties of our state, we need not only the ordinary graces which God gives to all men, but we need, beside, the particular graces belonging to that state; and without these particular graces, it is morally impossible for us to fulfil our obligations.” (pg 300)

    And again from An Essay on Beatification, Canonization, and the Process of the Congregation of Rites, by Fr. F.W. Faber. Published by Richardson and Son, London, 1848.

    “[...]in everything peculiar to or important in his particular station in life, an heroic degree of virtue is expected. [...] In the three theological virtues, heroicity is always required; on the four cardinal virtues heroicity is required in those alone which have a special bearing upon his office and position in life; of such importance is the discharge of relative duties considered!” (pgs 43-44, 47-48)

    Now since a man holding the station in life of the Roman pontiff includes jurisdiction over the whole church, not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in the discipline and government of the church, then whether he effectively discharged his administrative duties in that station certainly is a sign for or against his personal sanctity.

  124. Andrew says:

    (I don’t know how long this thread is going to last, as it is not on the front page of WDTPRS anymore, but I have bookmarked the link, so it is easy to obtain access to it).

    Nobody is saying that John Paul II improved all the problems we have received, which are a legacy of the way the Second Vatican Council was implemented.

    Although on his watch, he did do a number of good things in this area, as was pointed out in point form earlier by Jason Keener.

    Fundamentally however, the mission of John Paul II, was his ability to inspire others. His extraordinary story of coming to the papacy from Communist Poland, where had to deal with them, as well as the Nazis. His deep faith which he kept intact, ins spite of negative things happening to him, like the assassination attempt in 1981 (where he credited his survival to Our Lady of Fatima), and later on, his debilitating state caused by Parkinson’s Disease.

    Look at all the World Youth Days, and priestly and religious vocations that have their origin from there, and all the orthodox Catholic magazines and publishing houses that were inspired by the direction of Pope John Paul.

    Joseph Ratzinger participated in both of the 1978 conclaves, just like Wojtyla. But it was the latter bringing him to Rome in early 1982 as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, that caused the German man to be so well known throughout the Church, which made sure he was elected to the papacy the next time, and the Benedictine reform.

    More news has emerged since this thread started and on Sunday, Pope Benedict indicated his joy that he will be elevating him to the altars. Yet, as we know from his writings he and the Polish pope, had their differences and moments. If Benedict who knew him so well was convinced of his sanctity and holiness, why can’t we?