There are many who think that the beatification of John Paul II has come too quickly. It is too soon, they say, to have the proper perspective about the nexus of his pontificate and his life of heroic virtue. I sense that the theology of what is meant by “heroic virtue”, by way.
Whatever negative criticism there may be about the beatification (Assisi, Koran, altar girls, Communion in the hand, new Code, too many trips, explosion of abuse cases, etc.), there are clearly things for which he should praised. For example, he was a strong defender of human life at all stages and he gave a powerful witness of suffering. In addition, I believe the late Pope hauled the Church back from the brink of a liberal schism. (“But Father! but Father!”, traddies are saying now. “He should have let them go!”)
From the UK’s best Catholic weekly’s site, the Catholic Herald.
Sunday’s beatification will be of a holy pope who began the fightback against the smoke of Satan
It will take 100 years to recover from the 1960s and 70s: but John Paul set us back on course [I made a similar point in an a piece for the WaPo which may appear soon… perhaps if it wasn’t too openly anti-abortion.]
By William Oddie
We have short memories; we take our recent history too easily for granted. Few people, it seems – at least among those who imply that the problems we still face as a Church were actually Pope John Paul’s fault –remember the state of the Catholic Church at the end of the reign of the unhappy Pope Paul VI, during which forces of disintegration were unleashed within the Church which brought it to the edge of losing all credibility as a defender of basic Christian orthodoxy. [Surely that is when the chaos came roaring into the Church, the 60’s and 70’s. It continued through the 80’s, without doubt and it churns us up even now. But it is subsiding. Like a tsunami, it has left wreckage.]
This work of darkness was brought about, not by the Council itself, but by some of those, certainly, who had attended it. It was certainly not the work, as some still confidently claim, of a liberal pope: for if Pope Paul was such a convinced liberal, what about Humanae Vitae? What happened during his pontificate was clearly far from his intention. [“Clearly”? I hope so. But if I am hoping that is the case, then it may not be so clear. I think there was a real naivte about what the reforms were going to produce.] At a homily he preached in 1972, he is reported as saying, now famously, that he had “believed that after the Council would come a day of sunshine in the history of the Church. But instead there has come a day of clouds and storms, and of darkness … And how did this come about? We will confide to you the thought that … there has been a power, an adversary power. Let us call him by his name: the devil. It is as if from some mysterious crack… the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.”
He was speaking particularly about the liturgy: but just as disastrous was the unchallenged rise during his pontificate of the so-called “alternative magisterium” of Küng, Schillebeeckx and the rest of their malign brood. [and of Nuns.] It was a time of great destruction; and to destroy is always easier than to rebuild. Recovering from the aftermath of the Council will take 100 years. But Pope John Paul began the fightback: he set the barque of Peter, and the Church with it, firmly back on course.
His greatest achievement, as I have already written in this column, was that he did more than any pope of the last century to defend and reassert beyond any doubt the stable and objective character of Catholic teaching. He saw off the alternative magisterium, [ditto] not by suppressing individuals (though Küng, for instance, had his licence to teach Catholic doctrine removed) but by clear and unequivocal teaching: and as I wrote when the beatification was announced, as a result he made it possible for hundreds of thousands of non-Catholics like myself, tired of the uncertainties of secularised versions of Christianity, to come into full communion with the Holy See.
Read the rest there.