Beating back the smoke of Satan

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.

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  1. TNCath says:

    What an excellent piece! People critical of Pope John Paul II need to realize that without John Paul II, there would never have been a Pope Benedict XVI. Likewise, those who want to criticize the present Holy Father as “not being the man John Paul was” need to realize that it was John Paul II that brought Cardinal Ratzinger to Rome to head the CDF and was one of his closest collaborators during John Paul’s reign; hence, Benedict XVI is clearly a continuation of the papacy of John Paul II.

  2. Scott W. says:

    +1000 points to JPII for Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. It really put the kibosh on the women priest thing. I think it has done as it said and removed all doubt. That is to say, removed all doubt for Catholics not in obstinate denial, but the important thing is that the obstinate are basically reduced to microscopic appeals to finer detail about whether the statement is infallible, the dubium is infallible, and whether statements about the statements are infallible, until we get to the most outrageous appeal to finer detail I’ve ever seen: A commentor on an Amazon review of a book defending male-only priesthood said he accepted both OS and the teaching on male-only priesthood, but guess what? The Church hasn’t explicitly defined what maleness is. (Really. I’m not making that up.) Well, you know a movement is dead is when all that is left is language games.

    That said, I have no objection to JPII’s canonization, but I also don’t have an objection to waiting say ten or twenty years and see how we feel in the morning.

  3. irishgirl says:

    I was talking on Easter evening with a friend who attends the same TLM parish which I go to-in fact, we sit in the same pew together. He didn’t have very nice things to say about either John Paul II or Benedict XVI. In fact, he called them…’evil’! He went on about the clerical sex abuse scandals and how neither one of them did anything to remedy them. And he also talked about the ‘Novus Ordo Mass’ and how Vatican II wrecked everything in the Church.
    I tried to tell him about the upcoming new translation of the Mass-for example, the words at the Consecration of the Precious Blood will be made to say, ‘for many’ instead of ‘for all’. But he wouldn’t listen, and anyway I wasn’t going to argue with him because he’s been very kind and generous to me in my current financial situation.
    How could he call John Paul II and Benedict XVI ‘evil’? I wish I had more nerves-and more eloquence! But I’m only a mere stupid laywoman….sigh….

  4. Oleksander says:

    let us not forget (soon to be Blessed) John Paul II’s anti-communism!

  5. Phil_NL says:

    Not intending to throw the discussion off the rails, but let me revisit two points I made about the pace of canonization of JPII:

    – A beatification or a canonization in itself does not change JP’s status in the slightest, as saints are defined to be in heaven – and would be so prior to the formal canonisation as well. It’s God’s call to make saints, the Church merely confirms an existing fact, even more so since the general position is that canonization is infallible. So all talk of the process going ‘too quickly’ is in a sense moot – if the process proceeds, God has already lead the way before we arrive there. In that sense every canonization is too slow, rather than too quick. How we’d feel in 20 years, or 100, is irrelevant, our feelings do not enter into the equation.

    – One can be a poor administrator, even a poor pope (JP wasn’t, despite his mistakes I still feel he warrants being called ‘The Great’ ) and still be a saint. Prime example: Celestine V, probably the worst administrator of the Church ever, but a saint. The only way a record as pope could have any influence on the matter is if his mistakes reflected on his holiness. Thankfully, as argued in the previous point, this call is not ours to make, it’s only ‘our’ job to pierce the veil and confirm what God has already decided, or be held back by Him should a person not be a saint afterall.

  6. Hieronymus says:

    …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

    Is this a joke? Perhaps he means the last half of the last century? If so I would say JPII still trails FAR behind Pius XII, and probably even John XXIII, and after that there is not exactly a wealth of competition. If he really means the whole of last century, I will suspect out of charity that the writer suffers from dimensia.

    Nothing seemed stable during the reign of JPII, very little was not subject to change. He was personally outspoken in support of life (and is our criteria for orthodoxy so lax?), but actions speak louder than words and he loaded the episcopate with bishops and cardinals who destroyed far more quickly than he built — and the cries of the sheep placed under these wolves were completely ignored. Did he avoid a schism with liberals? Perhaps, but only by giving them the rudder to the ship. You can call it “avoiding a schism” all you like, but the reality is the man was simply a progressivist. Notice he didn’t seem so concerned to stroke the ego of traditional Catholics. There is no traditional counterpart to Mahoney, Weakland, et al (and the alii here would go on for pages). There are more bishops who support things like contraception and women’s ordination than there are who support a return to the traditional Mass, for example, or the even just the elimination of communion in the hand. The more I call up the memories of his pontificate, the more my blood begins to boil…I will stop now.

  7. Henry Edwards says:

    Surely no has any credible doubt of John Paul II’s heroic virtue as an individual. But of course he will be beatified Sunday because he was Pope, not “merely” because he was a saintly person. So the immediate pertinence of comments (like Mr. Oddie’s)–on his effectiveness as a pope–may be not be entirely clear.

    One might wonder how many papal reigns can be evaluated in proper historical perspective until after decades (rather than mere years) have passed. For instance, it has been over three decades since the reign of Pope Paul VI, and it seems to me that we still are nowhere near to a full understanding of his papacy, and precisely what responsibility he may bear for the collapse of the Church and the disintegration of faith and liturgy on his watch.

  8. shane says:

    I agree with Hieronymus. I certainly do not look back at John Paul II’s pontificate with any nostalgia, quite the opposite. Phil_NL is right about the distinction between a person’s holiness and their administrative competence; John Paul had lots of the former but little of the latter. He may well have been a saint, but as a pope he was a disaster.

    It begs credulity that, in the midst of an enormous sex abuse scandal (arguably one of the greatest crises that has ever afflicted the Church in the west) the Pope plans to beatify a man who dismissed accusations out of hand against the notorious Fr Marciel. Pope John Paul II failed to protect innocent children. He also failed to protect the faithful entrusted to him against ravenous wolves, appointing openly modernist bishops to dioceses, resulting in an incalculable loss of souls. Even if his culpability is mitigated it would be better to wait until the crisis is thrashed out rather than procede so hastily like this (new revelations may well yet emerge). One very nasty newspaper columnist in Ireland calls it the “beatification of a protector of paedophiles”. I don’t agree with him but many people certainly will. This moves sends out the wrong message and will give grave scandal.

  9. Geoffrey says:

    Amen! Excellent article. And let us not forget the entire generation of Catholics that John Paul the Great inspired… a generation that embraces orthodoxy, the culture of life, and good liturgy. Let the celebration begin!

  10. Jacob says:

    I laud Shane for mentioning the elephant in the room: Father Maciel.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think we here on earth will ever know completely how far his influence extended as so many top officials were involved from Cardinal Sodano on down. God bless Cardinal Ratzinger for having never given in to greed for money and power.

  11. Centristian says:

    “He was personally outspoken in support of life (and is our criteria for orthodoxy so lax?)”

    Thank you. My thoughts, exactly.

    “We have short memories…”

    Apparently. I’m not sure how Pope John Paul’s liturgical leadership helped to disperse the “Smoke of Satan” from within the temple. Remember what his Masses were like? They were just like all the awful liturgies people complain about on this blog. He led the bad liturgical example; he didn’t counter it. If to save the liturgy means to save the world, what are we to think of the liturgical leadership of Pope John Paul II? Because what are we talking about saving the liturgy from? We’re talking about saving it from the sorts of celebrations that John Paul II routinely presided over for decades.

    Having said all that, let me state that I am not a John Paul II-hater. I loved him and even liked him. But is he the “Great” pope who swept the churches clean?


  12. JKnott says:

    The hardest thing for me to justify is what happened with the liturgy under PJPII.
    However, I have to accept that within the entire picture of JP’s papacy, clearly some of the major issues against his cannonization were God’s providential and permitting will for reasons only He knows. Our recent Lenten mediations teach that Jesus was not a political reformer. The difference is between ‘how are you?’ and ‘how ya doin’?:”. or, holiness versus accomplishments. In some ways there is a parallel here. The Church investigation into personal holiness is grueling and as others have noted above so well, it certainly has nothing to do with our feelings. The web is teaming with opinions but they mean nothing. Only God makes saints and it is hard to question the criteria that the Church uses to conclude that the Lord has made a saint. Stress on his accomplishmets is a huge danger sign because it draws away from our call to personal holiness. John Paul was a man of deep prayer and suffering. He is being beatified because of his confromity to the will of God. A big red flag should go up when when a beatification is viewed like getting a blue ribbon for something or the Nobel Peace prize. The Church Militant, like each soul, will always have challenges as it is part of becoming holy. Jesus said: “My Kingdom is not of this world.”

  13. shane says:

    There is an article on Time’s website today entitled ‘Pope John Paul’s Path to Sainthood: A Rush to Judgment?’,8599,2067918,00.html

    […] For the victims of sexual abuse by predatory priests, the ceremony — a major step towards sainthood — is too much too soon for a Pontiff they say failed to adequately confront the crimes committed by members of his church. “It’s the rubbing of salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of thousands of victims,” says David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “The signal that his beatification basically sends to church employees across the globe is that no matter how many children are harmed because of your inaction, your clerical career won’t suffer.”

    […] But when it came to confronting the rot within his own institution, says Clohessy, the late pope was all but absent: “In his more than 25 years as the world’s most powerful religious figure, we can’t think of a single predatory priest or complicit bishop who experienced any consequences whatsoever for committing or concealing heinous child sex crimes.”

    For much of John Paul’s papacy, the church’s sex abuse crisis bubbled mostly underground. But when it did break through the surface, the pope’s response was most noticeable for its absence. Hans Hermann Groer, an Austrian cardinal accused of abusing more than 2,000 boys over several decades, was made to retire as bishop of Vienna when the scandal broke in 1995, but was never punished or forced to apologize. (Groer died in 2003.) The Mexican priest Marcial Maciel Degollado continued to receive John Paul’s support after allegations emerged in the late 1990s that he had abused seminarians.

    “Time and again, John Paul simply refused to take the hard decisive steps that a visionary leader would take,” says Jason Berry, author of Render unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church, and two books on the sex abuse scandal. “The way he responded to the accusations against Father Maciel by basically ignoring them, acting as if they didn’t even exist, is not only a sign of a terrible denial on his part, but also an unwillingness to confront the full impact of evil.”[…]

    It also notes that a new sex abuse report is due in Ireland next month, for the Diocese of Cloyne. The bishop in charge served as a private secretary to John Paul II. Who knows? – it may even implicate the Pope himself. Either way it’s very badly timed. The article quotes Berry as saying: “I don’t think that John Paul was ever taken to full account by the news media during the last decade of his life. Hagiography at this point is premature at best and at worst an insult to the many people who have been harmed. There’s a good chance it could backfire.”

  14. Stu says:

    I think the John Paul II detractors are a bit overboard on this. Even while I believe the beatification/canonization process seems a bit quick (don’t see the need to rush it) and that JPII wasn’t perfect (who is?), we need to take into account what he was working with at the time.

    Further, Pope John Paul II was playing the long game in all of this (as is Pope Benedict XVI). No need to confront the old guys in righting the ship when you can quietly change the mindset of all of the youngsters coming up after them.

  15. Maltese says:

    “This work of darkness was brought about, not by the Council itself…” Is that so?

    I’ll let Msgr. Gherardini speak to this:

    “In all truth Modernism hid itself under the cloak of Vatican II’s hermeneutic…The new rite of Holy Mass practically silenced the nature of sacrifice making of it an occasion for gathering together the people of God…the eucharistic gathering was given the mere sense of sharing a meal together…After having said all of this about Vatican II, if someone were to ask me if, in the final analysis, the modernist corruption had hidden itself within the Council documents themselves, and if the Fathers themselves were more or less infected, I would have to respond both yes and no…But yes as well, because not a few pages of the conciliar documents reek of the writings and ideas of Modernism–this can be seen above all in GS.” Ecumenical Vatican Council II, A Much Needed Discussion

    This theologian goes on to state that a pastoral council may not have the overarching protection of the Holy Spirit. Think about the last sentence from the quote above. Also, think about what has happened to the Church after Vatican II. Can one really absolve the council of the malaise and stricken devastation of the Church today?

  16. Tom Piatak says:

    William Oddie is exactly right.

  17. Denis says:

    I agree with hieronymus, but I also have no doubt that JPII is a saint. One can be holy and a terrible Pope.

    There is no way to put a happy face on what happened in the Church under JPII. Yes, all of it started before him, but he didn’t do much to stop it. It’s not that he never used his authority. Unfortunately, it was mostly used against traditionalists. The only criteria of orthodoxy were uncritical affirmation of Vatican II and the Novus Ordo. Many questionable groups grew while the SSPX was persecuted.

    Yet, as an individual, JPII was a light in a time of terrible darkness.

  18. Random Friar says:

    Nigh-Blessed Pope John Paul II’s beatification is not being “rushed” for him. It is being “rushed” for the Church, for Her faithful. Did he make mistakes? Certainly. Even some foolish or naive ones (Fr. Maciel). Only one Man did not make mistakes, and that job is already filled, thank you.

    But I remind his detractors, that all the new priests emerging through the ranks, the ones that will help rebuild the Church brick-by-brick, proudly call themselves “JP2 Catholics.” They are the ones who, if they choose the third Eucharistic Prayer this weekend, will proclaim with great joy, “May He make us an everlasting gift to You and enable us to share in the inheritance of Your saints, with Mary, the virgin Mother of God, with the apostles, the martyrs, Blessed Pope John Paul II, and all your saints, on whose constant intercession we rely for help.”

    Santo Subito, pray for us!

  19. Kevin B. says:

    “In addition, I believe the late Pope hauled the Church back from the brink of a liberal schism.”

    Is de facto schism that much better than de jure schism? At least with the latter, we know more clearly where everyone stands.

    I second what many have said here: I do not doubt John Paul II’s personal holiness but from the limited, creaturely view of this obstreperous lay man, some of his administrative decisions as pope were questionable. But then again, only two people who have ever walked the earth have been without sin or shortcoming. John Paul II, ora pro nobis.

  20. Hieronymus says:

    Further, Pope John Paul II was playing the long game in all of this (as is Pope Benedict XVI). No need to confront the old guys in righting the ship when you can quietly change the mindset of all of the youngsters coming up after them.

    First of all, old guys have souls, too. Second, by not confronting rot and decadence, he presented a spineless and effeminate church to the young, which is far from inspiring. The number of my friends who persisted in the faith beyond high school after 12 years of “Catholic” education is miniscule — and the handful I know who did, don’t go much beyond Mass attendance. The presentation of JPII as an inspirer of Catholic youth focuses only on the crowd at World Youth Days, and we are made to believe that crowds of admirers didn’t surround the popes of the past.
    Ignored are the massive numbers (the overwhelming majority, in my experience) of kids who grew up in Catholic schools and are no longer Catholic. The once mighty Catholic school system is on the brink of extinction. But I suppose those youths don’t matter. They aren’t swaying to the rhythm of Taize and repeating trite lines about the civilization of love.

  21. Hieronymus says:

    But I remind his detractors, that all the new priests emerging through the ranks, the ones that will help rebuild the Church brick-by-brick, proudly call themselves “JP2 Catholics.”

    ALL new priests? Really? The orders that have grown the most over the past 20 years have been the traditional ones, and I don’t think you are going to find too many seminarians of the FSSP, ICKSP, SSPX, et al calling themselves “JP2 Catholics”. Also, let’s not forget that MANY firmly orthodox seminarians were screened out for their rigidity by JPII appointed bishops. In order to get through the system, one had to pretend to be a “JP2 Catholic”.

  22. Jon says:

    “People critical of Pope John Paul II need to realize that without John Paul II, there would never have been a Pope Benedict XVI.”

    Indeed, but don’t forget that had (if leaked accounts from conclaves are to be believed) the runner-up in 1978 been elected instead, there would have been no need for the restorationist papacy of Benedict XVI. The restoration, I’m pretty confident, would’ve occurred 26 years before.

    According to those accounts, that runner-up was Cardinal Siri of Genoa, whose election the compromise candidacy of Karol Wojtyla was put forward by the progressives to forestall. Had Siri been elected…

  23. shane says:

    Hieronymus is right about Catholic youth. I myself am of the ‘JP2 Generation’ but feel nothing but bitter and intense anger over the late pope and his legacy. I was 15 when John Paul II died and vividly remember discussing it at (Catholic) school. We were all full of (media-imbibed) admiration for his part in bringing down the Soviet Union but at best viewed him as a benevolent but distant father figure (a bit like a kid views Santa Clause) rather than as the Vicar of Christ. Many of those who went on the World Youth Days were not necessarily going there for religious reasons. Often heavily subsidized trips were organized by dioceses and schools; it’s questionable whether the World Youth Days ever did much good at all. Hardly anyone my age goes to Mass, and very few know anything about the Church’s doctrines. Like Hieronymus the more I think about his pontificate the more my blood begins to boil. This beatification is a huge mistake.

  24. tcreek says:

    Regarding the Catholic youth of the JPII Generation:
    90% never or hardly ever attend Mass and the same percentage are, no doubt, sexually active before
    I am a volunteer in Catholic youth ministry.
    You do what you can, but leadership at the top is all but non existent.

  25. Centristian says:

    “I think the John Paul II detractors are a bit overboard on this.”

    You’ll pardon me, Stu: I don’t wish to be confrontational, at all, but I think it’s a bit overboard (and unfair) to classify those with legitimate criticisms of Pope John Paul II as his “detractors”. I don’t think anybody’s aim is to unjustly take away from his good name, but rather to legitimately make note of actions (and of trends set in motion by him) that seem difficult to justify, particularly against the backdrop of what “liturgy rescuers” believe is right and good.

    I’m not going to sit here and say that one person or another should not be beatified; it’s above my pay grade to do that. On the other hand, however, I think it’s perfectly legitimate for a Catholic to ponder questions and concerns about a prospective beatus, stoping short of coming to rash and definite conclusions.

    Is it legitimate for a Catholic to ponder, for example, John Paul’s brilliance and personal sanctity, but then to wonder why it didn’t seem to rub off on his presentation of the liturgy? That’s a legitimate question to ask, I think, and one without a readily apparent answer. Or…is it so that his liturgical direction was the correct one and we of the “save the liturgy” mindset have got it all wrong? Either way, there is no denying there exists a very big difference between what “our sort” believe is right concerning the liturgy, and the direction that John Paul II took the liturgy in.

    If those who wish to restore good liturgy have things entirely right and John Paul II had it entirely wrong, how did he manage to get it so wrong, given his personal sanctity, intelligence, and celebrated “orthodoxy”?

    And that’s only to tackle his liturgical leadership.

    But on the subject of the liturgy (which I view as being of supreme importance…as a matter essential, and not parenthetical) it isn’t detraction to hold up one thing as being right and true, and to then notice that Pope John Paul II typically did the opposite of what we’re holding up as right and true. And it is legitimate to wonder why his personal sanctity did not preclude this contradiction. It is not legitimate to declare that John Paul II was not as holy as the Church is prepared to declare he was, but it is legitimate to wonder what Rome sees that makes the apparent contradictions dissolve into unimportance. Why do those apparent contradictions not speak to his personal sanctity?

    That I don’t know and can’t answer and don’t presume to. I accept that he will become “Blessed John Paul II”. I don’t fully undersatnd why (neither did I fully understand why in the cases of Pius IX and John XXIII), but I accept it. Legitimate ponderings and concerns, however, cannot be said to amount to detraction.

  26. Since Oddie brings it up, a small point:

    …if Pope Paul was such a convinced liberal, what about Humanae Vitae?

    That, I think, has nothing to do with liberalism or conservatism. Humanae vitae was the charism of infallibility at work. Paul VI simply could not have done otherwise than he did, even if he had wanted to (which I doubt). Even if, by some awful calamity, Alan Guttmacher himself had made it onto the throne of Peter, he could not reverse the Church’s teachings on contraceptives.

  27. benedetta says:

    I have a comment which I am sure will enrage those in the vocal fringes on either side who employ their bully pulpits to criticize the Church’s plan to beatify one particular person…

    Can we not just for a moment, drop the thesis that this is all about achievement of some political trophy, and prayerfully accept together the fact that the Church will have one more intercessor on our behalf?

    Because what drives all of this ping ponging (and I am well aware, the msm must say something which can sell…) is undermining skepticism, a lack of faith.

    Do we not believe in the communion of saints. Does not each one of us personally know a saint who lived in our lifetimes who perhaps will never receive the official declaration of the Church and yet are examples to our journeys of faith, of heroic Christian virtue.

    The drone of the talking heads who criticize this moment invite us to one path only: to doubt, to give up, to say, to heck with it all, to stop listening, to stop praying, to forget hope altogether. To them, it’s all a political sham, or, it means nothing at all.

    Which critic in pushing their favored for process of canonization by the Church then recommends that people redouble their prayer for the advancement of one cause or another? To seek a Blessed out for a miracle? If we think that this is so laughable then perhaps that is why we see so few miracles these days…?

    Where I am, a great many people locally, Catholics, Christian denominations, friends of the Native Americans and friends of the environment, pious and/or joyful, even people of no faith at all, look to Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha for intercession. She is revered and honored. Do these pundits think that all of these people, “liberal” or “conservative” of all walks of life, are just stupid, superstitious, and ought to just “give up”?

    I for one will not just give up. I will celebrate and appreciate this beatification and thank God for the witness of JPII in my lifetime and for the gift of this intercessor, who I daresay would not refuse any prayer, no matter the political persuasion or tribal loyalty, from anyone who asked. Just on the brief personal knowledge I am going on.

    And I will also say a special prayer for the Church’s many haters, critics and underminers, so incessantly motivated in their commentating, to Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. An old school strong woman. The Lily of the Mohawks.

  28. Stu says:

    You’ll pardon me, Stu: I don’t wish to be confrontational, at all, but I think it’s a bit overboard (and unfair) to classify those with legitimate criticisms of Pope John Paul II as his “detractors”.

    What shall I call them then to appeal to your sensibilities especially given I have criticism too of our former Holy Father?

  29. Centristian says:


    What shall I call them then to appeal to your sensibilities especially given I have criticism too of our former Holy Father?”

    Well, I think “critics” would be the more correct label, noting that criticism is not detraction.

  30. Stu says:

    Hieronymus says:

    First of all, old guys have souls, too.
    Indeed, but that doesn’t mean you personally can save them all. Sometime prudence dictates doing what you can with what you got and that even means, sadly, writing some people off in terms of trying to change their minds or ways.

    Second, by not confronting rot and decadence, he presented a spineless and effeminate church to the young, which is far from inspiring.
    Your assumption is that by not confronting such things in the way you would like, means that no such confrontation happened. One thing I learned early as a junior officer is that all too often we don’t have the full picture down at trench level. All things being the same and noting the similarities between the Church and the military, I am confident the same holds true here.

    The number of my friends who persisted in the faith beyond high school after 12 years of “Catholic” education is miniscule — and the handful I know who did, don’t go much beyond Mass attendance.
    Clearly JPII is totally to blame here (end sarcasm). You might want to consider the very vast changes happening in society before his pontificate. The Church took a hit and in many ways is still staggering to get back up. Think of a spiritual Pearl Harbor.

    The presentation of JPII as an inspirer of Catholic youth focuses only on the crowd at World Youth Days, and we are made to believe that crowds of admirers didn’t surround the popes of the past. I’ve never beleived that.

    Ignored are the massive numbers (the overwhelming majority, in my experience) of kids who grew up in Catholic schools and are no longer Catholic. The once mighty Catholic school system is on the brink of extinction. But I suppose those youths don’t matter. They aren’t swaying to the rhythm of Taize and repeating trite lines about the civilization of love.
    You are being a bit of drama queen in your presentation even with me agreeing with you sentiment. As with above, the Church is still reacting to a powerful societal and cultural attack. Anyone short of Jesus Christ Himself will take a bit in bring the ship back on course. JPII was called to do damage control and get systems at least back up and running. Benedict XVI now takes the helm and begins to get us back on course. More action will be needed even after him. It’s a long game.

  31. Stu says:

    Not happy with “critics” as my choice of words. I too have criticisms of some of his actions but I still see this matter a bit differently. Sorry.

  32. benedetta says:

    No human being is perfect. No saint was perfection on the earth. The Church’s declaration of sainthood is not a statement of total sinlessness, perfection. In the great majority of accounts of saints, (read any account, anywhere, no matter by “the liberals” or “the conservatives”) and you will discover that far from being perfectly sinless that one constant trait was that they frequently acknowledged their own faults, some from childhood through their entire lives. Many were devoted to the Eucharist, but just as surely, they were devoted to that other sacrament, of penance, as well. Perhaps there would be more living saints in our neighborhoods if frequent recourse to the sacrament of confession was encouraged and celebrated?

    I don’t think in the beatification we will be hearing a statement of this man’s perfection. Maybe the point of a communion of saints is to be able to seek intercession with others who were similarly in the journey, in solidarity. Not to pronounce certain people flawless.

    So long as we are free to launch our opinions of what constitutes heroic virtue I would say that his constant witness to the sanctity of human life, in an era when this is simply not at all valued, constituted heroic virtue. (For a summary, see Evangelium Vitae).

    Even the Sinless One did not lord the fact of that aspect of His existence over on others. No even in His hunger and thirst it was a path to communion, with us.

  33. Evangeliman says:

    Perhaps I am blinded by my youthful inexperience, but, looking at those with whom I grew up, I cannot point to anyone who has left the Faith who would not have done so regardless of who was pope. However, I know many who initially chose to remain in Her arms because of examples such as John Paul 2.
    As far as I can tell, those who would have remained in the Church apart from the leadership of our last Pope remained anyways. But I can point to many who probably would not have remained without him.
    Given the revolutions I have read about in these past few decades (having observed only a little in person), the Church seems to have allowed some bending (particularly in the Liturgy) with far fewer outright breaks than otherwise. It is difficult to see a better path through the mire than that which was taken.

  34. MarkJ says:

    Despite what Pope John Paul II did or did not do during the greater part of his Papacy (and I can certainly disagree with much of what he did), his last years of suffering through Parkinson’s for the Church may be what finally tipped the scales toward his sainthood. The Lord is merciful, and rewards us not only for what we do with His grace each moment throughout our lives, but ultimately looks at the state of our soul when we are finished here on Earth. From what I can see with my limited view, Pope John Paul II ended his life in a kind of prolonged heroic matyrdom through his illness, showing the whole world that suffering has meaning, and uniting himself to the Sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. Is that not what we typically look for in a Saint? Let’s all have some Faith in the Church and in the Lord who directs her in this process…

  35. donantebello says:

    @ irishgirl

    don’t worry about those who launch vile attacks at soon to be Blessed John Paul II. They betray a bitterness, and a lack of sophistication of all the nuances and realities of leading the oldest most ubiquitous entity on the entire planet. They also betray a shallow grasp of history, being that changes are never made “overnight.” (Haven’t they learned from the implementation of the Novus Ordo?) John Paul II loosed the Latin mass, it was the Bishops who were disobedient to the documents. The root of the problem is that men who are bishops now, for the most part, were systematically taught in seminary during and after the Council that Traditional forms were obsolete and that a new day had dawned in the Church. They got swept up into a relativistic interpretation of the Council, and the air began clearing with the mystic and saintly JPII. (Thank you Holy Ghost.)

    From what Cardinal Ranjith has communicated to Bishop Fellay (Google it and translate it from the French), it appears that Pope Benedict XVI is seeing about a 20 year time table of “gradual” moving the Church forward to the traditional form of the Liturgy. This is reality my friends, and if Benedict came out right now, and just threw down the gauntlet, mandating more Traditional forms of worship this instance, there would be utter chaos and schism arising from all sides. Most Bishops in Europe, the United States, and Canada don’t even have the intellectual framework to grasp the entire vision of TLM as the fulfillment of Sacrosanctum Concilium and Vatican II. (That was not to dog these Bishops, just stating the reality about how they were trained and instructed in the immediate time after Vatican II ie. that tradition was the boogie man.)

    Henri De Lubac said it best: after Trent the Bishops of France stonewalled the reforms for 100 years, and renewal slowed to a grinding halt in that Eldest Daughter of the Church. What happened there is what’s happening all over the world in Bishop’s, in most cases with good, but uninformed intentions, resisting the authoritative implementation of the “pastoral council” that is Vatican II. If we can’t even imagine the chaos and schism which would explode and decimate Western civilization now if TLM reforms were mandated right now by Benedict, image how worse it would have been in the “heyday” of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s! Our wise and beloved Holy Father’s don’t want to ignite another tragedy like the Iconoclast crisis which annihilated the Byzantine Empire and paved the way for the Near East and Turkey to be overrun by Islam.

  36. wolfeken says:

    It is one thing to be in favor of human life, as John Paul II was.

    It is another thing to actually do something about it, as John Paul II failed to do from 1978-2005.

    The Catholic Church is an utter disaster on life issues, from contraception to sodomy to abortion. In some studies, Catholics oppose the Church’s stand on these issues more than non-Catholics. Catholic politicians are amongst the worst in the world on these issues, with little more to fear than lip service from a prelate who often doesn’t follow through with more than talk.

    I am still looking for something to cheer about this weekend. Not emotion or feelings — but actual facts. The Church was in chaos during the reign of John Paul II and we are going to be cleaning up his messes for decades to come — beatified, canonized, both or neither.

  37. Geoffrey says:

    I don’t understand the bubble of superiority that traditionalists live in. It’s not like the pontificate of Venerable Pius XII was some sort of Catholic “golden age”. The Evil One has been attacking the Church since day one, using whatever means at his disposal at the given time. Even now.

    Regarding the clerical abuse issue and the late Fr. Maciel: Ven. John Paul the Great was slow in believing any accusations against the clergy, particularly regarding such horrible sins. Why? These were the tactics of the Communists in Poland. And I recall reading in a 2005 column of Fr. Z’s in The Wanderer about the meeting with American Cardinals where the venerable pontiff pounded the desk with his fist.

    Regarding Fr. Maciel, Pope Benedict XVI in his recent interview-book referred to him as a false prophet and deceiver. Christ may have known about Judas and his imminent betrayal, but the Vicar of Christ is not omnipotent.

    I for one will be cheering this weekend, and I have a feeling I will have to avoid the comments on this blog in order to do so. Ioannes Paule Magne, ora pro nobis!

  38. pjthom81 says:

    Interesting comments on all sides. I’m going to have to come down on the pro-JP II side…insofar as that I believe that he was a great Pope.

    I note that the comments that critique JP II for the most part look at the world as it is in 2011, and not as it was in 1978. I have seen no mention of the anti-Communist work of JP II…..a role that Mikhail Gorbachov believes was decisive. (Note that Gorbachov is not precisely happy with the way matters worked out.)

    That in itself is a tremendous achievment…..millions of Catholics that could not practice their faith now are able to, and there has been, I believe, a certain spiritual rebirth inside of those areas. JP II’s native Poland seems to be sending her sons around the world to serve as Priests…and in this way Poland has succeeded Ireland’s old role as rescuer of Catholic civilization. These Polish Catholics seem by all accounts to be most orthodox and enthusiastic. From the perspective of Eastern Europe, John Paul II’s pontificate seems to have been a complete and utter success.

    Western Europe? Well that’s what Benedict’s calling may well be. We might as well throw the United States in there too. I think it important to note though that the zeitgeist of 1978 was far different than 2011. Now the countercultural remnants are old, tired, and a scold….rather resembling a far left version of PG Wodehouse’s Aunt Agatha. Joyless and stuck in their own self patrolled ghettos….no one really cares what they have to say. In some abstract manner they provide a leadership to the general secular culture, but the newer generations seem to generally regard them with bafflement. Since their economics have little to do with reality we can bet on this credibility gap growing in the future.

    In 1978 these people were still the youth….and unfortunately their minds had been made up as to what they stood against. As none of their theories had been truly tried their enthusiasm was intact. Their inspirational year of protest…1968….was only a decade in the past. I am all for a traditionalist restoration in many ways, but I cannot think of a worse time to attempt this than 1978.

    There was also the problem of the bishops. Many of those that traditionalists will complain about as being promoted under JP II were actually appointed first to office during Paul VI. The choice seems to have been to have either appointed immediate traditionalists all at once or to by degree try to get the entirety of the American Episcopate and Priesthood back to traditionalism by degree. As I’ve observed before, the question is one of speed not direction. Another point should be made as well. It is my understanding that the current Pontiff has now appointed a near majority of the US Bishops, but the rate of turnover is exceptional. Was the Vatican aware of this and did the Vatican under both JP II and Benedict XVI plan on reforming the reform just as the wave of retirements hits? I’d see that as a possibility. Regardless, the fact remains that during the time of JP II’s Pontificate a large number of bishops were opposed to the Vatican, and nothing much could be done until their retirement. The Hunthausen mess is a good example.

    With all that what are the remaining objections? (1) That the Pope did little about the scandal, (2) that the Pope did nothing to reform his own Vatican Liturgies and (3) that Catholics continued to fall away. Regarding (1) JP II did have a blind spot given that this was a Communist method of attack. It is however worth noting that we are not aware of the details, and that many reforms the Vatican wanted the various national Episcopates were reluctant to implement. Regarding (2)….well, your guess is as good as mine. JP II was not a liturgist to the same degree Benedict XVI is. I do not know how JP II liturgies compared to Paul VI. Regarding (3) the critique seems unfair since while JP II was at the head of the Church dissent on the sexual matters in particular was being openly embraced by various “Catholic” institutions. As a highschooler I remember that most of the teachers were absolutely opposed to Catholic teaching and were convinced that the Church simply had to “catch up with the times.”

    During JP II’s Pontificate I often felt that the Pope was the head but that a large section of the American Church seemed to be attempting to undermine him at every juncture. In that contest, there was no doubt as to who’s side I was on. Interestingly, the scandal seemed to destroy much of the institutional power of the dissenters within the Church. Weakland’s case I believe is instructive. During the time where dissenters held great institutional power, JP II was a leader to rally behind and represented hope to many of us. For that, I believe he was a great Pope. I also do not think that the reforms being pursued now were as possible for most of JP II’s papacy.

  39. donantebello says:

    You guys who are ripping John Paul II are impossible. It’s stuff like this that gives tradition a bad name. No wonder people don’t want to open up to the Latin mass.

    It’s one thing to give a logical and fair critique of his reign, no one is arguing that, but “he’s the worst pontiff ever,” or “his pontificate was an absolute disaster.” You guys’ comments are not serious and are relegating yourselves to the wings of buffoonery in this discussion.

  40. Lori Pieper says:

    wolfeken says:
    28 April 2011 at 3:05 pm

    It is one thing to be in favor of human life, as John Paul II was.

    It is another thing to actually do something about it, as John Paul II failed to do from 1978-2005.

    Exactly what would you have had him do? He only gave us tons of teaching and constant exhortation on the subject, including Evangelium Vitae. He urged respect for life in and out of season, even the places where it was least respected, because that is his job as Pope to teach the flock.

    “Doing something about it” was our job – we are called to put the Church’s teachings into practice in political parties, government law, universities, social life, etc. That’s what we have the laity for. If Catholics didn’t do anything in this area, after all his exhortations, don’t blame John Paul II for that.

    True, he didn’t excommunicate or punish those politicians and others who gave scandal in this area; we don’t know why, but likely it may have poisoned the atmosphere even more or lead to schism. Bu there were still more than enough good people to get things done. Truth is, most “good” Catholics were just flat-out indifferent to the life issues – a tide that may be beginning to turn.

    Right now I’m really looking forward to celebrating the beatification this Sunday. (Must remember to pick up some Polish sausage.)

    Pray for us, Johnn Paul the Great, confessor and (someday) Doctor of the Church!

  41. Denis says:

    Great saints can be terrible administrators. When I pray to JPII for his intercession, I will diplomatically avoid mentioning his episcopal appointments, koran kissing, the polka mass, and other unpleasant issues. What would be the point?

  42. brianvzn says:

    Three important points from Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the SSPX.

    On February 19, 1984, a new concordat was agreed upon between the Holy See and Italy: henceforth, applying the Council’s Declaration on Religious Liberty, Italy is no longer a Catholic State but a lay State; that is to say, an atheistic State; according to the same document, Rome is no longer the Holy City!
    On May 10, 1984, the Pope visited a Buddhist temple in Thailand; he took off his shoes and sat down at the feet of a Buddhist bonze, who himself was sitting in front of the altar on which there was a large statue of the Buddha.
    In August of 1985, the Holy Father proclaimed to young Muslims in Casablanca that we Christians adore the same God as they do—as though there is a Most Holy Trinity and an Incarnation of God in Islam! A few days later, he went with some animist priests and their escorts to the outskirts of Lohomay, to a cult in the “holy forest” where “the force of water” and the divinized souls of the ancestors are invoked. And at least two times at Kara and Togoville—at Kara just before celebrating Holy Mass!—he poured water and cast corn flour into a dried-out cucumber skin, a gesture professing a false religious belief.

  43. Random Friar says:

    Ecclesia Dei. “But Father, but Father, it was not implemented well, if at all.” I would argue that if there were no Ecclesia Dei, Summorum Pontificum would’ve been very, very difficult to implement (and it still hasn’t been implemented fully, not by a mile). Brick by brick. Rome thinks more like Ents than Hobbitses wondering when their very next meal is coming from. What do we think would have happened if Pope Benedict XVI came out with Summorum Pontificum right away, with no true foundation to build upon? I think the pushback he’s experiencing right now would be a soft breeze in comparison.

    Much of the pro-Life movement is thanks to John Paul II’s call to man the fort around Life and take up prayer against the Culture of Death. His very witness as he aged and suffered was inspiring. The people I did 40 Days for Life with, were, in the vast majority, JP2 types (save for the Easterners, and I’m not sure who else). They began taking up rosaries under him, save for the youngest, and they were influenced by their JP2 parents and fellow parishioners.

    And I am a HUGE fan of Ven. Pius XII. The problems that exploded under Pope Paul VI and were slowly beaten back under soon-to-be-blessed John Paul II began to get their head of steam under him (the Liturgical Movement that started in the 20th century was really in full bloom under him) — but it was an all-around tectonic cultural shift that finally gave way when unrealistic (and disastrous, if implemented) expectations were not met by Pope Paul VI that the Church was truly rent by de facto schism. Few could’ve foreseen what would happen when Humanae Vitae came out, in great part because so few were expecting it to come out.

    I am not the enemy of Traditionalists. I try to support them as much as I am able, and will even push for their needs more as we make progress to a renewed Liturgy. Our young friars, who also see more or less eye-to-eye with me insofar as supporting a more reverential Liturgy, and are now picking up the Dominican Rite, were all born under and inspired by Blessed John Paul II. Perfection seems to be the enemy of the good in many cases. Again, I don’t think he was perfect by any means. But he sure deserves the Honors of the Altar, imho.

  44. AlexE says:

    As somebody already mentioned, the Church doesn’t “make” saints only confirms what God has done, so to speak. If the Late Holy Father is raised to the Altars, well he is a saint. Rome will have spoken, I should think that means the case is settled

  45. frjim4321 says:

    Well, I would not quibble with any recent pope being considered for sainthood, be it John XXIII, Paul IV, JPII (assuming JPI would be out of the running) should any of them be deemed worthy of such an honor, but being a bit of a traditionalist I think that waiting periods for beatification and canonization exist for very solid reasons, and thus should not be dispensed with for political or ideological purposes. In theory I would not disagree should JPII be declared blessed or a saint if indeed he is worthy of such, however, in view of a number of concerns with regard to his tarnished pontificate the suspension of the traditional waiting period is a sad error of judgement. What are another 50 or 100 years, if he is really a saint? It matters little. On the other hand, the suspension of the waiting period in the face of the sexual abuse crisis in general, and his apparent enablement of Maciel in particular not only “rubs salt in the wounds” as others have appropriately said here, but it further delays healing. The sexual abuse crisis has set the church back two or three generations optimistically; a rush to judgement re: this beatification just slows things down more and gives the impression that the vatican just doesn’t care.

  46. Tuotilo says:

    I don’t understand the whole “he is being beatified for his personal holiness, not his pontificate.” Isn’t that a bit like saying, “He was a good man, except for his actions.” It seems kind of silly to me.

  47. Denis says:


    No I don’t think it’s at all like saying “He was a good man, except for his actions,” because his failings as an administrator were not the sum of his life or his actions. In most cases, those failings were probably the result of a tendency to be too trusting of the motives of others. Of course, I’m basing my judgment on what I know about him, which isn’t more than is available to most other lay Catholics who aren’t part of any Vatican inner circles. I guess I just think that the pluses in JPII’s life were quite impressive, and consistent with sanithood, and that the minuses were the result of a certain degree of naivete. In any case, I just cannot get myself to be angry at JPII. Quite the contrary: I will always have an enormous amount of affection for him, in spite of the minuses. On the other hand, I’m not one of those who will accuse you of being an evil, evil traditionalist if you don’t feel the same way about him.

  48. Personally I disagree with certain tendencies and have certain concerns over the papacy of JohnPaul II. I wouldn’t call him the Great as he does not seem to compare to St Gregory the Great or St Leo the Great. Both were advocate advocates of enforcing orthodoxy and chasing the wolves out of the Church as well replacing lax/ lazy shepherds with good shepherds who loved Christ and His flock. They were not “go with the flow” type popes- in public or in private and they both dealt with a Church in crises (perhaps just as much as in the 60s- doubt and heresy are nothing new).

    Blessed John Paul II doesn’t quite seem to fit in the category of either. We had some of the worst shepherds in recently history and for the most part they were left free for the most part to ravage and rend the flock. Othodoxy is not solely the pro-life movement as someone pointed out earlier. Yes it is part but not the whole. Just because a parent kept their pet favorite despite having sold all their other children into prostitution doesn’t make them a good parent. If people are going to argue for the orthodoxy of the papacy of John Paul II then they have to search much further than the pro life stances- they are simply not the guarentor of orthodoxy. Besides since when have we judged othodoxy by comparing it to the preaching of the world rather than the teachings of the Church? Focus is a bit off when we do that. The fact that so much was lost before the pontificate of John Paul II does not excuse the lack of personal restorative efforts (not saying there were none but we can’t blame Paul IV, etc for all the inadequacies of John Paul II). Else in order to elevate John Paul II to the altars you must burn effigies of Paul VI. Doesn’t seem all that just. Granted it was an improvement but it wasn’t quite a deliverence either. Rather it was a truce or compromise- as was his election it seems.

    As far as canonizing him there is no need to say he was flawless or defend all his decisons or even most of them. Pope Celestine was canonized and it would seem that despite pope John Paul’s administrative failings he was definitely better in regards to his capabilities as an administrator. It would seem to be that it is primarily an issue of personal holiness. I tend to believe it was there, though, I have not read much about that particular topic.

    However, I do find this rush to canonize him a bit disconcerting. Not opposed to the canonization itself but rather to the haste with which it is progressing. Some of the reasons they what until some time after is all personal attachment and relations are gone for the most part. During the pontificate of John Paul II he was pretty much promoted as the Catholic version of a “rock star.” While attending a Catholic HS I remember that even the liberals promoted him and quite enthusiastically. While they were probably raising him so high in order so they could attach themselves to his coat tails and be raised a little bit with him I found the whole thing a bit distasteful. It was based more upon persona rather than devotion to the Church. Most of those who rushed to do so that I knew had problems with some of the most basic moral issues. Love of John Paul II did not seem to indicate a predilection of orthodoxy in my experience. Personally I have heard of a lot of those “JPII Catholics” but have never really yet someone who identified themself as one (at least in person). I have been called one due to my age (seems they assume all Catholics under a certain age are Catholics due to JPII). It couldn’t be farther from the truth. While John Paul II didn’t really turn me away from Catholicism on a personal level at the time neither did he draw me to it on any level at all either. Personally I don’t like being called a JPII Catholic- I and a good number of my friends are not- we became Catholics much later under Pope Benedict’s pontificate. If we much be named after a pope (sort of a dubious practice) then if anything we should be considered “BXVI Catholics.”

    As far as criticizing his papacy- yes I have. However, I realize he had a very difficult position and can’t quite say I am sure I would have done any better. It was an unenviable position but either way it was not all roses either.

    As far as canonization not saying “No” at this point. Just sayin “Whoa.” No good reason to rush and only good reasons to go slowly. Main one being why all the rush and why now? If he should be then he will be- does it really matter if it is now or 50 years from now? Those who feel to can pray to him privately or as a blessed.

  49. I guess I am saying I feel it would be better to follow the standard procedure and not the “short cut route.” Time will make it certain. After all no one can claim St Joan D’Arc was canonized due to any personal connections or powerful friends from her lifetime or due to some influential groupies. Its always best when canonizing to take one’s time and for many reasons. In certain circles in the Church the canonization of a saint is held to be infallible though there is and has been debate about it. When Fr Marciel died (and even larger number during his life were planning to pursue” his cause”) there were certain circles pushing for him to be canonized quickly. Happens with nearly anyone for a reputation for holiness but why push the envelope in those areas if it is not necessary?

  50. paulbailes says:

    IMHO one of the strongest things to be said against JP-II’s beatification is the irrational [? Why so demeaning?] cultishness of his devotees, e.g. as well-documented in the above. Pardon the strong language, [Why should we?] but by setting up JP-II as an exemplary Pope (that’s what the beatification will inevitably achieve), [That is one of the points about this beatification which can be debated. There seems to be a shift in how “heroic virtue” is to be understood.] these people are doing a great disservice to the future Church. But the cult has been rolling now for 30+ years … I have a book called “The People’s Pope” telling us in 1979 what a great man he was. Shades of B.Obama’s Nobel if you ask me. [No one did, and I think your attempt to establish any sort of moral equivalent like that is distasteful.]

    – undermined the notion of a male-only priesthood (by permitting altar girls)
    – undermined the Real Presence (by liturgical excesses) [At the same time, during his pontificate there was great growth in Eucharistic adoration.]
    – undermined the Church as sole means of salvation (by ecumenical excesses)
    – kept the TLM fettered (SP clearly implies that no Indult was really needed) [I worked for the PCED. It wasn’t everything we could have wished, but it wasn’t what you claim.]
    – appointed or left in office abusers of power and bad appointees of all kinds [And very many good ones.]
    – kept telling us how great things were since Vatican II [And also observed that many things were not good.]
    – maybe you could add more.

    I don’t think it’s accurate to trivialise these as “administrative” failings. Surely they are about the leadership Popes are supposed to offer.

    Don’t get me wrong … I am happy to think JP-II is in heaven. But there’s nothing to be gained for him by beatification. So who gains from it? [That is a good question.]

  51. Lori Pieper says:

    frjim4321 says:
    28 April 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Well, I would not quibble with any recent pope being considered for sainthood, be it John XXIII, Paul IV, JPII (assuming JPI would be out of the running) should any of them be deemed worthy of such an honor

    Not out of the unning at all; JPI’s cause is actually quite far advanced – I believe they are still waiting to turn in the positio to Rome, but everything else is done, even the investigation of the miracle. JPI would be considered fo sainthood like everyone else, because of his life and heroic virtue, not because he was Pope or how long he was Pope.

  52. JonM says:

    The juridical structure, level of faith, and raw demographic numbers collapsed during this long pontificate. As for the liturgy, so much of the liturgical abuse occurred during papal masses. The mass secularization and de-Catholicization continued during this time. And we all know what other scandal boiled over during this time.

    Regarding this youth thing, before anything it is patronizing.

    Younger people need faux rock concerts to accept the Faith? Were all of those centuries of young people progressing through minor orders or loyally accepting Holy Mother Church through ‘boring’ catechism somehow impoverished? Furthermore, let’s get real: the Youth of the John Paul II era is now the middle aged of today. Where are those vocations, large families, Catholic-based laws?

    Highlighting an anecdotal case here or there is not a legitimate argument; similarly, there were young men ‘inspired’ by Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI. Both quality and quantity matter.

    Pope St. Celestine is sure getting mentioned – quite unfairly. Pope St. Celestine spent very little time as Pope and humbly resigned, Pope John Paul II’s service is defined by his time as Vicar of Christ. So really, let’s stop this whole misrepresentation of the 13th century ascetic who languished in a dungeon for a decade. But the argument some are making is wrongheaded: ‘this one was saint didn’t have much going for him – let’s do it again!’

    I really can’t stand this lack of any regard for consequences. The facts are the facts: The Church is in a severe decline, by the numbers and faith of its members. How anyone can seriously put the previous papacy on par with, say, Pope St. Piux X is absurd.

    Example: 3/4 of Catholics who even go to Mass don’t believe in the Eucharist. Hello!

    Again, the way that 99% of onlookers see this, the term as pope is being officially ratified. The arguments that ‘his sainthood is about his personal holiness’ is cut from the same cloth of Americanist Catholics who argue their political or secular life is independent of their faith.

    Finally, how in the world can the very people who owe their positions to Pope John Paul II be objective? Not even 10 years has passed and we are one more nebulous healing away from canonizing a pope whose life was defined by a career that included pan-religious events, liturgical butchery, muddled theology, abject incompetence (at best [ehem, Marcial Maciel]) towards abusers, and the structural breakup of the Church.

    This fantasy I fear will come back so hard on the Church that it will be terrifying. Some fact regarding the abuse will come out and, rightly or wrongly, it will be given so much attention that it will become a perverse definition of the Catholic faith. Personally, I predict the contingent of NeoConservatives will at such point lose faith along with most others and we will be on the same level of influence as exotic tribes in Papua New Guinea.

    But at least there wasn’t any ‘schism.’ The suppression of SSPX, and the Tridentine Mass in general, was definitely helpful to ‘visible unity’ and promoting ‘full communion.’

  53. JonM says:

    Piece fell out of my above post:

    The pro-life movement has only become necessary because abortion, pornography, contraception, and a general hatred of life has overcome the world. And this is part and parcel due to the post-Vatican II childhood fantasy of dialogue with the world.

    Dismantling Catholicism in the public sphere (e.g., encouraging Catholic states to drop the Confessional nature of the country) directly led to the butchery we see.

    Furthermore, I see a lot of talk and not much action. Pius XII forbade Italians from voting for communists. Did John Paul II excommunicate notorious pro-abortion politicians. No, he did not.

  54. JonM says:

    Reading through these comments, I can tell you without question that the only invectives are being thrown by pro-Canonization at Traditionalists.

    I have seen Traditionalists called hateful, etc. All I see from our wing is a presentation of facts. No personal name calling, no juvinile antics. Just sincere and desperate sharing out of love of Holy Mother Church.

    I can also report that particularly hardline Protestants reading the gushing comments lauding Pope John Paul II (a Doctor of the Church??) are not being wooed to accept the Faith put it mildly.

    The Church used to have the advocatus diaboli. Frankly, people grow up and take some criticism.

  55. Hieronymus says:

    I keep seeing people reference Pope Celestine V [Peter Morrone] to justify beatifying JPII though his papacy was a disaster. They are nothing alike. Morrone’s life had nearly nothing to do with the papacy. He entered the Benedictine order at age 17, and lived a life of extreme penance (and I mean that in the fullest sense of the word) as a hermit in the wilderness. Eventually people were drawn in by his holiness, and men came to him seeking formation. The following quotations are from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

    As generally happens in the case of saintly anchorites, Peter’s desire for solitude was not destined to be gratified. Many kindred spirits gathered about him eager to imitate his rule of life, and before his death there were thirty- six monasteries, numbering 600 religious, bearing his papal name (Celestini). The order was approved, as a branch of the Benedictines, by Urban IV, in 1264.

    This mountain hermit was elected Pope at the age of 79:

    In July, 1294, his pious exercises were suddenly interrupted by a scene unparalleled in ecclesiastical history. Three eminent dignitaries, accompanied by an immense multitude of monks and laymen, ascended the mountain, announced that Pietro had been chosen pope by unanimous vote of the Sacred College and humbly begged him to accept the honour. Two years and three months had elapsed since the death of Nicholas IV (4 Apr., 1292) without much prospect that the conclave at Perugia would unite upon a candidate.

    He reluctantly accepted, but soon felt the extreme division between his new duties and the spiritual life to which he was accustomed. He even had a replica of his mountain hut built so he could live in it. Still, his papacy was a disaster, and after less than 4 months, he abdicated. The conclave was assembled and Boniface IV elected to succeed him.

    After revoking many of the provisions made by Celestine, Boniface brought his predecessor, now in the dress of a humble hermit, with him on the road to Rome. He was forced to retain him in custody, lest an inimical use should be made of the simple old man. Celestine yearned for his cell in the Abruzzi, managed to effect his escape at San Germano, and to the great joy of his monks reappeared among them at Majella. Boniface ordered his arrest; but Celestine evaded his pursuers for several months by wandering through the woods and mountains. Finally, he attempted to cross the Adriatic to Greece; but, driven back by a tempest, and captured at the foot of Mt. Gargano, he was delivered into the hands of Boniface, who confined him closely in a narrow room in the tower of the castle of Fumone near Anagni (Analecta Bollandiana, 1897, XVI, 429-30). Here, after nine months passed in fasting and prayer, closely watched but attended by two of his own religious, though rudely treated by the guards, he ended his extraordinary career in his eighty-first year. He was canonized 13 years later.

    Peter Morrone’s life is completely separable from the papacy of Celestine V — which occupied less than 4 months of his 81 years of life, and 64 years in religion. His canonization had nothing at all to do with those tragic few months, but was justified by the holiness of his life as a hermit on a mountain.

    JPII’s cause is inseparable from his papacy. He had a very typical ecclesiastical career, and was pope for over 26 years. His popular support is entirely attached to the charisma he showed while he was pope, traveling the world and exciting the masses. It is simply impossible to distinguish the man from his office. These two figures bear no resemblance to one another, except perhaps in their abilities as papal administrator. The one, recognizing this, abdicated and tried to return to the life to which he was well suited.

  56. boko fittleworth says:

    God lets us know if He wants us to recognize someone as a saint by performing miracles through that person’s intercession. JPII’s miracle is suspect.

  57. frjim4321 says:

    Think I was being very generous in supposing that the fallout over the sexual abuse crisis being only two or three generations . . . can’t imagine it being toned down even by the middle of this century. This canonization really flies in the face of that. It would have been a healthy penance to defer such rewards . . . this and being high priest of St. Mary Major. Rewarding those who failed to protect children is very hurtful to the church, not to mention victims of abuse.

  58. Hieronymus says:

    @Fr. Jim –

    I have to agree. I also suspect that there are more revelations to come after the beatification. One could strike a death blow to the Church’s moral authority by showing one of her saints was complicit in the coverup of sexual abuse. This, I think, is the primary reason for delaying this whole process. Let all the news be aired and let all of the allegations play out, then we can make a final judgment about the prudence of this beatification. But alas, the show must go on. They want to press on while the emotion is high. I think this hastiness is going to be regretted by the time the dust settles.

  59. Henry Edwards says:


    I agree about sexual abuse and its effects. But the effect of liturgical abuse in recent decades has been just as spiritually disastrous. And the two seem closely related, showing the same callous disregard of pain and suffering willfully inflicted on the faithful.

  60. frjim4321 says:

    Henry, I don’t think I agree. There have been litrugical excursions in every age, and in fact only for the past 500 or so years has there been a standardized common missal. I’m old enough to just remember the unreformed mass of the early ’60’s, and witnessed it being celebrated in a slovenly manner. I guess I would grant that liturgical abuses and sexual abuses can be analogous in that the abuse of power that is seen in the enablement of sexual abuse is also seen by many in the bullying imposition of the VC2010 upon the English-speaking church.

  61. albizzi says:

    I am sorry to say that, even if I am certain that JPII is already in Heavens, the beatification and probable canonization processes have been launched too quickly. The Church, under the pressure of the “Subito Santo” fans looks to have lost her millenial prudence.
    There were controversial sides of the late pope which would have needed to be explored instead of being dismissed. That would have certainly happened if the “Devil’s Advocate” job ad not been cancelled (forever?) by the late pope himself.
    Similar controversial points, as Fr Zuhlsdorf himself recalls them (Assisi, Koran, altar girls, Communion in the hand, new Code, too many trips, explosion of abuse cases, etc.), have prevented many of JPII’s predecessors to be canonized by the D.A.’s fierce opposition.
    John Paul II isn’t yet canonized. In the case he will be, the Church will have to apologize to some of these holy but disastrous popes.
    But my opinion is that a canonization is infallible, while a beatification isn’t.
    In that case, I bet that the Holy Spirit will stop the canonization process like It stopped that of John XXIII: Indeed, nobody cares now to make him a saint. Odd enough, isn’t it?

  62. Henry Edwards says:

    frjim, I am equally devoted to proper liturgy in both forms, and my remark about liturgical abuse had to do not with with old Mass vs. new Mass issues, but rather with the callous disregard for pain and anguish inflicted by those in power who are concerned only with their own gratification. I believe this kind of narcissism has been more visible and widespread in the liturgical arena than in any other.

  63. wolfeken says:

    I am still looking for actual facts here, and am coming up short.

    Can anyone name actual big things that were positive between 1978 and 2005 led by JPII? Ecclesia Dei does not count — any fool can realize it was merely reactionary to the SSPX.

    The only things (outside of the factual negatives regarding JPII) I have read above are based on emotion and feelings. Seriously, are there any hard facts and reasons of a positive nature that can be used to friends and family this weekend who naturally ask: “Why?”

  64. EWTN Rocks says:

    Hieronymus you said:
    “Ignored are the massive numbers (the overwhelming majority, in my experience) of kids who grew up in Catholic schools and are no longer Catholic. The once mighty Catholic school system is on the brink of extinction. But I suppose those youths don’t matter. They aren’t swaying to the rhythm of Taize and repeating trite lines about the civilization of love.”

    While I did not attend Catholic school (I always thought those who did had an advantage), I can somewhat relate to your post. A huge liberal tsunami-like wave overtook the Catholic Church in the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s, and in my humble opinion, led to the departure of thousands of Catholics. Is JPII to blame in part? I don’t know.

    I was reminiscing with my mom the other day about St. Raymond’s Catholic Church in the 1970s. Like me, she can only recall the two seminarians (John and Gene) who played guitar and led the faithful holding hands and singing songs like, “They will know we are Christians by our Love”, “If I had a Hammer”, and let us not forget the oldie but goodie “Kumbaya.”

  65. The new Code? Evidence against sanctity?

  66. Brooklyn says:

    frjim4321 – I wish the only problems with the liturgical abuses we have seen since the inception of the NO was that of being “celebrated in a slovenly manner.” There was never any changing of the words, no puppets, no clowns, no lay people gathering around the altar during Consecration, very little abuse of the consecrated hosts, since lay people were not even allowed to touch a consecrated host at that time. I’ll take “slovenly” any time over the horrendous abuses of the last 40 years.

    I may be showing my ignorance here, but what is the “VC2010 “??

  67. frjim4321 says:

    VC2010 = the transliteration of the 3rd typical edition of the Roman Missal by Vox Clara which is being imposed in November.

    In 30 years I have not seen a puppet or clown . . . think the puppet/clown thing is a straw horse . . . maybe some extreme and rare instances . . . wonder if more than 0.001% of Catholics ever saw a puppet or clown in church during a mass.

  68. MWP says:

    To Catholics in Eastern Europe (I can speak of my native Poland) John Paul II was (and is) a sign of the living presence of Christ in the public sphere. One of the first things that he said to the Poles during his first visit was “Do not be afraid” – do not be afraid to show your Catholic identity in the face of a repressive regime. Why did so many Catholics come to the papal Mass or cheered him when he came to them? Because his presence was a manifest sign of God’s presence and God’s saving plan for humanity. A man from a repressed Catholic people had become Vicar of Christ, and as Vicar of Christ, he could speak freely, and speak he did, e.g. on the dignity of man: the dignity that is not bestowed arbitrarily by a political ideology but the dignity that comes directly from God.

    Many people saw it as a miracle that Cardinal Karol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II, and that’s how I see it too, even though it is history for me (I was born in 1978).

    John Paul II’s words “Open the doors to Christ” in 1978 were part of that miracle. These were powerful words to the world, the words of a man who was not afraid to command. To me they are the heroic words of a prince of the Church. And many doors were opened, even though the “inflexible progress of history” supposedly bricked them up forever.

    The doors of so many hearts and minds, both in the east and in the west, are still closed to Christ, but he spoke to all, and is he to blame that those doors weren’t opened then (and many still remain closed?). We can, and ought, to open those doors where we can.

    That’s why I think it’s unfair to blame John Paul II for the abuses of bishops and priests who disregarded the teaching of the Church (many did so before 1978, when hardly anyone had heard of Karol Wojtyla, and many have kept doing so after 2005). In his pontificate he appealed to the personal responsibility of Catholics to “open the doors to Christ”, and probably he saw that if the bishops of the West held those doors closed in their dioceses, he was powerless to prise them open. His spiritual fight (if I may say so) was elsewhere, in Eastern Europe and in other countries whose souls were enslaved by communism but also where souls were destroyed by unbridled materialism and where lives were lost to the “civilization of death”.

    Another thing that John Paul II said in Poland is, “Let your Spirit descend and renew the face of this earth, this earth” (earth or land = it means both in Polish). That was unheard of – here was the Roman Pontiff praying, in strong, heroic language for the Holy Spirit to descend and for the grace of God to touch human souls, awaken numbed consciences, renew lives that had been tarnished by sin… He appealed for the spiritual renewal of a country that had been laid waste by “dialectic materialism”, a country that was officially striving for atheism (quite like Europe and the US now, only you don’t say that out loud…) and he prayed God renewed that country and restored its inhabitants to unity with him. That’s heroic virtue – to confront the forces of evil regardless of the consequences, and that’s what John Paul II did.

    As a comparison, just imagine any bishop or even Pope Benedict XVI saying this publicly in such a way that everyone knew it referred to the US as a country and to the Americans as a people , not just to a Catholics, not just to a select audience, no – to the whole country, to everyone in it. Just tell that to the people who want Catholics to be inclusive! ;)

    These are just a few of the most salient quotations related to Poland that I can summon from memory. To John Paul II’s critics I recommend a study of his homilies during his visits to Poland and other countries.

    John Paul II thought that the forces of evil were more potent in the East (communism) and in the West (atheistic materialism) than in minds of US bishops (although he was aware of problems there too). I think that’s how he set his priorities. We can argue about that being right or not, but it does not detract from the heroic Christian virtue that he demonstrated while confronting the first two categories of evil.

    John Paul II set an example of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and personal prayer; I see the heroic virtue here in that he never “took time off” from prayer owing to physical frailty or infirmity. Remember that he was very seriously wounded at the beginning of his pontificate in 1981.

    Despite this he did not give up an exceptionally active life as a personal witness to Christ. That’s how he saw his role – to be present as the unique Vicar of Christ and witness to the Catholic faith on all continents and among people from all walks of life.

    However, judging from some of the above comments, he fared much better with lower-educated non-Western Catholics (traditional or not…) rather than with highly-educated US or European ones (maybe I’m wrong, that’s just my personal opinion).

    A digression: John Paul II walked literally into the lion’s den when he visited the Netherlands in 1985. From the beginning he was assaulted by hordes of progressive “Catholics” and hordes of anti-Catholics. I believe he put his trust in God and knew he would be safe. That’s heroic virtue too. He believed he had to make a personal statement that was also an official statement of the Church. So he came, as the man who stood for the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of human life, to a country and society that (save for a small minority of faithful Catholics) openly rejected that teaching. He came as a witness to the teaching of the Church because he believed it was his mission as Vicar of Christ not to abandon any Catholics (few though they might be). I saw original news footage once of John Paul II in his popemobile driving through Utrecht during that visit, behind him crowds of anti-Catholic Dutch, and there was a gentle smile on his face. I am sure he was praying for those people. That’s heroic virtue for me.

    The common denominator (if I may say so) of John Paul II’s visits was: the Vicar of Christ does not forget about his flock. If the local bishops did not tend their flocks well (as I read from the comments above, they did not, apparently), then John Paul II is not to blame, in my opinion. He did send correctives but many are the cases where bishops disregarded apostolic documents. So maybe John Paul II should have excommunicated a lot of bishops, like some commenters above seem to think? I think he chose not to because if he had I believe he would have become a prisoner of the Vatican. He chose not to pick that fight (maybe – just yet ;) but instead to be present in the world (don’t think just of the Western world!).

    To end with, his strong stance against materialism, the civilization of life against the civilization of death. He did not change any of those things single-handedly, but he did not fail for not trying. Heroic virtue is not measured by material success or failure (that’s very typical of Anglo-American, in my opinion, where the superhero always wins) but by undertaking a mission with the greatest resolve and giving it one’s all until the very end, like the ancient heroes, saints and martyrs. The adjective heroic is not there for nothing. Heroes who fought losing battles are heroes nonetheless! (ok, that’s rather Polish from me ;)

    BTW, there was not one martyr who actually, at the time of his death, achieved an identifiable objective. What did the death of St. Peter in Rome actually “achieve”? And yet he’s a saint. He did not convert Nero, he did not convert Rome… he even doubted and wanted to run away… only to be met by Jesus, who turned him back to Rome… Measured by actual achievement the death of St. Peter was “a waste” – but was it? And he’s a saint and the first pope, isn’t he?

    God bless you!

    Marcin P. from Warsaw, Poland

  69. benedetta says:

    Yes we all agree there were a lot of good things and a lot of bad things. The best of times and the worst of times. I am sure we all have our could’ve, should’ves to add to the list here.

    Yet anyone who as Peter’s successor and on behalf of the whole Church would fiercely defend the culture of life to the dictatorship of relativism and the tenets of abortion, anyone who would defend the rights of human beings to assemble and openly practice their faith in countries where it was prohibited, given “the times” as they were, and yes, one who would let the young people come out to meet one another and pray together for just one weekend, who would travel the world to meet Catholics in every place and circumstance, that’s heroic virtue. His was a terrific responsibility and he met it head on with conviction, courage and yes heroic virtue.

    What is the point of all of this? That he didn’t hand out all the particular goodies that each one of us feels entitled to? To establish that the man was flawed, what? He is going to be one more intercessor for us. If you wish to rely on any one of a great number of other intercessors in your prayers, you are welcome to it.

  70. Brooklyn says:

    frjim4321 – I thought that VC2010 referred to the translation changes, but I’ve never heard that term before.

    If you google “clown masses”, you will come up with 11,400,000 results. Certainly that doesn’t mean there have been that many “clown masses”, but it does mean there has been a lot of activity there. The point is, these kind of abuses were never even heard of before the NO was introduced. I have personally never seen a clown Mass either, but there are a lot of things that go on this world that I fortunately do not have to personally witness.

  71. Geoffrey says:

    “I bet that the Holy Spirit will stop the canonization process like It stopped that of John XXIII: Indeed, nobody cares now to make him a saint.”

    You know for sure that the Holy Spirit “stopped” the cause of Blessed John XXIII? Would you mind asking Him what numbers I should play in the lottery, since you must be experiencing some sort of mystical visions or inner locutions?

    These arguments are old. It should be obvious to anyone. All movements need an enemy to focus on in order to advance their cause. It’s the classic “us vs. them” technique.

    Ven. John Paul the Great was not a liturgist and so he entrusted that to others. He was a mystic. Who can forget the images of him praying at large public liturgies with such intensity as though no one else was present but Almighty God?

    I suggest everyone watch this week’s episode of The World Over, which is dedicated to the upcoming beatification and the pontificate of the venerable servant of God. George Weigel admits that John Paul the Great’s fault was that of all holy saints: he was too patient, always giving people a 1st, a 2nd, a 3rd, a 4th chance. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like Christ to me.

  72. Brooklyn says:

    Geoffrey – glossing over JP II’s faults and even turning them into virtues can be as misguided as glossing over the good things that he did and demonizing everything he did. Just a thought.

  73. benedetta says:

    Really? Well, JPII will be an excellent intercessor for victims of abuse. For people who are abused by those in whom they have a right to trust. Psychological, sexual, verbal, physical, spiritual, abuse. For he himself put his trust in Maciel, as did his various and assorted victims. No, I expect that he will be able to relate fully in our infirmity whatever it may be.

    Do we think that the fact of the miracle is a joke? Tell that to the physicians who investigated the matter. I really do not get this total refusal to believe.

    There are a great many people this very minute in need of healing. Perhaps in our own immediate spheres of contact. John XXIII would be an excellent one to look to as well.

  74. donantebello says:

    1000 years from now JP II will be remembered for his missionary work in a Godless pagan age, for his great corpus of writings, which is larger than the corpus of St. Augustine, and steering the Church towards a greater “lex credendi,” after a time of great crisis in civilization.

    The correction of “lex orandi” taking place under B XVI wouldn’t be possible without the “lex credendi” work of JPII, which was just as much Ratzinger’s as it was Wojtyla’s.

    We know the guy was a mystic and a hero of faith for millions. He crushed communism in both hemispheres, and acknowledged that Ratzinger was more theological broad than he was. Perhaps that’s why certain people very close to the situation speculate that at the end of his pontificate he was paving the way for Ratzinger to properly deal with the Liturgy after the close of the Jubilee Year.

    If some of you spoke of JPII on Polish or Mexican soil in this manner, they would be deeply offended, in that JPII did more for the human liberation of faith and Catholic culture in those nations in which he truly is their “father.” Perhaps his beatification is for those people.

  75. Re problems in Catholic schools, statistics on contraception and disbelief in the Real Presence, etc. during and after JPII’s papacy: I do not think he (or anyone!) could have done much better than he did, even if he’d had the mind of St Thomas Aquinas and the verbal skill of St John Chrysostom. Comparing him to historical popes by results is, I think, not fair, because JPII was trying to do something so much harder than many of them. The Sexual Revolution really only broke out full scale in Paul VI’s papacy, after all. He was working with a culture more hostile than any Pope since the fourth century. And in that hostile culture, he was trying to reach out, spread the Gospel to the world, oppose Communism and all the Cold War stuff (even the 1986 Assisi meeting was a peace thing… JPII was very aware of the threat of nuclear war). His efforts were not just internal/administrative, and nor were his talents. He was chosen Pope at that time for a reason.

    And yes, he was fooled by Fr Maciel, but being impossible to deceive isn’t a requisite for beatification.

    As for not supporting the old Mass sufficiently … I don’t think the time was right yet, and I also think that if he had done Summorum Pontificum it would have hurt his witness to the people he needed to be a witness to. Benedict XVI has different talents, a different public image, a different mission.

    JPII made more errors than some Popes, yes, but he did more memorable things total, and did so more “publicly”, than the vast majority. There were always going to be more things to point at.

    As for the idea that it’s personality-driven… well, JPII had massive public acclaim (“Santo Subito!” and all that), and after all, for the first thousand years or so the whole thing was far less formalized… and nobody’s wanting to go back and question the canonization of St Patrick.

  76. @donantebello: Good point. In a way, JPII and Benedict XVI’s pontificates are connected and complementary; JPII made him a cardinal and Prefect of the CDF.

  77. benedetta says:

    Interesting that still about on a monthly basis I hear or read of a young vocation who credits her or his path to JP2 and very often traces beginning to listen to a call at a World Youth Day.

  78. Geoffrey says:

    ‘The correction of “lex orandi” taking place under B XVI wouldn’t be possible without the “lex credendi” work of JPII, which was just as much Ratzinger’s as it was Wojtyla’s.’

    Brilliantly said! Notice also John Paul’s last encyclical was on the Eucharist, and that he died during the Year of the Eucharist. He had begun to turn his attention to the liturgy in the later part of his reign, leaving Pope Benedict XVI to continue. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

  79. Tom Piatak says:


    Thanks very much from the valuable perspective from Poland. The collapse of Communism still seems almost miraculous to me, and John Paul played a major role in that collapse. It is also interesting that the countries in Europe where Catholicism is strongest are precisely those countries where John Paul is most popular, such as Poland, Slovakia, and Italy, and that the region in the world where Catholicism is growing fastest, Africa, is also a place where John Paul enjoyed tremendous popularity.

  80. Random Friar says:

    @wolfeken: I’m not sure what you’re looking for. I mean, besides being a new Leo and standing up to Communism (and Communism blinked first), or his encyclical after encyclical after encyclical, giving clear witness to truth, his witness to life, I’m not sure what else anyone can do.

  81. Random Friar says:

    @JonM: Let’s say that Vatican II opened the Catholic culture to collapse, pornography, abortion, and so forth. How exactly did that affect the rest of the world? Or was the rest of the world already affecting Catholicism? And what would a then-mostly Protestant America care what the Pope said?

    The pro-life movement has only become necessary because abortion, pornography, contraception, and a general hatred of life has overcome the world. And this is part and parcel due to the post-Vatican II childhood fantasy of dialogue with the world.

    Jon, this is emotion-based invective, not reason. And again, how would the Vatican’s dialogue with the world lead the entire world into the abyss of pornography and abortion? Quite a large portion of the world does not care what the Vatican thinks. As I mentioned, I think it’s fair to critique some of the things Bl. Pope John Paul II did, some of his policies, administrative style, etc. You can even debate as a matter of prudence the speed of the canonization. But frankly, there’s a lot of invective heading toward Bl. Pope John Paul II (who would not be Blessed by any means without Pope Benedict XVI. Who also wrote a rather nice book about him). I think everyone is still expecting the heady days of Pope Innocent III. The world changes, it goes back and forth, waxes and wanes.

    I do know something about the Devil’s Advocate. My order has a proud and long history on both sides of the table. It makes for some great reading!

  82. JonM says:

    Promise, last post on this!

    A real benefit of waiting a generation or two is that if canonizing John Paul II is for the good of the faithful, imagine the good graces that we will gain by patiently letting some time pass.

    It could well turnout that history views his pontificate as a true turning point, that he performed a herculean effort in his role. At such time, his canonization would be a unifying, joyous event to celebrate.

    Respectfully, as things are now, this is a divisive event that is not exactly unifying Traditionalists with those who prefer the Novus Ordo. Just a final thought on this.

  83. Hieronymus says:


    Let’s assume for the sake of argument that JPII’s “encyclical after encyclical” were actually fully orthodox and clear (a highly controversial point). His office was not simply to be the Supreme Scribe. He was supposed to be the head of the universal Church.

    His witness and inspiration were daily undercut and destroyed by the bishops he appointed, and for 25+ years, he did nothing to stop them. They persecuted not just traditionalists, but conservatives of all stripes. The Catholic education system was a scandal, the atrocities that took place in the liturgy are well documented, there was a massive proliferation and cover-up of sexual abuse, and the list goes on. Those who tried to do anything about it were maligned in their parishes, marginalized by their bishops, and completely ignored by Rome. Even when the evidence of episcopal wrongdoing was irrefutable, JPII did nothing. There are bishops who have openly supported women’s ordination and contraception and more. JPII’s inaction in the face of these cases could be equated with the “catholic” politician’s “I’m personally pro-life, but…”
    For example, after decades of public outcry over all manner of abuse of office fell on deaf ears in Rome, Archbishop Rembert Weakland admitted to having had an affair with a male seminarian. When his resignation was accepted, Rome mentioned only age as the reason (he was 75), and he continued to serve in the Archdiocese afterward, helping with Confirmations and the like. He is far from alone. JPII turned a deaf ear to Catholics suffering under the wolves he appointed for 25 years. No amount of “inspirational” chatter can make up for the way things actually played out in the trenches. JPII was once a beloved figure in my household, but after years and years of appealing to him to be saved from the local bishop, I began to weary of his message of “hope”. We looked to our father to protect us, coming to him with black eyes and bruises that the babysitter gave us, and were completely ignored. “Don’t worry son, we are building a civilization of love!” doesn’t really cut it at that point. Trite slogans about the new springtime provide little comfort when you find out you’ve sent your children to a high school where the bishop decided to station a known sexual abuser.

    His message may have been hopeful to some, but as he refused to be the father of his children and not just their inspiration, his words seem rather empty.

  84. benedetta says:

    Hieronymous, I certainly can sympathize with this from where I am and the situation locally in which I was raised. Much of what you describe falls into the realm of omission, as far as I can observe and it’s sneaky, it’s underhanded, undermining. It’s a little hard for a Pope to step in with a Bishop and say “Why are you pretending as if I don’t exist, as if the magisterium isn’t really there, as if there is no Church.” I realize that when the vacuum occurs there are also occurrences which are actively, as Fr. Z said in his article for WaPo, openly defiant. It’s a little like what Fr. Pfleger is doing, or Fr. Roy. They are counting on the scold. They desire it and court it openly. They stir the pot and hold good people of faith hostage to their bitter agendas. They seek to entrap the “mean hierarchy” to prove themselves righteous and confirm their assertions about the hierarchy to their followers who they seek to separate from the Church. It is their choice and for the Bishops who openly defy JPII and now this Pope as well, it is entirely their choice alone. No one threatened them and no one sought retribution. These Popes led with the mercy of Our Lord. I know it’s no comfort to those of us who have lived through the carnage to the faith, the destruction, but there is wisdom in that leadership. The fact that the faith endures, and even thrives, despite the best efforts of some to obliterate, is a testament to the faith itself. I agree that the line that the vocations crisis willed the participation of greater lay people became a distortion. The results agitated for may not in fact have been those results willed by the Holy Spirit at all. But, the fact that choices were made by some priests and Bishops, that ran the gamut and included abuse of trust in so many ways, just made the need to reconcentrate on the need to follow the universal Christian call to holiness all that much more apparent, obvious. I do not blame JPII for permitting Bishops and priests to make their own choices. They did not want to follow JPII and now with a new Holy Father who is a different person, a man of wisdom and hope in his own right, and they have not changed direction, by any means in fact it is most obvious that with each step they opt to go farther and farther from the Church and the path set forth by the Holy Father. And Vatican II never dreamed of such a thing. But these leaders are not accountable only to the Pope and to the people of the Church. They are ultimately accountable for their actions to God as is each one of us. Like the bride and groom who squandered their joy on so many pointless things (as in the other post of this week on this blog), the Church still believes that it is never too late for them.

  85. albizzi says:

    The purported “miracle” chosen to support JPII’s beatification would never have been declared as such if it had been tested through the same filter that is used since more than one century for the miracles of Lourdes:
    Only 67 miracles have been approved by the Church among several THOUSANDS being declared.

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