What’s this all about anyway?

I was asked, “What are all these Pope canonizations really about, anyway? Are they all saints? Paul VI? Every Pope? Except… like … any Pius? Really?”

I wrote about this a long time ago. More and more people, I now read, are coming around to what I proposed many moons back.


Even as many are now asking pretty good questions about both interpretation and, at last, content, these canonizations are also about putting the definitive Seal of Approval on Vatican II™. You could say it is a canonization of the Council.

They are not only that. They are also that.

Another point we have to wonder about is how some of the underlying principles in arguments for the heroic life of virtue is drifting or evolving. I detect a shift. This is also something I have written in before.

So, we may as well lean back and watch the next couple of days with attention and patience.

I am observing them by paying less attention to all the newsie stuff which I usually follow with laser focus.

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  1. Magpie says:

    This is an excerpt from a comment I made elsewhere (a liberal blog!):

    I come from, as you all will know, from the conservative/traditionalist standpoint, and I am not content with the rush to canonise these two popes. What’s the rush? Why skip miracles, and why accept possibly dubious miracles? I think that these things need time, and the Church thinks in centuries, not decades. Certainly we can wait. The rush to canonise undermines the whole process and, amongst other things, does a disservice to the memory of the person concerned and to the good of the process and its credibility. I think the Church needs to proceed with great care and prudence, and I fear this is not being done in this case. We need to bring back the devil’s advocate and the need for miracles. Whilst Pope Pius XII waits quietly in line (because of the doubts about his WWII record due to pressure from modern Jewish lobbies), we see a rush to canonise JPII, who stands accused of not having done enough for the sexual abuse situation. Whether he did or not is now seemingly irrelevant. The man and the Church deserve to take the time to look into the facts carefully, and without any pressure. Again, what is the rush? We should be slow to canonise any pope, and few have been canonised over the years. I feel a certain sadness for the memory of Pope John Paul II; I think he, and we, deserve better than this; we deserve time. The Church deserves to take the time.

  2. I’ve also been thinking that the underlying principles for heroic virtue are now evolving. Evolving to the Church of PC. This is why they wouldn’t also include Pius XII in the next round – too politically incorrect, I suppose.

  3. Father, not to have a spittle-flecked nutty, but it seems that any drift from strict to lax standards in declaring saints is an awful development for Mother Church, is it not? So much of these canonizations seems off to me, I have the same unsettled feeling that Benedict’s abdication and Francis’ election engendered. It’s a bizarre time in Church history.

  4. HighMass says:

    Its Hands Down For St. John Paul II, after all just look at his Life, Suffering, Childhood, Pontificate…..John XIII, is hard to get excited about….after all someone who allowed the Church to be open to the modern world…..and then it went off the rails….well at least the Liturgy…..and one can’t blame JohnXIII for the Liturgy after all he was long gone when the N.O. was implimented….
    No put downs intended by has anyone ever thought about Pius XII????? What a shame we are still waiting for him to be raised to Sainthood…..

    Again just thoughts not condemnation……Vatican II everyone acts like there was no church prior to it….well look at its fruits!

  5. Andrew says:

    One might also think of this as a “definitive Seal of Approval of Veterum Sapientia™ [HA!]
    which teaches that:

    Bishops … shall be on their guard lest anyone under their jurisdiction, eager for revolutionary changes, writes against the use of Latin in the teaching of the higher sacred studies or in the Liturgy.

    In accordance with numerous previous instructions, the major sacred sciences shall be taught in Latin.

    Hence professors … are required to speak Latin and to make use of textbooks written in Latin. If ignorance of Latin makes it difficult for some to obey these instructions, they shall gradually be replaced by professors who are suited to this task. (John XXIII, Veterum Sapientia)

    Or an approval of statements such as:

    [Young people] will understand that these words of Cicero are somehow referred to them: “It is not so distinguished to know Latin as it is pitiful not to know it”. (John Paul II (27, Nov. AD. 1978, AAS 71 (1979) 45.)

  6. I have a hard time with these canonizations…but I trust and have faith and accept and am trying to listen and be patient.

    I am asking for the intercession of Blessed John Paul II for a specific intention, not only for that intention but also to help me “get over” my own opinions and feelings in this area. So far I have seen my prayers being answered…

  7. Imrahil says:

    It is what it is: the definitive seal of approval that the Bll. servants of God John Paul II and John XXIII are in heaven.

  8. St Donatus says:

    I am trying to figure out this new trend of making all the Popes saints. In the last 700 years the Church only made saints of two Popes, and these for very outstanding reasons. Now after Vatican II, and the destruction of much of the Church with 80% of Catholics not attending Mass (and not even recognizable as Christians), Churches closing everyday, the clergy sexual abuse, most religious leaving their respective orders, we have two new saints and perhaps another. I can understand Pope John Paul as a saint, he did some really great things, but so quickly while all the other post Vatican II Popes are moving down the line for sainthood.
    If anyone can explain to me the reasoning for this, I would love to know.

  9. tcreek says:

    A little history of the last 5 popes who were canonized and the time it took.

    Pope Saint Gregory VII – 643 years – Died in 1085, canonized in 1728

    Pope Saint Pius V – 140 years – Died in 1572, canonized in 1712.
    Saint Pius V implemented the reforms of the Council of Trent including the Roman Catechism. He promulgated the 1570 Roman Missal used until 1970.

    Pope Saint Pius X – 40 years – died in 1914, canonized in 1954.
    One of 10 children in a poor Italian family. Mindful of his humble origin, he stated “I was born poor, I lived poor, I will die poor.”

    Pope St John XXIII – 51 years – died in 1963, canonized in 2014

    Pope Saint John Paul II – 9 years – died in 2005, canonized in 2014

    (Motives for pairing the last 2 canonizations seems more political than spiritual, to me. If I had my druthers, the 2 new saints would be Pope Saint Pius XII (55 years) and Pope Saint Benedict XVI (0 Years).

  10. Geoffrey says:

    The beatification of Blessed Pius IX and Blessed John XXIII was also considered “political” back when Blessed John Paul II beatified them. The reason stated at the time was to emphasis continuity; that there was no “pre-Vatican II Church” and “post-Vatican II Church”. Which is true.

    The people who believe the falsehood are the same ones who praise Bl. John XXIII for being so “liberal” and “modernizing” and condemn Bl. John Paul II for “undoing” the work of the Council; and then on the other side of the coin, you have those who believe every pontiff after Vatican II was a modernizing liberal. Unadulterated nonsense on all counts.

    Deo gratias and laudetur Iesus Christus whenever Holy Mother Church elevates holy souls to the altar of the saints!

  11. Suburbanbanshee says:

    JonathanCatholic said: “…. it seems that any drift from strict to lax standards in declaring saints is an awful development for Mother Church, is it not?”

    Heh. You don’t read much in the way of Irish martyrologies, I can tell.

    First off, there was a long time when people thought it was weird and lax to have any non-martyr saints whatsoever. But St. John, right? Apostle, didn’t die a martyr, obviously favored by the Lord. Okay fine, maybe we can have non-martyr saints. If you’re almost like a martyr. Like you did heroic things in the desert and stuff. A white martyr.

    And then, it pretty much got to the point, all over Christendom, where anybody who lived a holy life in the desert, or started a monastery, or was one of the first few abbots or abbesses, or did something holy, was considered to be probably a saint. And the people could declare saints, and bishops could declare saints, and abbots and abbesses could declare saints, and there were tons of saints. Tons.

    And then, you have various forms of pushback, like St. Martin of Tours doing CSI Gaul and discovering that a “holy martyr’s tomb” was actually the tomb of a criminal gang, or people from outside the area finding out that St. Guinefort was a dog (albeit a locally legendarily heroic dog). And then the canonization systems came about, where the popes took control of who was raised to the altars.

    But we still have a lot of local systems for remembering at a Mass on the right day pretty much everybody who’s ever been a priest in a diocese, for instance. You still have pre-conciliar, pre-canonization saints being recognized more or less officially. It’s not like we have to be checking saint IDs all the time. So yeah, to a certain extent I’m pretty unworried about it.

  12. mburn16 says:

    “while all the other post Vatican II Popes are moving down the line for sainthood.
    If anyone can explain to me the reasoning for this, I would love to know.”

    Well, probably a big part of it has to do with the fact that there is far greater familiarity with their pontificates. Even if I took a group of somewhat older, relatively well informed Catholics…many of them would probably be hard pressed to come up with significant details about, say, Pius IX or Benedict XV. And, for lack of modern media, a lot of Catholics alive at the time they were Pope probably would have had similar difficulty. But Vatican II was right about the same time the world came fully into the information age. And so we’re a lot more familiar with John XXIII (the “good Pope”), and Paul VI (the “pilgrim Pope”), and so on.

    I don’t really have problems with Sainthood for John XXIII – as its been pointed out, skipping the requirement for a second miracle is hardly unprecedented, and since we already have one miracle…its not really premature. The only disappointing thing for me is that this is going to more closely associate John XXIII (who was probably the most Conservative Pope between him and his successors) with the “liberal” Vatican II, even though that was much more the doing of Paul VI. There’s the saying that he opened the windows to let in some fresh air, and was blown backwards by the hurricane-force winds. In making him a Saint for his calling of the Council, Pope Francis seems to imply that he did so immediately after reading the weather forecast.

  13. Suburbanbanshee says:

    P.S. First off, let’s not wish the Pope Emeritus off the planet just yet! And second, your great theologians usually take freaking forever to canonize, because they write so much and you need to do so much doctrinal scrutiny. Look at poor St. Albert the Great, who had healings at his grave pretty much all the time, but still wasn’t canonized until last century.

  14. Paliakas1 says:

    These canonizations are a train wreck for the church. In the JPII case, they are putting the rock star on the pedestal. How can you make a pope a saint and ignore his pontificate – Father Maciel, communion in the hand, female altar servers, Koran kissing, the false ecumenical meetings at Assisi, it goes on and on and on. It is a simple question, was the church better off at the end of the pontificate then it was at the beginning. The answer is simply no, not even close to being better off.

  15. CatholicinCA says:

    To reply to St. Donatus, as the good book says–where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more! I would say it would take an extra bit of grace and saintliness to lead the Church through the trying times that they did. Not to say that non-canonized Popes didn’t do their best as well. These men worked hard in their vocation as Shepard, and also in their relationship with Christ and that’s something we should all admire and aspire to.

  16. Bob Glassmeyer says:


    Well said! It’s good to see that kind of dichotomy go the way of the dodo, but one can still see and hear of it at times. I’m not terribly fond of ideologies held to as orthodoxy, whether said ideology is “mod” or “trad.”

    As for political connotations of this or that in the Church, it’s not too hard to find, as things don’t happen in a vacuum. Still, one can fall into the falsehood of thinking of something as being consummately political and nothing more.

    I’m staying away from the media circus that will doubtless surround the canonizations, and this will include the circus that will develop in some Catholic media circles. I’ll probably let it simmer awhile, and return to it perhaps after Easter time.

    But I am excited, because, among other reasons, I think it will be a day of joy for the Church, and I plan to celebrate with yellow and white bunting on the front porch, with portraits on the sancti papi as well. And I’ll have a 3 Philosophers Belgian beer to toast the saintly men.

  17. Paliakas1 says: These canonizations are a train wreck for the church. In the JPII case, they are putting the rock star on the pedestal. How can you make a pope a saint and ignore his pontificate – Father Maciel, communion in the hand, female altar servers, Koran kissing, the false ecumenical meetings at Assisi, it goes on and on and on.

    I guess the answer to this is Pope St. Celestine V, whose pontificate was disastrous out of all proportion to its length (5 months). Even Dante in the Inferno placed him (at least apparently, since he was not named) in hell; but the Church places him in heaven.

  18. norancor says:

    When you remove the need for two miracles, increase the impatience by rushing to canonize, and reduce the proper role of the Devil’s Advocate, the resulting canonization becomes little more than a popularity contest. I don’t see any reasonable thought process that would think these canonizations are infallible… that’s for darn sure. It cheats both John XXIII and John Paul II of the ability to manifest their intercessory efficacy as well.

  19. robtbrown says:

    Paliakas1 says:

    It is a simple question, was the church better off at the end of the pontificate then it was at the beginning. The answer is simply no, not even close to being better off.

    You seem not to have a clue what life what like during the papacy of Paul VI. Seminarians and religious in formation were commonly told women were going to be ordained, and contraception was OK. Those who disagreed were pushed out. Anything said by the Soviet Union would cause pontifical knee knocking.

  20. dotKomo says:

    I would propose that while it would seem during our lifetime, the apparent fruits of Vatican II appear dubious, we need to understand that its fruits will be measured better by future generations. Sometimes the tree needs to be pruned to stimulate growth. While the church of the west has suffered, it is flourishing in other parts of the world. I am hopeful we are seeing the beginnings of the growth of the church after the seeds planted by Pope St. John Paull II.

    Paliask1. – if you have not done so, read “Witness to Hope” and then revisit your opinion of Karol Wojtyla

  21. kpoterack says:

    Amen, robtbrown. I was a junior in high school when JPII was elected. I remember Catholic life as it was pre-1978. No question that JPII was remarkable in what he achieved – Universal Catechism, Code of Canon Law, Indults for the Trid. Mass (which set the stage for Summorum Pontificum), Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, etc. You can criticize him on some things, but he set the stage for all of the solidly orthodox Catholic apostolates we have now . . . inculding wdtprs!

  22. Robbie says:

    What’s the rush? That’s what I wondered last summer when these canonizations were announced, especially for JPII. But more importantly, can the canonization process really be taken seriously so long as Pius XII’s cause languishes? And now comes word that Paul VI is set to be beatified in the Fall. Is every VII pope a saint (with the exception of B16 of course!)?

    I have no doubt both John XXIII and JPII lived saintly, heroic lives, but the canonization process has become a political football. Clearly, politics, both inside and outside the Church, has played a role in Pius XII’s cause not moving forward. And I have no doubt both men are being canonized for many great reasons, but it also seems clear this is an attempt to canonize VII.

  23. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    I have been thinking about this, too, and first I want to say, well, before that we need to be, well, it’s time that….oh never mind. Nope. You know.

  24. robtbrown says:

    Anita Moore OPL says:

    I guess the answer to this is Pope St. Celestine V, whose pontificate was disastrous out of all proportion to its length (5 months). Even Dante in the Inferno placed him (at least apparently, since he was not named) in hell; but the Church places him in heaven.

    I have never bought the reference to St Celestine as an adequate answer. He was known as a holy man before he was dragged into the papacy.

  25. Back pew sitter says:

    The Church recognises, by All Saints Day, that many are in heaven who are not declared saints. Canonisation should be for those who are exceptional. Even if all the Popes who ever lived are in heaven there is no need to canonise many of them. In my view Karol Wojtyla was an exceptional human being – an exceptional layman, priest, bishop and Pope. For me his canonisation is a reason for much rejoicing.

  26. jacobi says:

    “putting the definitive Seal of Approval on Vatican II™.”

    What is there to approve? As Pope Benedict Emeritus said,

    “The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council”.

    End of story!

  27. robtbrown says: I have never bought the reference to St Celestine as an adequate answer. He was known as a holy man before he was dragged into the papacy.

    I was responding to someone who thought the issue in canonizing popes should be the quality of the pontificate. My point was to raise contrary precedent.

  28. VexillaRegis says:

    Well, at least J XXIII will be the perfect patron for comedians! Here are some examples from an article on CNS: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1401197.htm LOL!

  29. robtbrown says:

    I don’t mind the canonization process being political, but I have to wonder whether the criteria now are such that they can do what they want (within certain limits). Heroic virtue doesn’t mean that every act is heroically virtuous, but it does mean that virtue perdures over long periods of time and/or during difficult times that militate against virtuous acts. Thus a bishop who is not a man of his word habitually or in very difficult circumstances is not virtuous, heroically or otherwise.

  30. robtbrown says:

    Anita Moore OPL says:

    I was responding to someone who thought the issue in canonizing popes should be the quality of the pontificate. My point was to raise contrary precedent.

    I know. My point is that Celestine doesn’t qualify because his few months as pope are not why he was considered holy.

  31. tcreek says:

    Many object to calling the canonization of Pope John Paul a “train wreck” but I believe that if it had not been for Cardinal Ratzinger at The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith his papacy WOULD have left the rails. Liturgically, many of the Piero Marini Masses of Pope John Paul gave cover to the experimenters. Pope Benedict’s papacy boldly countered those “train wrecks”.

  32. Lori Pieper says:

    In what sense is Venerable Pope Pius XII’s cause “languishing” or being neglected? Pope Benedict had a great deal of work to do to bring his cause along in the teeth of outside opposition (various ignorant Jewish and secular groups). He’s been declared Venerable. The only thing he needs now is proven miracle. Those can’t just be manufactured. Every canonized person needs at least one miracle Even Pope John had to have a miracle to be beatified, though Pope Francis has waved the second miracle.

    Instead of complaining, why not pray for Pius XII’s intercession for every sick person you know? It just takes one special case. That’s what I would do.

  33. Lori Pieper says:

    I do also have to point out that while many here (including myself), think Benedict is a saint and may one day be canonized, plenty of bad things happened during his pontificate. Secularization continued at a rapidly accelerating rate under his watch. But no one seems to be blaming him for it. A bit of a double standard?

  34. Mike says:

    I would also add: a Pope does have to, at some point, trust the information he is getting. Unless you want KGB-type transcripts of bugged chancellories. Thus many of the negative things that happened under JPII really were not his direct fault–at all.

    A Pope is the Vicar of Christ, but he can’t be just, chaste, prudent, or faithful for ME.

  35. kimberley jean says:

    I have a nagging feeling that after the canonizations something about Marciel is going to come out and we’ll all be left with egg on our faces.

  36. Dear Father Z, Thank you for opening up this discussion. Yes, controversy is so tiring but y’know? This is not the sheeps’ fault. Something is transpiring that I don’t understand. I am no Recognize and Resistor, not a Sede Vacentes, not a SSPXer… [although i see their points and sympathize with a lot of the positions] I am sticking with the visible Church but like others here, I am very confused about what to think of the canonizations of John-Paul II and John XXIII. I am in anguish.

    Comparing the canonization process before and after the 1983 changes makes me cry. The court-like juridical process that included many steps, vetted miracles, and the Devil’s Advocate are all thrown out. Can a canonization resulting from a broken process be a real canonization? Why aren’t all the questions and concerns of the life of Karol Wojtyla being answered as these would have been before 1983? What is being hidden from us? If there is nothing to them, then state it. I compare this to the passage of Obamacare in the U.S. – don’t read it, just pass it quickly. [Which they did.]

    Reading Father Luigi Villa’s biography of John-Paul II [Karol Wojtyla Beatified?…Never!] brings up questions that should have been dealt with but instead have been ignored and suppressed. [Father Luigi was assigned by Pius XII to ferret out Masons in the Church.)

    Frankly what these two canonizations are doing for me is making me doubt the validity of canonization/blessed/venerable/servant of God of everyone since the process changed in 1983. If they can ram through the process like this, what else have they done? I am aware that many of the same so-called-saints today when they were vetted before the changes of 1983, did not meet the criteria of the Church for such titles.

    What does heaven think? Flooding Lourdes before the relic of JPII arrived? The giant JPII crucifix falling and killing a youth? Is this meaningful?

    During the Passion, how it must have impressed the apostles and disciples as the hierarchy of the Sanhedrin put Jesus to death. The laity went along, led by the evildoers in the hierarchy.

  37. Polycarpio says:

    For the first 300 years of the Church, every single pope who reigned during that time is recognized as a saint. And no one questions it. And that’s considering that, during that time, we didn’t have a Congregation for the Causes of Saints or a formal canonization process. It seemed to be an unwritten rule that the successor of St. Peter, elected by the Church as Christ’s Vicar down here on earth, is a saintly person. We call the Pope “Your Holiness” and “Holy Father,” not merely as a protocol of an archaic clericalism, but out of the conviction that the Pope is saintly. My view has always been that the Church went astray when it made its popes monarchs, and that the latter popes, who have successively pushed the papacy to a purely spiritual office have in so doing it restored it to holiness. Therefore, it seems to me that the answer to the opening question is YES: every Pope should be a saint. That should be our default position. If some take longer or shorter to canonize than others, if a few have problematic issues, that should not trouble us. But to question the whole basic premise of a saintly papacy seems to me, well, plain unCatholic.

  38. Uxixu says:

    “Quality” of the Pontificate doesn’t matter to me personally nearly as much as the idea of a bonafide miracle attributed to the Saint, though my faith by definition doesn’t require “proof” to believe. I trust Holy Mother Church in this regard. That said, I am wary about changing procedures, particularly if they’re more permissive. If I could have my way, it would be as it was set down by the Fathers and maintained through the millennia.

    Much as the current political trend towards naming aircraft carriers a moratorium for a few decades to get a better sense of perspective would be far greater quibbling over the details of x number of miracles and the Devil’s Advocate, etc. What is say, 50 years in the face of the history of Holy Mother Church and the examples of all the Saints in the Martyrology?

  39. Geoffrey says:

    “I have a nagging feeling that after the canonizations something about Marciel is going to come out and we’ll all be left with egg on our faces.”

    This has been dealt with ad nauseam. Aside from the fact that Maciel was a master deceiver, Blessed John Paul II was very hesitant to believe accusations leveled at clerics because that was one of the methods of the Communists in Poland. Before his election to the Petrine Ministry, plans were afoot to falsify a diary, detailing unholy encounters between a woman and the future pontiff.

  40. msc says:

    I don’t know enough about the details of the miracles to be certain, but I too trust the Church in these matters. After all, if people have prayed to JP II and believed him to be appropriately holy, and there have been two miracles, then he is a saint, regardless of whatever administrative errors happened during his pontificate. I believe he was a great man, an immensely holy man, and that his life qualifies him for sainthood. It was his intelligence, faith, holiness, and the model of Christianity that brought me to the Church. I don’t really care if during his papacy some jurisdictions started offering communion in the hand and female altar servers: I don’t like those things, but I also don’t think they are essentially non-Catholic (I don’t think the Church *as a whole*, ipso facto, does anything that it essentially non-Catholic), I don’t think kissing a Koran as a sign of respect for it as a holy book and the source of hundred of millions’ peoples faith is a sign of apostasy, and what is wrong with talking to other Christian faiths (“the false ecumenical meetings at Assisi”)? I won’t continue with the list of objectionable things that almost any sainted pope can be found to have done, and a great many non-papal saints, too. Simply put, saints do not have to have led infallible lives. Some of these complaints sound like the usual sour grapes from Lefevrists….
    As an aside, I personally know someone that was an outside medical expert in one miracle that was being investigated, and talking to her gave me great confidence in the sanctification process.

  41. The Masked Chicken says:

    “While the church of the west has suffered, it is flourishing in other parts of the world.”

    I am not sure that this has to be an either/or situation. Why not hope for the West? How can one be certain of the Southeast Asia/Africa trend? The simple fact of the matter is that we do not quite understand the times. We know, for instance that, universally, since 1970, wherever the standard-of-living has gone up, contraception has gone up in lock-step. In the Southeast/Africa bloc, poverty is still high, but wait until they gain a measure of real prosperity before blowing a trumpet announcing a golden age in the Church in those parts. Let us see what they do when they reach economic parity with the West. My guess is that, they, too, will begin liberalizing Catholicism to the point where it becomes unrecognizable. There is a reason that asceticism is at the root of authentic growth in the faith. It is easier to be ascetical when the lure of ease is not pulling at one.

    We simply do not understand the times. The shrinking gene pool, exactly a result of contraception, is, eventually, going to cause a type of regression to the mean in the human population. In order for there to be exceptional men, there must, first, be exceptional cases and population trends are rapidly converging on safety – the safe pregnancy, the over-control of circumstances, the lack of daring. When was the last time you saw a, “daring,” marriage?

    To say that the soon-to-be canonized popes have stood watch during the dismantling of the West would be a fallacy. The West has been morally disintegrating since the Industrial Revolution at the very least, but, likelier, since the Enlightenment. It has been the clash of science and religion which has, fundamentally, been at the heart of the downfall of the West (Modernism is, after all, simply a type of improper empiricism applied to theology) and it was precisely this that Vatican II was supposed to mediate. It has fail, so far, because the general population, so enamored of the progress of science, has failed to understand that theology is a valid science, too. We can thank our Protestant brethren for that. They preach a theology of the heart and that will never stand against a science of the head. Real Catholicism welcomes controversy – nay, it thrives in its face. It is a Church of both the heart and the head. What we have nearly lost and have been losing, at least since the end of WWII, is the sense of adventure in the Catholic Church (note, I did not say experimentation).

    The blood flow from Vatican II has been stopped at the heart and has not really circulated throughout the entire body of the Church. It may be true that Vatican II defined no new dogmas, but it certainly put a spin on the already existing ones. In that sense, it is a new kind of Council. It is not a Council of definitions. It is a Council of interpretations. The thing is that interpretations, first of all, exist in the head and then lead to actions in the heart, but a Cartel of Change got hold of the rudder of Vatican II and forced the actions to come first without adequate understanding of their consequences. So, we have a free-running Church without the guidance of rigor or thought. Until these are restored, the Church will never be able to walk in discourse with science, which has a well-defined and unwaivering methodology and Vatican II will be considered a failure. It seems odd to say that a Council can be a failure, since, after all, a Council is a definitive act of authority, but of all of the Councils in history, Vatican II is the first Council that has not been true to itself – we see this every day in the many distorted interpretations invoked in the name of the Spirit of Vatican II.

    It might be proper to call the current canonizations canonizations of an idea – the idea that dogmas must be situated within the times to which they must be applied. What does the dogma of the Immaculate Conception mean in a time when babies are made in test tubes? Never before has dogma had to be so situated in such unfamiliar territory. This, if anything was the real unrealized promise of Vatican II. The problem is that the Cartel of Change has been holding onto the rudder of the Church with such passion that, perhaps, the popes of this generation should be canonized simply because they haven’t let the Church be steered completely off of the earth.

    Right now, the passion of the Church is shifting back to the east, but I worry that they will not have the wisdom and patience to see beyond their passion. Perhaps, when the West has grown cold, when the fire of passion has almost completely burned out, the head may stir and the West will lead the way to a more mature blending of the head and the heart. Older married couples plumb the depth of their relationships only when the passion of youth has died out.

    I have no idea what the future will bring. Progress in science comes from a relentless disdain for past truths, while progress in theology comes from the accumulation of truths from the past. The future must be guided by a maturity that allows for both the brashness of truth and the stability of truth and until science realizes that there are eternal truths and theology realizes that those truths must be applied to ever new situations, all will be lost for both the material and the moral sciences.

    These are canonizations of a promise that has yet to be accomplished. Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II are pioneers of the promise that all search for truth may, one day, come under a single holy banner, but they are pioneers, only. They are pioneers who clear out the land, but we must await for future generations to build something meaningful on it. I suppose, in the end, these canonizations ask the urgent question: what types of saints are needed in the world, today.

    The Chicken

    p. s. I have no idea if any of the above makes any sense, but there is definitely a history being played out before our very eyes. One can feel the forces at work. Never has the clang of materialism and morality sounded louder. In the old days, men could, for the most part, merely talk about the material fabric of the universe, but in our times, we can actually manipulate it. My thought is that Vatican II started out with the idea of confronting this new reality and got steered in a different direction. There is still an urgent need for a rapprochement between the forces of material progress and the wisdom of the Church. This was Pope John XXIII’s original ideal. We are fiddling around with many secondary issues (however important), while the history of science is being played out, without guidance, in front of our eyes. If there is nothing new under the sun, then on must ask when this history has been seen, before. That is, certainly, a topic for a meditation.

  42. bourgja says:

    Waiving the second miracle for the canonization of Pope John XXIII does not do him or his memory any favors. He will always be a saint with an asterisk, canonized because of the impatience of Pope Francis to wait for heaven’s confirmation of his presence there.

  43. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Well, at least J XXIII will be the perfect patron for comedians!”


    There already is one: St. Genesius of Rome

    The Chicken

  44. The Masked Chicken says:

    I am just, now, connecting the dots. Fr Z. is in Rome for the canonizations…wow, where have I been???

    The Chicken

  45. Chicken: I was ordained a priest by John Paul II and I knew him (and he knew me).

  46. HobokenZephyr says:

    Reading these responses makes me sad. People have received miraculous cures as a result of prayers for the intercession of JPII, who lived a public life of heroic witness to the Gospel. But that’s not good enough because … it all happened too fast?!? Because a cause was opened immediately? Because the people working on the documentation did so with great speed rather than sitting on documents because “tomorrow is good enough”? Because a religious order prayed for the cure of their sister? Because B16 approved the first miracle too quickly? Because the cure of the aneurism on the day of his beatification was too quick?

    Enough of this nonsense — rejoice that one of our brothers has been found worthy of heaven and that Holy Mother Church has the opportunity to raise him to the glory of the altar.

  47. benedetta says:

    Can we ever have too many pope saints?

    I don’t know enough to be able to form an opinion about the processes so I’m trusting in Holy Mother Church on this. I just know that I could certainly use the intercession of both, in the times we are living in, such as they are. I wonder if the “Santo Subito” was not so much a judgment of heroic sanctity but of a cri de coeur in terms of the need for one who understood the situation of our time so well to intercede now for us as we continue on without him. Also as to Pope John XXIII. One could look at it this way, given the threats and the forces aligned against the Church during their papacy, if they hadn’t brought their unique gifts, of whatever sort, to bear in their calling, and it would certainly have been quite easy to take the easier roads and no one would have blamed them, wouldn’t the Church be in much worse shape?

  48. StJude says:

    I just wonder how this will be looked at 100 years from now.

    I think they are Saints but.. what was the rush other than pure emotion?

    On a positive.. I have a rosary blessed by Pope John Paul… so I can say I have a rosary blessed by a Saint!

  49. Athelstan says:

    I actually have an easier time with the canonization of John XXIII, a pope who was a lot more traditional than most people credit (though the proper creditors can be found on this combox above), than I do John Paul II, whose biography was more obviously…heroic. At least in certain respects.

    For the latter, the real problem is not the egregious failure to deal with large scale clerical sexual abuse and its coverup – a sin of omission, albeit an egregious one – or even his abuse of the liturgy, but rather his repeated perpetration of scandals of indifferentism, which were not by any means confined to Assisi. His devotion to Christ seems sincere and deep, which is what makes his often appalling lapses in the pursuit of ecumenical and interreligious outreach so perplexing. And it’s more than just lapses of prudence, mistakes that anyone can make (and be forgiven): these were highly public acts which to all appearances appeared supportive of non-Catholic and even non-Christian beliefs and teachings. It is troubling. I hope and pray that John Paul II is in heaven (indeed, the Church now teaches that he is), but I tremble at the wisdom of raising him to the honor of the altars.

    Yet for all that, one can at least see how John Paul II marks (however tepidly) the beginning of a long slow road back to the Church’s regaining of her true self. But we now hear that Paul VI will be beatified in the autumn, having been declared, astoundingly, Venerable in 2012. It is impossible to think of any pontiff who has presided over (and indeed, helped directly perpetrate) such a thorough auto-demolition of the Church’s praxis from within, and yet he too will be raised to the altars. There have been worse (much worse) men elected pope, but arguably few worse popes that have reigned, the one lonely bright moment of Humanae Vitae (which in context looks ever more like a direct intervention of the Holy Spirit) notwithstanding. And this, I fear, is a scandal considerably beyond anything that troubles many of us about John Paul II.

  50. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Athelstan: You can be a prophet and a schmo at the same time. You can be personally virtuous and saintly and still make administrative mistakes. Think about all the religious founders who ended up imprisoned and barred from office, who died forgotten or in disgrace, or who were only vindicated in extreme old age. Not all saints are like that, but there are many.

  51. Kathleen10 says:

    How DO you all find out about these things. I must walk through life in a fog, because I would never know much of what you all say, but it’s always interesting.
    What I do know is I am in need of a miracle for a loved one, and I am about to become a pest to Pius XII, thanks to Lori Pieper.

  52. Bosco says:

    My dear Masked Chicken, your post script above has echoes of Romano Guardini as set forth in his masterful work, “The End of the Modern World”.
    Cheers to you, and keep your powder (and feathers) dry.

  53. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Pope John XXIII has one outstanding merit that seems to be ignored in recent days: his long and active work towards a mutually respectful understanding with the Jewish people.
    Before and during WWII in Bulgaria and in Turkey, Roncalli he saved many Jewish lives, forged thousands of papers and baptismal certificates and exit visas, conspired with officials who had humanitarian instincts, and pleaded with governments who did not. He managed to free an entire concentration campful of Slovakian prisoners.
    As Pope, it was he who altered the Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews so that it omitted the Latin word translated as ‘unfaithful/perfidious’; he also purged Catholic teaching of the assertion that it was ‘the Jews’ who had killed Our Lord, correcting what had become a rather self-righteous attitude that had distorted and harmed Catholic tradition (at least, in some countries).
    He helped the rehabilitation of OT scriptural study, and a greater understanding of the biblical importance of the Jews in the formation of Christianity. We forget today the poisonously bad relations there had been between Jews and Christians. John XXIII managed to re-build that important bridge without compromising the Faith or the interests of Catholics. For this he was at least arguably a man of saintly character, and of some importance in the life of the Church and its liturgy.
    The later post-conciliar secularisation, ecclesial nationalism and protestantisation were already latent in some countries in 1962, but cannot really be laid at his door – unless it can be considered his fault to convoke a Council and open such a Pandora’s Box when aged and in failing health. But then most Popes are elected at an advanced age, and have to trust their successors to carry on…

  54. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    “I have been thinking about this, too, and first I want to say, well, before that we need to be, well, it’s time that….oh never mind. Nope. You know.”

    Once again, Dr. Peters nails it.

  55. Lori Pieper says:

    Kathleen10, way to go! I confess I’d be praying to Pius XII myself, but I also want to make sure John Paul I gets a miracle :) (There is one before the Holy See right now, not yet approved; he could be in need of a backup miracle).

    Yes, I know — three Popes canonized in a very short space of time, and we need a fourth?
    I really think we have been gifted with some outstanding men as Popes in our time.

  56. AnimatedCatholic says:

    is Vatican II heretical?

  57. VexillaRegis says:

    Dear Chicken, I had sort of forgotten about St Genesius, thanks for the reminder! Ther are two other saints who have a soft spot for comedians, namely Sts Lawrence and Vitus (Guy). When I mentioned these guys (pun intended) to my Lutheran husband, he said: “Are those really the patron saints for comedians? I thought that was St Hilarius?”

  58. ncstevem says:

    I think the motivation to rush to canonize JP II is similar the reason we have a rock & roll Hall of Fame.

    The r&r H of F celebrates mostly degenerates who produced an inferior product when compared to other forms of music (classical, jazz). Those involved in making and promoting r & r deep down know much/most is garbage. So they build a H of F as a way to try to legitimize it. It illustrates the modern tendency to over-the-top praise for the mediocre. Ever hear the adulation heaped on Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix who both are/were below average musicians?

    Canonizing JP II less than 10 years after his death is an attempt to avoid having to face the questionable parts of his pontificate. Those Catholics who treat/treated him as more a celebrity rather than pope (John Paul the Great, JP II, we love you!) seem to view his pontificate through rose colored glasses.

  59. Vincent says:

    It is the Church that decides the process that is to be applied towards the sanctified. I happen to be on the side of stricter regulations. Ultimately though, the recognition of sainthood does not force you personally to pray to these particular saints for your own purposes. All that is required is that you accept the existence of the Communion of Saints and presumably whomsoever the Church raises to that honour.

    My tuppence, for what it’s worth: there will undoubtedly be people who will not accept the canonisations; I’m not one. In spite of being a “Lefebvrist” or whatever people who go to SSPX Masses are called these days… I (as many are) am a loyal son of the Church and accept her rulings. If she (and the Supreme Head of the Church) rule that these two men are Saints, then so be it. My personal understanding is that time on Earth is not counted in Heaven, so it might be preferable to hold off the ol’ canonisation process until there’s a little more reasoned thinking, and perhaps a little more evidence too. After all, it only took 400 years to canonise St Thomas More, who was according to his son-in-law “the most perfect man ever to have lived”.

  60. discipulus says:

    I wonder how Pope Pius XII in Heaven feels about the “traditionalists” pushing for his canonization while they endlessly berate his successors?

  61. “declaring saints is an awful development for Mother Church, is it not?” awful? we’re all called to be saints. I’m not sure how this could be awful.

  62. many people had the privilege of living at a time when they would personally know St Francis of Assisi,Saint Faustina, St Kolbe. I have now lived long enough to have the privilege of being in a time when one could know a saint personally. It’s the first time we have been able to say this.
    Miracles of Blessed John Paul II. Numerous.
    I’m not sure what the fast track was. He lived at a time when he could be shot for being a priest. He lived under two horrible regimes.Nazism and Communism. He WAS shot and were it not for Our Lady might have been a martyr by blood. So you see. I’m not sure where this fast track comes in when he gave his whole life for the Church till his dying breathe. As for all saints he canonized;much consternation about that too. I believe that was a way to witness to the Church that we are ALL called to be saints. Our age definitely needs examples of what it means to be a saint.
    I also remember a lot of grumblings when Blessed John Paul II was ill and could barely function.He was lucid till the end but physically deteriorating. Some thought he should have stepped down. Then Pope Emeritus Benedict resigns and then i heard grumblings that he ought to have stayed on till his last breathe like Blessed John Paul II. You can’t win.
    One they wanted to step down and the other they wanted to stay on.Thank God that decision is left between them and God alone.
    I also know there were abuses after Vatican II. No newsflash there. IMHO these abuses would have taken place anyway;the Council has been a great scapegoat for people on both ends. The SSPX and the Liberals (ie Nuns on the Bus,Fishwrap, less than sacred liturgy etc).
    They all point to Vatican II as the cause. Don’t think so. It’s a good to have something to blame when you don’t want to blame yourself. It’s like going to confession and telling the priest everyone else’s sins.

  63. Lori Pieper says:

    discipulus says: I wonder how Pope Pius XII in Heaven feels about the “traditionalists” pushing for his canonization while they endlessly berate his successors?

    Good point!

  64. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: bad stuff happening at Lourdes — that river floods a lot. A lot a lot. It flooded in Bernadette’s time too.

  65. Nan says:

    What we think is immaterial. The Church has blessed us with more saints. I assume that at some point Venerable Pius XII will be beatified and canonized; not speaking out prevented priests from getting killed in retaliation. He welcomed thousands of Jews into Church properties so they’d be safe. That’s in addition to sanctioning forged baptismal certificates to save others. Blaming him for inaction is based on a Russian propaganda play; if you look at newspapers at the time, he was praised for all he did and Golda Meir and other jewish people praised him for all he had done.

  66. Sonshine135 says:

    @ The Chicken
    “To say that the soon-to-be canonized popes have stood watch during the dismantling of the West would be a fallacy. The West has been morally disintegrating since the Industrial Revolution at the very least, but, likelier, since the Enlightenment.”

    Bingo! Your comment here gets to the heart of the issue. I am not against either of these men being beatified, because the forces that are driving problems inside of the Catholic Church were out of their control. We can argue that these Popes were not as strict as Pope Saint Pius X in their handling of the modernist heresies, but I find little evidence in my studies that his movements to protect the church really helped. In fact, arguably, they may have kept the modernist dissenters closeted! Trust me, I too am a huge fan of the bold actions taken by Pope Saint Pius X. I just don’t believe they were as effective as some of us think they were. The drama caused by the mix of science and faith has yet to be completely played out. We have yet to find out if the West becomes dismantled, or if people begin to pull their head out of their…eh the sand, and reject modernism, secularism, and humanism in favor of a return to scholasticism. That will require much more than can be expected from any one Pope- even one to be canonized.

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