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The Canonization of Pope John Paul II: I Dissent

A Great Cloud of Witnesses

Vatican journalist Andrea Torniello has recently reported that the cause for the beatification of John Paul II has advanced. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints has cleared the way for the previous pope to be declared “blessed,” the initial step on the path to sainthood.

Since reading this announcement, I’ve been giving thought to my reaction, which is, on the whole, strongly negative. As I think about it, I’m opposed to the canonization of John Paul II, and I’d like to think out loud here about my reasons for this opposition.

First, some provisos. I take it that Catholics may validly criticize popes. In fact, I take it that Catholics may have a strong obligation at certain points in history to stand against the actions, example, or even teachings of a given pope at a given time. Those of us who believe that this is the case have historical warrant for such actions: exemplary Catholics, including Catherine of Siena, a saint, have spoken out to call the pope to fidelity to the gospel, and to express concern when a pope seemed to be leading the church in a direction contrary to the gospel. And Paul stood in opposition to Peter when Peter wanted to make the gospel hinge on the purity laws of Judaism.

I also believe in the value of and right to dissent. This past December, the current pope, Benedict XVI, told a group of Brazilian bishops that the uncritical absorption of elements of Marxist ideology in liberation theology has led some liberation theologians to encourage “rebellion, division, dissent, offenses, [and] anarchy” in the church.

What Benedict regards in entirely negative terms I see as often healthy. A church that wishes to be viable, to have a secure future, and to be faithful to the gospel needs dissenters in its midst. The church needs those who point to the gospel, and then to the current practice of the church, and who refuse to accept glaring discrepancies between what the gospel calls us to, and how the church and its leaders are behaving.

And this tradition of faithful dissent is hardly confined to Catholics who accept elements of Marxism. It is part and parcel of the Catholic tradition itself. When the Austrian Catholic layman Franz Jäggerstätter refused to serve in the Nazi army in World War II, he did not point to Marxist influence to justify his conscientious objection. He pointed to the gospels and the example of Jesus.

And in doing so, he chose to dissent in a courageous, public way from the priests who came to him and told him that faithful Catholics do what the church tells them to do, even when their conscience tells them to do otherwise. Franz Jäggerstätter rejected even the insistence of his bishop that good Catholics do not dissent from the judgment of the hierarchy. He chose to give witness to gospel values in a courageous, exemplary way at a time and place in which large numbers of Austrian bishops welcomed and blessed the Nazis.

The Catholic tradition is full of examples of such holy dissent. In American culture, we honor this tradition of conscientious objection in our political and intellectual life. It is woven into our cultural history through the writings and example of Henry David Thoreau, who went to jail to protest the use of his tax money to support the system of slavery, and of Martin Luther King Jr., who went to jail to protest the savage treatment of people of color in many parts of this nation under the system of segregation that prevailed until the latter half of the 20th century.

I might add one more proviso: I take for granted that popes can not only be poor shepherds of the flock of Christ, against whose example, actions, and even teachings we may be required by conscience to speak out. I take for granted that popes can even be evil. Being elected to the papacy is not in and of itself a sign of virtue, nor should a papal election be an automatic open door to subsequent canonization.

When the current pope was elected, I shocked a former seminarian whom I know—a person of strong faith, who lives a life of exemplary holiness as an openly gay man—by telling him that I view the election of popes from an historical standpoint, and I remember that the church has had evil popes and has somehow survived the reign of such popes. I am not making the judgment that Cardinal Ratzinger/Benedict XVI is an evil pope. I am stating that I know there is historical precedent for popes doing evil even before and also often after they are elected to the papacy. I also make no secret of the fact that I question and dissent from some of the decisions made by the current pope during his years as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

I object to Ratzinger’s violation of basic canons of justice in his treatment of numerous theologians, when he headed the CDF. I regard his teaching that gay and lesbian persons are “intrinsically disordered” as malicious and as the source of violence towards LGBT people. I object to his stance on the role of women in the church and on women’s ordination. In my view, the church radically diminishes its effectiveness as a voice for human rights and justice when, in its own institutional life, it behaves unjustly—as the church does, conspicuously so, in refusing to ordain women and married men. And in its deplorable, abusive treatment of its LGBT members.

Above all, I hold both Cardinal Ratzinger and John Paul II responsible for engineering a vast, systemic institutional cover-up of the abuse crisis in the Catholic church. Rather than respond to that crisis transparently, with the intent to repent and to amend the behavior of the church’s clerical elite, both the current pope and the previous pope chose the path of secrecy. Of denial. Of red herrings that are lies—e.g., the red herring/lie that the abuse crisis is entirely due to the presence of gay men in the priesthood.

Both the current pope and his predecessor, John Paul II, who placed Ratzinger at the center of the church and is responsible for his ascent to the papacy, chose to wager the future of Catholicism on the continued maintenance of the clerical, patriarchal system of governance now dominant in the church. Both popes chose to make what is an historically conditioned, mutable polity into something sacrosanct and beyond question.

In doing so, both the last pope and the current pope have significantly undermined the effectiveness of the church as a voice for justice and mercy in the developed sectors of the world. Both popes have made a Faustian bargain to write off Catholics in the developed parts of the globe, in order to maintain the allegiance of Catholics in the developing sectors of the world, where Catholicism is growing demographically.

The price of this Faustian bargain is, in my view, that increasing numbers of both Catholics and of people of good will in much of the developed world write off the Catholic church as irrelevant to the process by which a postmodern global culture is coming into being. And even worse, increasing numbers of Catholics and people of good will see the Catholic church in its institutional life today as a countersign to the gospel, to the core values the church itself seeks to proclaim in the face of its own unjust behavior towards women, survivors of childhood sexual abuse by priests, and gay and lesbian human beings.

I’ve noted before on my Bilgrimage blog that one of the strengths of the Catholic understanding of the communion of the saints is, in my view, its broadness. Catholics in any walk of life can turn to the rich list of canonized saints for models of virtue. There’s somebody for everybody in the list of saints.

And so I can understand—I can even appreciate—that there are many Catholics in various parts of the world who see the life and legacy of John Paul II as a life and legacy of courageous virtue. I am one small voice among millions of Catholics whose sensus fidelium is, presumably, incorporated into decisions to canonize this particular person and not that one.

I am not a significant voice. And I am not a person of conspicuous virtue. John Paul II’s act of mercy in forgiving the man who tried to assassinate him puts into the shadows anything I might have done to forgive my own enemies, in my own tiny life.

Even so, I claim my right to make my voice heard, as the cause of John Paul II advances. I claim my right to speak out about what the choice to elevate this particular member of the body of Christ to the ranks of the saints will communicate to many of those who look to the church as a sacramental sign of God’s universal love in the world.

John Paul II’s treatment of women in the church was deplorable, and nothing can redeem that treatment for anyone committed to the full equality of women in church and society. Likewise, the silencing of theologians and the dismantling of groups working for humane treatment of gay and lesbian persons during John Paul II’s papacy was an act of great inhumanity—an anti-gospel act—that has had strongly pernicious pastoral effects as the church deals with its LGBT members.

After Ratzinger issued his 1986 pastoral letter calling gay people intrinsically disordered—during John Paul II’s papacy, with his blessing—the ministerial group Dignity was dismantled, its meetings were shut out of Catholic institutions, and its leaders were silenced. There is a direct genetic line between these draconian decisions of church leaders to turn their back on their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, and the current stepped-up campaign of church leaders to stigmatize gays and lesbians around the world. There is a direct line between Ratzinger’s 1986 pastoral letter and the current legislation facing the Ugandan legislature, which will make being gay or lesbian a capital crime.

People who not merely participate in, but who actively engineer, such anti-gospel events in history, ought not to be canonized. The canonization of John Paul II will drive the knife deeper, for many Catholics who stand in solidarity with women, with LGBT persons, and with survivors of childhood sexual abuse by Catholic authority figures. This canonization will continue to communicate to these groups that the pastoral leaders of the church have set their face against these members of the body of Christ. The canonization of John Paul II will not heal, but will deepen, wounds that a truly redemptive church ought to be all about healing.

I dissent from the decision to canonize Pope John Paul II.

(Crossposted from Bilgrimage, 8 December 2009.)

29 Responses

  1. I agree completely, and equally withhold my own consent. The record shows that JPII was central to undermining the decisions of the highest decision taking body of the church, that of the Second Vatican Council, and was also central to the appalling record of the Vatican in ignoring and covering -up clerical sexual abuse over several decades.

  2. Terry, thanks. Also part of the record: statistics showing not only a precipitous drop in church attendance by Catholics throughout the Western world, but Catholics actively leaving the church in many areas: the U.S., Germany, Austria, and most recently, Ireland.

    In the U.S., a Pew Forum study last year showed that one in three adults raised Catholic have now left the Catholic church, and one in ten American adults is a former Catholic. The only thing that is keeping numbers even near “even” in the U.S. Catholic church is an influx of Catholic immigrants from other nations.

    Polls also indicate huge numbers of young Catholics walking away. At the center of all this? The response of the hierarchy to the abuse crisis. By his silence re: the abuse crisis, JPII has set in motion dynamics that are, the record seems to indicate, significantly undermining the Catholic church in many areas.

  3. In October 1995, when I was a sophomore at NYU, I attended the Papal Mass on the Great Lawn of Central Park — celebrated by Pope John Paul II.

    It was the most memorable spiritual experience of my life — because of the tenderness and love that John Paul showed for the 100,000-plus gathered that day in the light rain.

    On that day, John Paul II said, “Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid! God is with you!”

    That simple message has stayed with me all these years — including at times when I have struggled with church teaching and my own vocation in life.

    So many Catholic young adults have stories like this — instances (often at the World Youth Days) when the love of John Paul II inspired lives and vocations.

    Certainly, John Paul II made some errors — including perhaps those you have mentioned here. But, many of the Saints lived flawed lives in some respects. Sainthood is not about having had a perfect lifetime record. It’s about having had a faithful journey that had ended in the warm embrace of God.

    I believe that John Paul II has “gone to the house of the father” where he is praying for us now.

  4. While I sincerely understand your misgivings Bill, I do think that the Ven. John Paul II may be deserving of being acknowledged as a being profoundly holy despite the fact that he failed to understand certain dynamics of the human experience, mainly; the fact that homosexuality is not a disorder and that women have every right to be ordained to the priesthood and other positions within the Church in the same way men do.

    I think that within the Church we can honor individuals who have been flawed, even highly flawed, this proves that the Saints that we celebrate were not perfect individuals in the least, but were sinful people who followed as best they could the path to seek the face of God.

    I think that Pope John Paul II’s papacy was a time of tremendous growth, joy, and inspiration for the Church. Despite his unfortunate stances on so many causes that we hold dear, we can’t deny that his papacy was one of the most impacting and influential in recent memory.

    I have to deviate with Fr. Hans Kung, and some of my other fellow progressive voices when it comes to criticizing the Ven. John Paul II so radically. No, he did not understand all issues perfectly, but he provided a courageous example to the universal Church of following Christ in the midst of suffering, trials, and uncertainty “Do not be afraid!”

    I’d like to think that on the other plane of existence that John Paul II has perhaps been enlightened by God of his mistakes and misjudgments on certain issues but no doubt, has still been rewarded as a “good and faithful servant”

    I think in our efforts and in our promotion of a more progressive expression and interpretation of Catholicism we must try as hard as we can to treat our more conservative-minded brethren with as much respect as possible. And I understand that it’s hard, especially when it comes to the likes of Chaput, Burke, and Pell. But we must remember, attack the errors and the ignorant failings of these individuals, not the very persons themselves!

  5. Paul and Phillip, I appreciate your response and your perspective as younger Catholics who grew up in the JPII generation. I admire your devotion to a pope who inspired you.

    And I take seriously your own personal testimony of having been touched by his–would I be wrong to call it his aura? And his legacy.

    Nonetheless, I remain deeply troubled at the growing attempt to dissociate what a proposed saint did, said, and exemplified, from what the church chooses to see as his legacy of holiness. As Colleen points out in her posting today about liturgical vestments and sanctity, JPII himself altered the saint-making process within the church to remove some of the checks and balances in the process, which were designed to confront precisely the kind of evidence that may indicate a person with a reputation for holiness was not conspicuously holy.

    He did this to centralize the process more and more in the papacy itself. The result of what he did is that we now have a pope, Pius XII, being moved quickly to sanctity when, for many Catholics and many outside the Catholic church, there are very serious questions about who Pius was, what he did, what he stood for, and the legacy he left the church.

    I have those questions about JPII, and my article outlines them. You both see him as a man of holiness who moved you and many others.

    Do you also grant that what he did to women in the church has left serious wounds, and that many women feel like second-class citizens in the church because of his autocratic decisions re: discussions about women’s life in the church? And that his silence about the abuse crisis has been calamitous in the life of the church? And that his ruthless suppression of theological discussion has been very destructive for the church?

    Colleen adds important points about some of JPII’s political activities and stands in Latin America.

    Or do you simply discount these arguments? These are more than “mistakes” and “flaws.” They were actions that were seriously harmful to the church and to many people in the church.

    In my view, the evidence doesn’t point clearly at all to the papacy of JPII as a time of growth for the church. Quite the opposite seems to be true–look at the polls of those leaving the church in the western world. Catholics began leaving the church in droves in many western nations during JPII’s papacy.

    How can we call that growth? And what are we saying about catholicity, if we canonize a pope whose legacy seems to be to have driven off (and harmed) millions of believers?

    I’ll welcome your responses, and I do take them seriously. Please help me to understand how to get around these easily proven facts about JPII’s legacy, in order to see this as a holy legacy.

  6. I have to admit to a little jealousy when I read of the personal impact JPII had on Phillip and Paul. In my youth the opportunity to be in the presence of Pius XII or John XXIII was non existent unless one went to Rome and Pius was a distant and remote personality anyway.

    What really bothers me about the canonizations of Pius XII, Teresa, and JPII is that the Vatican is pushing their sainthood on the basis of their personal piety in separation from their public actions. In essense this is saying that sainthood is determined by how one lived their life in a very limited and private sphere.

    It tolerates compromising Christian values in the public sphere in favor of private worship and especially personal suffering. If Saints are held up to us as exemplaries of Christ we have to insist that they lived Christ in both the public and private spheres of their lives. Jesus certainly did.

  7. Thanks, Colleen.

    You put the point I wanted to make in response to Paul and Phillip’s very welcome critique extremely well:

    “What really bothers me about the canonizations of Pius XII, Teresa, and JPII is that the Vatican is pushing their sainthood on the basis of their personal piety in separation from their public actions.”

    That’s it in a nutshell. Are we to believe that even when a particular saint has woefully harmed quite a few people (in JPII’s case, I’d argue survivors of clerical sexual abuse, women, LGBT people, and theologians fit into the “harmed” category), that saint is still preeminent in holiness, because he had some kind of “interior” sanctity?

    It bothers me tremendously as a Catholic–because i believe in catholicity–to write off survivors of clerical sexual abuse, women, LGBT people, and theologians, as if they don’t exist, when we consider the sanctity of JPII.

    And it bothers me tremendously for the church to insist that “flawed” people whose real-life actions have woefully harmed quite a few folks in easily proven ways were nonetheless holy in some interior way dissociated from their actions.

    I’ve always thought canonization is putting the stamp of approval on the life that a person lived, and on the evidence apparent in that person’s life that she/he was holy in an exemplary way.

  8. “The record shows that JPII was central to undermining the decisions of the highest decision taking body of the church, that of the Second Vatican Council.”

    I’ve never understood these kinds of claims, which are made constantly in these types of discussions.

    How, in particular, did he undermine the Council? My copy of the Documents of Vatican Council II runs about 700 pages. Can we get something specific?

    • Rick, I’m not getting into an argument here. I don’t believe that every observation in a post or comment needs to be debated and defended. You state that the documents run to 700 pages. It’s not the documents that are relevant here, but the actions of JPII. He most certainly did work to undermine the principle of collegiality; he also reversed the practice of his predecessor, who was careful to maintain in his appointments to the curia, a balance between those who wished to continue the implementation of the council’s decisions, and those who wished to reverse them and re-establish curial control. Instead, JPII’s appointments, of which there were many, were almost uniformly of those who opposed the reforming decisions of the council.

      John Paul II was notable for a number of important and good developments, notably in Eastern Europe. But recognizing the good that he is is not a reason to overlook the obvious harm.

      I have now had my say and will not be drawn into further discussion on this point.

      • I’m not interested in arguing, either, and, in a way, didn’t expect that much of an answer.

        This is apparently another chapter in my neverending quest to find what, specifically, in the teaching of Vatican II the present and former pope worked to oppose or reverse. It’s a commonplace charge that I never find backed up with “chapter and verse.” But I keep asking.

        Thanks. Peace.

        • Hi Rick.

          I wasn’t trying to give you a brush-of yesterday – I just don’t think that a comments thread is the place for long arguments. The question you put is an important one, which I am sure we would have covered in time, anyway. but as you have posed it as a genuine question of real concern, I will prepare something and place it as a specific post, with chapter and verse, when it is ready.

          I apologize if I mistook your genuine question for mere argumentativeness.

  9. Rick, thanks for your response. You’re obviously replying to Terry Weldon, since your response includes a statement from his response to my posting. And I’ll let Terry reply.

    For my part, I believe my posting makes clear several key ways in which JPII’s actions did undermine Vatican II and have caused damage to the whole church and to particular groups within the church.

    I would welcome your response to the case my article makes re: those key points.

  10. RIck, I can give you one off the top of my head because I ran across it researching Mother Teresa. John Paul sent a letter out to all the existing Cardinals asking for their input on fast tracking her canonization. The results were resoundingly against such a move. He ignored their opinions and went ahead and fast tracked her.

    I seem to remember Vatican II said something about collegiality in determining Church positions. This is a small example, but it amptly demonstrates an attitude which says ‘the papal opinion is the only opinion which counts’.

  11. “I believe my posting makes clear several key ways in which JPII’s actions did undermine Vatican II and have caused damage to the whole church and to particular groups within the church.”

    Maybe i missed it, but I didn’t see a reference to Vatican II in the main post. I was mainly responding to the first response.

    There’s nothing wrong of course with not agreeing with a particular canonization. I rather liked JPII. And, of course, if he had adopted many of the more progressive positions on hot-button issues like abortion and same-sex marriage he would have been much more subject to the claim of having defied Vatican II. The Council documents put a rather more positive spin on traditional sexual morality, but they affirm it just the same, especially in Gaudium et spes.

    “I seem to remember Vatican II said something about collegiality in determining Church positions.”

    It’s in chapter III of Lumen Gentium. But the constitution makes clear that that collegiality is exercised with and under the authority of the bishop of Rome.

    I don’t want to argue for or against. I just point out that taking a contrary position after consultation is hardly contrary to the norms of the Council. And I find it ironic that so many of the “reactionary” positions of the post-conciliar popes are simply restatements of the teaching of the now-largely-forgottenparticular’s of the Council’s teaching.

  12. Rick, thanks. I had understood you were responding primarily to Terry Weldon’s initial comment, and I should leave it to Terry to respond in details.

    You’re right, my posting doesn’t mention Vatican II. Nonetheless, I do agree with Terry (and Colleen) that key actions taken by JPII did violate Vatican II. I’d go further, in fact, and note that both he and his chief theological advisor, Cardinal Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, actively supported a “restorationist” agenda deliberately designed to return to the church, in some significant respect, to its pre-Vatican II state.

  13. “I’d go further, in fact, and note that both he and his chief theological advisor, Cardinal Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, actively supported a “restorationist” agenda deliberately designed to return to the church, in some significant respect, to its pre-Vatican II state.”

    In what way?

  14. “I apologize if I mistook your genuine question for mere argumentativeness.”

    No need to apologize. Sometimes I can’t tell the difference myself.

    I will keep checking in, but I tend to be an inconstant blogger/commenter. Life and all that keeps me from an existence of pure pontification, I’m afraid.

  15. Rick, I’m sorry I didn’t notice your reply to me until now.

    I think you’re asking in what way JPII actively promoted a restorationist movement in the church–that is, you’re asking for evidence? If I’m not understanding your question, please let me know.

    First, I’d note that there’s abundant evidence that JPII and his chief theological adviser Cardinal Ratzinger promoted restorationism, as a movement. On this point, see Joseph A. Varacalli’s book “The Catholic Experience in America,” which is online right now at google books. Note chapter 7, pp. 49f, entitled “Too Little, Too Late? John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and the Catholic Restorationist Movement.”

    Second, for my own part, I’d point to JPII’s attempt to keep alive the Bellarminian ecclesiology of church as perfect society. As Cardinal Wojtyla, JPII actually voted for that ecclesiology and against the ecclesiology of church as people of God that prevailed at Vatican II. In other words, even before he became pope, JPII seems to me to have had much invested in the Tridentine-Vatican I model of church that Vatican II sought to deepen, correct, and root in tradition with its return to the biblical-patristic image of church as people of God.

    JPII’s commitment to the perfect-church model led him to rule the church autocratically, as a monarch. He deliberately dismantled collegial structures in the church, stripping national bishops’ conferences of any effective power to govern their local churches.

    This was a step backward for which, in my view, the church has paid lamentably and will continue paying lamentably for the foreseeable future.

  16. I have now read your article here twice, so, if you have the patience, I hope you can endure a critique.
    While of course any Catholic has the right to criticize a candidate for canonisation, I find it strange that anyone should do so on the basis that the candidate was a Catholic, which is essentially what your criticisms amount to: that he opposed homosexuality, that he suppressed dissent, that he forbade priestesses, and so on.

    First, you say that dissent is healthy for the Church. This hinges on an equivocation: a right to dissent from what? You cite St. Catherine as an example, but she certainly did not dissent from authoritative decrees of the Magisterium; nor did she dissent from the Tradition (from which the Pope was dissenting, not she). You are trying to dissent by destroying the Tradition, she was dissenting in order to uphold it. There is all the difference in the world. You are of course right that one can’t go against one’s conscience, but the conscience should subordinate itself to divine revelation, to do the opposite is called “pride”: “I know that God said we can’t do x, but I can’t go against my conscience in thinking that x is a bad thing”!

    “I object to Ratzinger’s violation of basic canons of justice in his treatment of numerous theologians, when he headed the CDF.” Which theologians are you here referring to? Hans Küng? The Liberation Theologians? And what was unjust in it? What about St. Gregory VII’s, or St. Pius X’s efforts to crush heresy? Every Pope has done this, and the recent popes’ efforts have been, in comparison, actually rather lax.

    Regarding homosexuality, you write: “I regard his teaching that gay and lesbian persons are “intrinsically disordered” as malicious and as the source of violence towards LGBT people.” You seem to be confused in saying that this is Ratzinger’s idiosyncratic and personal opinion. On the contrary, this is the teaching of every saint of the Church in every age, every Doctor of the Church, and every Pope who has ever spoken on the subject. The Tradition of the Church on this subject is very clear. Do you think that, say, St. Augustine is a bigot when he writes: “Sins against nature, therefore, like the sin of Sodom, are abominable and deserve punishment whenever and wherever they are committed. If all nations committed them, all alike would be held guilty of the same charge in God’s law, for our Maker did not prescribe that we should use each other in this way. In fact, the relationship that we ought to have with God is itself violated when our nature, of which He is Author, is desecrated by perverted lust.” Or St. Peter Damian: “one can clearly deduce that he who corrupts himself with a man through the ignominious squalor of a filthy union does not deserve to exercise ecclesiastical functions, since those who were formerly given to vices … become unfit to administer the Sacraments.” Forgive me if I’d rather follow the Catholic teaching than your private speculations.

  17. You say that the Church is unjust in not ordaining women or married men. You are perhaps unaware that the Church already ordains married men in the Eastern rites, and former Anglican priests. Regarding priestesses, the Church can no more ordain them than it can ordain pineapples. As Dr. Ludwig Ott wrote in his great “Fundamentals”: “The Sacrament of Order can be validly received by a baptised person of the male sex only”. He lists this is a dogma which is “sentential certa”. That means that if you deny it, you are by definition a non-Catholic and a heretic.

    I am inclined, however, to agree with you about the sex scandal and the late Pope’s actions.

    “John Paul II’s treatment of women in the church was deplorable”. In what way? Have you read his encyclical “Mulieris Dignitatem” which is all about “the dignity and vocation of women”? He is probably the first pope in history (I’m assuming) who has written an encyclical just to show how women are worthy of the highest respect and dignity.

    “I dissent from the decision to canonize Pope John Paul II.” How can you dissent from something that hasn’t even been done yet? That’s just ridiculous. You might as well dissent from the re-formation of the C.S.A.

    In short, most of your reasons for opposing his canonisation, amount to saying “He was too Catholic for me”!

  18. I agree completely this pope should not be canonized.
    Vatican II taught that a pope is suppose to be a visible head of unity protecting legitimate differences,but with the degree of divisions & hostility that exists he failed to do his job big time. He claimed in the documents on faith & reason as well as Veritatis Splendour that church authorities cannot canonize one school of thought to the exclusion of others but threatened & silenced theologians who didn^t agree with his school of thought or philosophies regarding non definitive teachings. Vatican II encouraged the lawful freedom of inquiry & loyalty to conscience(Gaudium & Spes),freedom of conscience(Dignitatis Humanae),renewal of moral theology(decree on priestly formation) divorced from the highly legalistic & pharisee type methodology that strangled catholic moral theology in the 50s. Pope JPII did everything to silence new innovations or approaches.Some of which had foundation in the sources he liked(Aquinnas,St Alphonsus). Remember when a population explosion happened in France in the 1800s & the French Bishops looked to Rome for an answer regarding there belief that contraception was being practiced the response was in secret to the bishops not to trouble the consciences of the laity.That same pope issued a encyclycle on marriage at the time & did not mention contraception once. John Paul II in his obsession with pelic orthodoxy made conraception the litmus test of who became bishop regardless of his pastoral abilities. Traditionally bishops were elected by clergy & the people,when it became a papal monopoly 100 years ago,the pope would listen & seek input of the local church.JPII did nothing of the kind,prompting protests from places like Cologne,Vienna who had rigid reactionarry clones put in their archdiocese.Many bishops who were at Vatican II,complained at the blatant disregard for collegiality in favour of a one man rule.Can you imagine Peter disregarding input & collaboration with his brother apostles ? Saints who fit JPII^s model of the church,like Pius IX who condemned democracy,freedom of the press etc were fast tracked to sainthood despite having no cult following. This Pius IX kidnapped a jewish boy & was responsible for centalizing powere in a dictatorial manner. John the XIII who saved lives in WWII,called Vatican II,favored collegiality,& encouraged pluralism to a point & was was loved was shunned. JPII was someone who would be a pope of the medieval era not the 2oth century

  19. PS. the ordination of men to the priesthood is a disciplinary teaching not a Dogma of faith. Out of the thousands of teaching the church has done in its history relatively few are dogmas(infallible teachings).Vatican i laid out strict teachings when a doctrine is dogma,Vatican II also confirmed infallibilty belongs to the whole church including the laity .This is called reception or also the sense of the faithful. As bishop Gasser pointed out at Vatican I regarding infallibilty,the consent of the church(including the people) can never be lacking in a infallible teaching. At Vatican II a schemata was presented that the people^s infallibilty is a result of the magesterium. This was rejected by the council as going against tradition & orthodoxy.The people who are the church play a major role in infallibilty,they discern the authentic call to the gospel(the Eucharist,love thy neighbour,the sacraments to help love GOD & neighbour,the creeds) but reject methods of abuse in dealing woth issues without consultation or which support ideology rather than sound theology. This is a long compex process that continues & always has.

  20. Kim, thank you. Both of your comments are insightful and thoughtful. Your theological argument against the move to ordain JPII is very convincing to me, and well-grounded.

  21. It is obvious that this entire process is a politically motivated travesty. The entire reason for his “sainthood” is to make it harder for anyone to challenge the reactionary rulings he made during his tenure.

    it is also obvious that John Paul and his junkyard dog Benedict had this planned out before he died.

    So what happens now when the doctors do confirm that the woman how was “cured” did not have Parkinson’s? Will they find another lie to back it up?

    • I read it as largely political, too, Roger. Interestingly enough, the canonization push seems to have diminished, though, following the revelations about Maciel and the role John Paul II played in protecting him. Those revelations appear to have put quite a dent into JPII’s reputation for sanctity.

  22. Matthew 18: 1-6

    “About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”

    Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

    And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea”
    ————-

    In light of this passage, the argument against the canonization of John Paul II should be expressed much differently:

    The election to the papacy of any Pope who canonizes John Paul II should be considered fatally flawed, decreed null and void by the faithful, and a new candidate for the papacy put forward.

    The works and deeds of John Paul II, in the context of his handling of sexual abuse cases of the fellow priests and Bishops over whom he had soley responsibility, were that of a sinner, and a mortal one at that given the nature of the victims, not of a Saint.

    There is no question that John Paul II was responsible for obstructing justice for children abused by his fellow priests and Bishops in the following cases:

    – Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, an Austrian friend of John Paul’s who abused an estimated 2,000 boys over decades but never faced any sanction from Rome. Even Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Groer’s successor, criticised the handling of that scandal and the “sinful structures” within the church and the patterns of “silencing” victims and “looking away” (all during John Paul II’s papacy). Michael Tfirst, 54, one of Groer’s victims, claims to have reported the abuse to highranking church officials from the 1970s onwards. He says the church paid him £3,300 in 2004 under a contract that obliged him to keep quiet. “There is no question that Ratzinger knew all the details of reports on abuse within the church, as there is no doubt that John Paul, his superior, took part in a massive and systematic cover-up,” Tfirst said.

    – Archbishop Juliusz Paetz, who was accused of abusing trainee priests. Letters detailing the charges were sent to John Paul’s office and to Ratzinger in 2000 but were ignored. Paetz resigned in 2002 when the allegations became public.

    – Marcial Maciel Degollado, a Mexican priest known as Father Maciel, who founded a conservative religious order. He was accused by former members of abuse in 1998. John Paul blessed Maciel in the Vatican in late 2004, at a time when Ratzinger was investigating him.

    – John Magee, a former private secretary to three popes including the Polish pontiff, who named him Bishop of Cloyne in 1987. Late last month Magee was forced to resign after an independent report found that his diocese in Ireland had put children at risk.

    John Paul II is gulty of:

    Failing to encourage bishops to report accusations of pedophilia by priests to the police.

    Ignoring accusations against senior members of the clergy, at times promoting them to higher office.

    Allowing many priests accused of pedophilia to be transferred to a new diocese without anyone being warned of their record.

    Decreeing that “pontifical secrecy” must apply to cases of sexual abuse in church trials.

    A conclave is not a divinely ordered process for selection but a method created by the Church to replace earlier methods and the faithful can (and have in the past) had their say in overturning a conclave’s decision.

    A secret process such as the conclave can indeed have material deviations which can invalidate the process. For example, a Pope becomes Pope immediately after accepting the Office after the election, after the elected says “I accept,” not after reception of Holy Orders. If there are material reservations which are not brought forward at this time, such as the knowledge of, and intent to withold the knowledge of. the mortal sins of his predecessor Pope, then that acceptance can only be viewed as flawed. Joseph Ratzinger knows full well the extent to which John Paul II obstructed these cases on behalf of his fellow clergy, and to date, has done nothing but praise him.

    Those are not the actions of a true spiritual leader or Pope.

    • Well researched, well written.

  23. If John Paul II is canonized, after his lack of judgment and lack of corrective action as thousands of children were raped by his priests “under his watch”, the Catholic Church will look foolish for years to come.

    The more you study the pedophile priest scandal, the more clear it is that the highest levels of the church ordered that the church’s reputation be protected, rather than its children. John Paul II could certainly have ordered that the children be protected and healed at all costs, and its guilty priests punished to the fullest extent of the law, even if it caused a scandal. I’m guessing that’s what Jesus would do.

    Instead, he tried to protect the church’s name, hide and protect the rapists, and ignore the children who were raped. When the truth came out, the church looked absolutely foolish, undoubtedly criminal, and possibly evil. What would you call an organization that allowed someone to rape your 12 year old, hid the evidence, and moved the rapist to move freely in another area?

    No matter what you’d call the organization, you wouldn’t call their leader a saint.

    • Patrick, thank you. I agree with you. I find it very disturbing that a decision has been made to move forward quickly with the beatification of JPII, when there are serious questions being raised about his legacy.

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