Saturday, December 02, 2017

Pope Saint John Paul II

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 St. John Paul II, pray for us.

A number of writers have objected to the canonization of St. John Paul II, going so far as to deny its validity: not only that he should not have been canonized, but that he could not have been canonized. I have prayed to Our Lady and St. John Paul II and consulted many friends for help with this. This post will sketch an answer. First, the objections. Second, an unsatisfactory answer sometimes proposed. Third, a satisfactory answer from a friend, which I will develop.

One: Objections
First, the objections, found in the 2014 correspondence of John Salza with Fr. Brian Harrison, may be summarized under the following five heads; there is some overlap between them.

1st Argument:
Major: A person who is canonized must exercise to a heroic degree the virtues of faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude, as "proved by common repute for sanctity and by conclusive arguments."
Minor: Pope John Paul II did not exercise to a heroic degree the virtues of faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude, as "proved by common repute for sanctity and by conclusive arguments."
Conclusion: Therefore, Pope John Paul II could not have been canonized.

Proof of the Major: Fr. Camillo Beccari, S.J., "Beatification and Canonization," The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 2 (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907) <>.
Proof of the Minor: (there are many other examples, and a good number of these can be found at {1}):

· Ecumenism:
* 5/25/1982 preaching in the Anglican Canterbury Cathedral
* 11/20/1994 concelebration of the Lutheran "supper" with Lutheran "Archbishop" Verman
* 2/25/2000 Ecumenical Mass in Cairo
* giving pectoral crosses to Anglicans George Carey and Rowan Williams, who are not validly ordained
* 10/4/2002 Ecumenical Vespers for the Lutheran Bishops of St. Peter's Basilica

· Relations with non-Christian religions that give the impression that "all religions are more or less good and praiseworthy" (cf. Pope Pius XI, Encylical "Mortalium Animos" §2):
* 8/9/1985 active participation in animist rituals in the Togo forest
* 4/13/1986 visit to the synagogue of Rome
* 2/5/1986 receiving the ashes of Shiva in Madras
* 10/27/1986 and 1/24/2002 meetings of Assisi including Buddhists placing a Buddha statue on the tabernacle and Buddhist books on the altar and praying that all "reach the state of Buddha"
* 5/14/1999 Quran kissing in Iraq
* 3/21/2000 prayer for Saint John the Baptist to protect Islam
* 3/26/2000 praying at the Western Wall

· Catholic Liturgy:
* 5/8/1984 a topless woman reading an epistle and semi-nude women receiving communion in New Guinea
* 1987-2005 many other irregularities via Piero Marini, Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations
* 7/11/1992 permission for altar girls
* 8/1/2002 pagan ceremonies at the beatification of Blessed Juan Bautista and Jacinto de los Ángeles, who were martyred by pagan Indians

· Administration
* unwarranted prayers for forgiveness for the past practice of the Church
* appointment of many liberal bishops and cardinals
* insufficient response to the sexual abuse crisis (mild treatment of Archbishop Weakland and Cardinal Law)
* 11/2004 public ceremony at the Vatican in honor of Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, despite ongoing accusations

· Piety, Tradition
* 10/16/2002 added five Luminous Mysteries to the Most Holy Rosary (Encyclical Rosarium Virginis Mariae §21, §38)

· Modesty
* Numerous examples of immodestly dressed men and women dancing and performing acrobatics in the presence of the pope
* World Youth Days with many near occasions of sin for young men and women

2nd Argument:
Major: Canonization necessarily means that the canonized person deserves to be imitated in the way he has fulfilled his duties in his state of life.
Minor: Pope John Paul II is not worthy of being imitated in the way he exercised his duties in his state of life.
Conclusion: Therefore, Pope John Paul II should not have been canonized. It is impossible to propose the imitation of John Paul the man, not John Paul the pope. It is impossible to canonize a pope despite his execution of his pontificate, not because of it. 

Proof of the Minor: No other canonized pope would have done what John Paul did. See the examples above (1st Argument, Proof of the Minor).

3rd Argument:
Major: A person whose writings contain things contrary to faith and morals should not be canonized, according to the law of the Church.
Minor: The writings of Pope John Paul II contain things contrary to faith and morals.
Conclusion: Therefore, Pope John Paul II should not have been canonized.

Proof of the Major: Divinis Perfectionis Magister 1, paragraph 2.3
Proof of the Minor:
*10/16/1979 Encyclical Catechesi Tradendae §32 on the Holy Ghost using non-Catholic communities as a means of salvation
* 5/5/1995 Encylical Ut Unum Sint:
- §15, §48, §84 on non-Catholics being saints [cf. Tertio Millennio Adveniente §37] and §60 approving the 1993 Balamand Declaration
- *§21 encouraging common prayer
- *§46 saying non-Catholics can, in exceptional cases, receive Holy Communion (cf. 1983 Code of Canon Law §844.2)
* 1992 promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church with ambiguities and possible errors
* 6/29/1995 Common Declaration §2 with Patriarch Bartholomew on the Orthodox Church as Sister Church, also responsible for the one Church of God
* 5/12/1996 Joint Declaration encouraging Common Prayer with Anglicans

4th Argument:
Major: For a canonization to be valid, there must be, as it were, valid material, form and intention.
Minor: In the case of Pope John Paul II, there was valid form and valid intention, but there is no valid matter.
Conclusion: Therefore, the canonization of Pope John Paul II is not valid.

Proof of the Minor: In addition to the many scandals against faith and morals in both public writings and in the actions of Pope John Paul, the new process of canonization is fallible because the bishops and their assistants and the cardinal prefect and his assistants are not protected from error regarding the life of the candidate, a process in which the pope himself is no longer involved [Divinis Perfectionis Magister, 2, 3].

5th Argument:
Major: A doubtful canonization is not a canonization.
Minor: There is enough evidence to question the validity of the canonization of Pope John Paul II.
Conclusion: Therefore, the canonization of John Paul II is not a valid canonization.

Two: Unsatisfactory Answer
Second, the answer is sometimes proposed that the canonization is for the private holiness of St. John Paul II, not for his papacy (cf. the conclusion to 2nd argument, above). For example: "Still, behind the Pope there was the man. A deeply religious, pious, spiritual, sincere, kind man of God. A man whose mistakes were certainly never made in bad faith and whose first desire was to protect the Church and to win new souls to Christ. A man in front of whose deep spirituality and pious nature most of us (and certainly yours truly) must hang their head in shame. A man of whom you can criticise everything, but not the pure heart and the honesty of his intentions. Whenever Catholics criticise the many mistakes of his pontificate (as they, if you ask me, should do far more often and much more vocally in order to avoid another pontificate like his to be ever repeated), they should remember – and should remind the enemies of the Church – of the purest of hearts behind those mistakes and of the example which John Paul II continues to give as a saintly man."{2}

Three: Satisfactory Answer
Third, I will cite a satisfactory answer from a friend. We are bound to uphold the infallibility of canonizations, including ones done under the new procedure.  Let the reader consult Fr. Frederick William Faber, Congr. Orat., An Essay on Beatification, Canonization, and the Process of the Congregation of Rites (London: Richardson and Son, 1848), 121-137. A friend says:
The case of John Paul II is difficult, because he really did some things which are difficult to justify.
Some ideas: All these criticisms are not necessarily valid; one must examine each case.
Certain saints have committed sins before their conversion (for example St. Paul). The Church does not canonize everything *in* the life of the person. ...

"The question is whether, at least from a certain point in his life, the person has practiced, in the usual way, 'heroic' virtues, i.e. worthy of being given as an example to Christians. If there are acts whose goodness is more doubtful, it seems to me that the judgment of canonization implies this: it *is not certain* that these acts constitute sins and, although this was the case for some [acts], they *do no not certainly prove* the absence of contrary virtues. Even a virtuous man can sometimes act against virtue.

In my humble opinion, the judgment of canonization declares infallibly:

1. That the subject is in Heaven.
2. That he practiced certain heroic virtues, without excluding any specific fault.

What does not seem to me infallible, however, is the opportuneness, i.e., the prudent and useful character for the Christian people, to canonize this or that person. On this point, there may be some canonizations, not erroneous in themselves, but inopportune. In this way, an era can appear to show extremely little concern for certain problems that arise through people's lives."
What follows is a brief development of my friend's points. In what, then, did the heroic virtue of St. John Paul consist? I propose that this Pope who, we should remember, did much good (this son of Mary did much for the defense of human life and marriage and family life and the end of communism, and, I submit, planted more good seeds than some give him credit for), was heroically virtuous in offering up his poor health and suffering to God in the last few years of his papacy, during which, based on his speeches and writings, he evidently had a growing sense of the need to return to doctrinal and liturgical sanity. This heroic suffering, which served to glorify God, convert sinners, and expiate the grave faults of St. John Paul II's papacy enumerated above, is worthy of imitation by Catholics.

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