AP writer Nicole Winfield has written the article, As John Paul beatification nears, criticism mounts where she presents arguments (not necessarily her own) against the late Holy Father’s beatification. Some of the arguments she presents, include:
- The process for canonization was done too hastily
- Many of the crimes/cover-ups of the priestly abuse scandal happened “on his watch”
- JP II failed to “stem the decline of Catholicism in the West” by allowing liturgical abuse
- The cover-up surrounding the Legionaries of Christ
- An impartial decision making body (most of the people working the case were appointed by JPII)
Additionally, do you think this should be a matter of assessing the holiness and piety of the man alone, which can hardly be questioned, or should the assessment/investigation process for his canonization include an assessment of his papacy as well?
And if it should include an assessment of his papacy, do the arguments above warrant enough consideration to deny or delay his canonization?
This article was the first time I have seen any push back on the idea of John Paul’s canonization. Admittedly, I think the whole Church has been expecting it since shouts of “Santo Subito” – “Sainthood Immediately” – broke out at his funeral Mass. Once Pope Benedict lifted the mandatory five year waiting period, it just seemed like a foregone conclusion that John Paul would be declared a Saint (possibly a Doctor) of the Church in record time.
But one of the reasons for the waiting period is to avoid getting caught up in the wake of a candidate’s charismatic personality. Did their life and contribution really have a profound lasting effect? Were their actions, and the cult assembled around them, truly a movement inspired by the Holy Spirit or were people only motivated by a figure with a larger than life personality?
Religious orders like the Dominicans and Franciscans continue to endure (and thrive) because of the continued movement of the Holy Spirit in their midst. Their founders certainly lived lives of “heroic virtue,” and were charismatic individuals but more than that, they allowed the Holy Spirit to be in control and for the Father’s will to be accomplished through them (i.e. the founding of these two great religious orders).
I am not suggesting for a moment that John Paul was not sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit or that he did yield complete control of his life over to the will of the Father; however, this article has posed some interesting questions for me to reflect upon. Did the push for his canonization move forward too fast?
None of this reflection by Vatican “insiders,” AP reporters, or me will change the course of events that have been set in motion. This whole thing is really breaking new ground in the canonization process because typically people that have been canonized have been dead for at least a couple generations; in many cases, they have been dead for hundreds of years. Additionally, the lives of these Saints are recorded in volumes that 99.9% of the public will never see. Not because they are hidden, but just because there may only be one ancient copy of a document being used in the investigation process.
However, Pope John Paul is a contemporary figure. Everyone over the age of 15 at least knows who he is and may even have some memory of him (e.g. Attending a WYD, a Papal Visit to their country, or seeing him on TV). Also, every detail of his papacy is digitally recorded and has been reproduced in articles, books, DVDs, YouTube, etc. There is no shortage of information on the man, his life, or his accomplishments (and maybe his shortcomings).
Do you have any thoughts on the whole matter? Did the process move too quick? Are the arguments against his canonization valid? Does the rapid dissemination of information in today’s world mean the canonization process should move faster or should the Church, instead, slow it down in order to really judge the fruits of a particular candidate?