By now, many of may have heard about those protesting the beatification of Pope John Paul II. There are signatories to a letter “A Statement of Reservations Concerning the Impending Beatification of Pope John Paul II.”
The impending beatification of Pope John Paul II on May 1, 2011 has aroused serious concern among not a few Catholics around the world, who are concerned about the condition of the Church and the scandals that have afflicted her in recent years—scandals that prompted the future Benedict XVI to exclaim on Good Friday 2005: “How much filth there is in the Church, even among those who, in the priesthood, should belong entirely to Him.” We give voice to our own concern in this public way in keeping with the law of the Church, which provides:
In accord with the knowledge, competence and preeminence which they possess, the Christian faithful have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard for the integrity of faith and morals and reverence towards their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons. [CIC (1983), Can. 212, § 3.]
We are compelled by what we believe in conscience to be the common good of the Church to express our reservations concerning this beatification. We do so on the following grounds, among others that could be brought forth.
The Real Question
We stress at the outset that we do not present these considerations as an argument against the personal piety or integrity of John Paul II, which ought to be presumed. The question is not personal piety or integrity as such, but rather whether there is, objectively speaking, a basis for the claim that John Paul exhibited such heroic virtue in the exercise of his exalted office as Pope that he should be placed immediately on the road to sainthood as a Pope to be emulated by all his successors…
A few points. First, I am on record questioning the speed at which the process for beatification and eventual canonization is moving. Jimmy Akin countered that it is really not all that fast. But he also made a great point with which I agree wholeheartedly:
On the other hand, precisely because they are such high-profile figures, to canonize them prematurely entails the greatest risks. It’s not like scandalizing a local area by promoting to the altars a local person who set a bad example. It would scandalize the entire world for a pope to be canonized and then have problems emerge. If there are charges that need to be dealt with, either well-founded ones or entirely bogus ones, they need to be dealt with up front.
One of the reasons that I prefer a slower pace, and that is all it is–a preference, is that time is insulation against such things. I still believe that a slower pace is preferable for a number of reasons, but I will not quote myself here. But this is a a judgment call.
That is what this beatification protest is really all about. Some people do not like some of the judgment calls that the Pope made during his pontificate. I suppose you can count me among them. But that is where my agreement ends.
The statement states “We stress at the outset that we do not present these considerations as an argument against the personal piety or integrity of John Paul II.”
Well. That’s it now. Discussion over. You either trust the infallible Church in this matter or you don’t. We are entitled to disagree about process and timing, and I do, but the occasional bad judgement call in a sea of good ones in no way diminishes heroic virtue.
I suggest that this statement may be a bad judgement call on the part of the signatories, but I am sure that some are very holy. We all make bad calls from time to time, or some might judge them that way. God may judge them differently. That Judas as Apostle thing might have seemed like a bad call to many, but it wasn’t.
I do not suggest that somehow the Assisi conference or kissing the Koran are somehow misunderstood. Those definitely seem like bad calls on the part of the Pope. But when they beatify Pope John Paul II, they will be the bad calls of the very holy Blessed Pope John Paul II.
His Eminence Angelo Cardinal Amato, Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints said “Pope John Paul II is being beatified not because of his impact on history or on the Catholic Church, but because of the way he lived the Christian virtues of faith, hope and love.” Amen.
Since baseball season has just started, let me indulge a baseball metaphor. There is not a man in the baseball hall of fame who hasn’t struck out from time to time.
Pope John Paul II may have struck out a few times, but he was as good as they get.