Sunday, 1 May 2011

Excellent Article on Blessed Pope John Paul II

A far better and more insightful appraisal of Pope John Paul II than mine.

Courtesy of The Catholic Knight...

'Our memories are short indeed. When he was elected, Pope John Paul II inherited a Catholic Church that was in such a mess that it appeared it's days were numbered. However, for whatever shortcomings he had as the Vicar of Christ, he nevertheless made great strides for the greater good. Pope John Paul II gets a bad rap from traditionalists. True, under his pontificate were seen the worst of liturgical abuses, the decline of vocations and heresy run rampant in the Church. However, what many traditional Catholics fail to realize is that these were the seeds of upheaval planted in the Church during the 1960s and 70s. John Paul II was not responsible for them, he simply presided over the Church as they matured and came to the forefront. John Paul II stood squarely against the Modernist influences on the Church, not perfectly mind you, but squarely nonetheless. 
Under his pontificate we saw the rise of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who would later become Pope Benedict XVI. When Ratzinger was installed Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981, the number of sexual abuse cases in the Church took a sharp turn downward, and has continued to decline to this day, to a level lower than that in the 1950s. News media reports on sexual abuse over the last ten years are for the most part covering stories of cases that are decades old. (The news media is literally decades behind the times.) The vocations spawned by John Paul's pontificate, few as they were in comparison to pre-conciliar times, were nevertheless more conservative, traditional and zealous. Was it not the John Paul seminarians who cheered the loudest when Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope?

The statistics don't lie. Vocations dropped off radically under the pontificate of Pope Paul VI during the early to middle 1970s, while it was John Paul II who slowly brought vocations back and Benedict XVI continues that work today. Sexual abuse of minors by priests skyrocketed during the 1960s (under Pope John XXIII) through 1970s (under Pope Paul VI), only to be curbed and reduced radically during the 1980s and 1990s under John Paul II and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. (Sorry to you anti-Catholics out there, but that's just the facts.) Yes, Pope John Paul II was slow to react on some things, making some bad choices here and there. But the statistical evidence tells the whole story. Anyone with half a brain can see what he was trying to do, and looking back on it now in hindsight, it becomes clear the Holy Father was trying to stop the spiritual tsunami already inundating the Church from washing her completely away. 
Under John Paul II we saw the beginnings of liturgical reform. He gave not one, but two motu proprios, calling for the return of the Traditional Latin Mass upon request by the faithful. In 1988, after the fiasco surrounding the SSPX, the Holy Father created the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) which is exclusively dedicated to the celebration and promotion of the Traditional Latin Mass. Pope John Paul II frequently celebrated the Novus Ordo mass in Latin as well, and usually in the most traditional way, especially within St. Peter's Basilica. He created the Anglican Use Pastoral Provision, which made way for the restoration of traditional English worship according to traditional forms.
Furthermore, it was John Paul II who ordered the new English translation of the Novus Ordo mass, which after nearly two decades is finally about to be implemented this year. Granted, Pope John Paul II was no hawk on liturgical reform, not in the same caliber as Pope Benedict XVI, but he was mindful of it and did work in the same direction as his successor Truthfully, much of what Pope Benedict XVI has done during his pontificate is simply build upon the simple foundation already laid by Pope John Paul II.
Yes, we can find some faults with this pope, especially since we have so much material to work with. He was, after all, the pontiff for nearly twenty-seven years! That being said, when we step back and look at the big picture, we can clearly see this man was placed in a situation where all the odds were against him -- along with all the forces of Hell too! He suffered two assassination attempts. The first was the shooting in 1981, and then the second was a stabbing in 1982. He later succumbed to a fatal case of Parkinson's Disease, which severely debilitated him in the years leading up to his death. Then as the final insult to injury, he watched the news media slander and berate the Church over stories of sexual abuse and cover up that occurred decades earlier. Undoubtedly, the grief over this tragic turn of events shortened what was left of his life. Pope John Paul II was the first pope to stand against the post-conciliar "Tyranny of Relativism." He held his ground, and did everything he could to absorb the impact of the tidal wave.
His actions helped preserve key elements in the Church while the torrents of waters gushed around insde, leaving nothing but broken glass and muddy debris in their wake. Was he a perfect pope? No. Was he the best man for the job? He would have told us "no." Was he a good pope, a faithful Christian and a Catholic saint? It looks like history will likely tell us "yes." Because you see, it is not for his pontificate that Pope John Paul II is beatified today. It is for his personal holiness. The man lived a Catholic life that should be an inspiration to us all. The fact that he was pope just called attention to it.
The former pope is beatified this first day of May, the month of Our Lady, which John Paul II held a deep devotion for, the motto of his papacy being "Totus Tuus" meaning "totally yours," expressing his personal consecration to Mary. It is simultaneously the second Sunday of Easter which is "Divine Mercy Sunday," a holy day created under his pontificate, as requested by Our Lord Jesus Christ through the Polish mystic and seer Saint Faustina Kowalska who was also canonized under his pontificate.

Lefebvre, Fellay, Williamson. Wouldn't they have just made for such awful Popes?!


Seán said...

Sainthood isn't just about personal holiness, it's about heroic virtue in one's state of life. A very holy husband and father who spends so much time in union with God that his household falls apart, would not have exercised heroic virtue. A priest's heroic virtue will be judged by his accountability for the souls of his flock, even more so a bishop, even more so a Pope.

Bl Jphn Paul did some great things. He wrote some great things. He had a great posthumous influence on my reversion to the Faith. But we cannot allow subjective sentimentality and affection for a man who did something for (even a very great number) of individuals cloud our judgement about the state of the WHOLE Church under his reign. It's grand that various converts and reverts came back because of him. That doesn't mean he should be beatified, it doesn't mean he lived a life of heroic virtue, it doesn't mean he was a good Pope.

And lest anyone impute bad faith to me, beatification is not an infallible exercise of the magisterium, and even if it was, the faithful have a right (according to Newman) to suggest that it was unfortunate that the magisterium was exercised infallbily.

What this beatification says to most is that, on the whole, most of what JP2 did was good. So this will include Assisi, pagan inculturation, altar girls, kissing of Qurans, Fr Maciel, 'St John the Baptist protect Islam', and the excommunication of 5 Catholics trying to be faithful to the Church (and the non-excommunication of countless liberal heretics and schismatics).

The below statement is a fuller account of the problems. I wish people would have left it a few years and been more dispassionate instead of focusing on what Bl JP did for ME etc...

Pax Laurence!

Seán, Ox.

Sean said...

More good stuff, from Hilary White:
So, here's my message for the JPII cheerleaders in town today:

There is a difference between your feelings about John Paul and the man himself.

Your enthusiasm for him does not make him a saint.

It doesn't make him "the Great".

It doesn't, in fact, have anything to do with him at all.

It mostly has to do with you and your feelings.

Your feelings about something don't affect that thing. They don't change facts or history. Feeling good about the Beatification doesn't make it a good thing for the Church.

The Bones said...

Sean, we are both aware that the Vatican's investigations of cited Miracles are extremely thorough. Through his intercession, a nun was healed, right? Unless you think the nun, the doctors and the Church are lying, Pope John Paul II is in Heaven, known to be in Heaven in a way in which Marcel Lefebvre is not known to be in Heaven. For all we know, Lefebvre could be roasting in the lowest region of Hell. I'm not speculating, mind, just saying that Heaven, through a Miracle attributed to Bl.JPII has revealed what Heaven wants the Church to know. JPII is reigning with Christ and the Hearts of Christ and His Mother listen to him!

Now, certain individuals within and without the Church may be unhappy that Pope John Paul II was so holy that Bl. Mother Teresa welcomed him into Paradise as soon as he died, but that doesn't change the facts. This resistance to the truth is just based on feelings, Sean, feelings!

The Church has spoken. That is, God's Church! God has made it known to His Church that He wills for the Church to have Bl. JPII as a holy intercessor before the Throne of God. That is why yesterday's events took place. In order to assert otherwise, you would have to allege that the Catholic Church fabricated a healing and a miracle to justify the Beatification of JPII. A bit far fetched, no?

By the way, popular canonisations based on public feeling go way back. St Anthony of Padua was canonised a year after his death. The same was true of St Francis of Assisi. Oh but they were different weren't they?! Uh-huh...why? Just another loud crowd shouting 'Santo Subito' at the end of the day.

Finally, Bl.JPII knockers are a little much. Sure. I'd like to see you be Pope and carry the Cross as heroically as he did. I'd like to see you bring down Communism. I'd like to see you hold the fort against the tsunami of liberalism within the Church. I'd like to see you being Pope for one day and see how you manage!

Pope John Paul II is in Heaven.

I don't know what planet his critics inhabit.

justin said...


Just because Beatification is not an exercise in Magesterial infallibility does not mean that those who dismiss it are not disobedient.

Summorum Pontificum was not an exercise in infallibility and yet those who dismiss it are clearly disobedient to the express wishes of the Holy Father.

When beatifying John Paul II, the Pope may or may not have been speaking infallibly, but he was speaking authoritatively.

And what was the Holy Father saying authoritatively? He was not suggesting that the Beatification was the act of the Congregation of Causes of Saints, or even recognition of the works of John Paul II himself. No, what the Pope was teaching authoritatively is that Beatification is recognition of the work of God, who through his cross and resurrection has redeemed the sinner, Karol, and brought him into the fullness of the beatific vision, numbering him among the Blessed.

Through the new Beatus intercession we have definitive proof of God's redemptive work through a miraculous intervention of a nun suffering from Parkinson's.

As for heroic virtue...the best person to judge this would be Pope Benedict. Not us. He himself saw how John Paul worked, who his enemies were, and what happened to the Church and he has been left with John Paul's legacy. The best judge of his legacy would therefore be Benedict himself. And there is no one in the world I trust more than the judgment of the Holy Father Benedict XVI.

Pope John Paul II publicly forgave his would-be assassin. That alone demonstrates heroic virtue, and gave us an example for all to follow.

Seán said...

Lots of strawmen! I didn't say he was a bad Pope (though I dared to question it! And the application of 'Great'). I didn't say he wasn't a beatus. I didn't say he wasn't in heaven. I didn't say the miracle was false.

I have however questioned the prudence of this beatification, because of the repurcussions and implications it has, because of what it will say in the future about things that, let's be honest, all of us here are concerned about. And this is a concern that no one has answered here!

And actually, a beatification is a permission for a cult, and permission to believe that this person beholds the beatific vision. Not a command! It is not a definitive statement, that's canonisation. I'm not denying that Bl JP is in heaven! But what Justin has said beatification is, is wrong.

This general agreement of theologians as to papal infallibility in canonization must not be extended to beatification, not withstanding the contrary teaching of the canonical commentary known as "Glossa" ... Canonists and theologians generally deny the infallible character of decrees of beatification, whether formal or equivalent, since it is always a permission, not a command; while it leads to canonization, it is not the last step. Moreover, in most cases, the cultus permitted by beatification, is restricted to a determined province, city, or religious body ... Some, however, have thought otherwise.

I did say pax you guys, there's no need to impute disobedience to me! Or to insinuate I live on another planet, or that I'm knocking Bl JP2. As I have made clear, I am not. But if we can't have a civil conversation presuming the good faith of all involved then fair enough.

The Bones said...

Heaven rejoices, so do we. The Church triumphant rejoices, so do we.

justin said...

"But what Justin has said beatification is, is wrong."

I didn't say Beatification was infallible. But it IS authoritative as it is a judgment by the Supreme Pontiff himself and demand the respect of an authoritative statement instead of reducing it to something as trite as "subjective sentimentality and affection" which is what Sean said. Because it is not. It is a judgment of the Pope based upon objective criteria such as first-hand experience of the personal sanctity of John Paul II, and also of the miracle worked by God through the intercession of the Pope.

Humanae Vitae is not infallible. Summorum Pontificum is not infallible. But they are authoritative nonetheless and demand respect (and obedience). Similarly this beatification demands the same.

justin said...

Lets also remember another thing re the Beatification. It is the will of the Pope. And Benedict himself said - it is the will of God.

Those who challenge Benedict XVI, who think they know better than him what the Church needs, who think they have a better picture of the worldwide Church than him, better make their reasons exceedingly clear.

It seems to me that people think they can attack the beatification of John Paul II without attacking the judgment of the Holy Father as well. In this case, especially after his Homily, there can be no distinction. An attack on JP2 constitutes an attack on BXVI. An attack on BXVI is an attack on the Church, and as Christ said, an attack on the Church is an attack on Christ himself.

This is why I am passionate about this. You can't be a faithful Catholic an attack the Pope.

Seán said...

'Attack the Pope'!

Did St Paul attack the Pope?

"An attack on BXVI is an attack on the Church, and as Christ said, an attack on the Church is an attack on Christ himself."

First off, I didn't attack the Pope. As a faithful son, I questioned the prudence of the action of my father. If you think I have sinned there, please say so. I however suggest that a subtle ultramontanism is at work here. Crd Ratzinger himself said that one could legitimately say that it would be better if a certain Pope hadn't defined a certain thing, or if a Council had not been called.

Regarding Ultramontanism, as Cano of Trent said:

‘Peter has no need of our lies or flattery. Those who blindly and indiscriminately defend every decision of the Supreme Pontiff are the very people who do most to undermine the authority of the Holy See – they destroy instead of strengthening its foundations.’

Once the Church deemed it important enough to wait decades after the death of a person, to avoid accusations of personal bias towards ones' deceased friend. I am not accusing Pope Benedict of this. But others are. That could have been side-stepped had we waited. Once we had a devil's advocate for causes to test all of the evidence - and to try to disprove the miracles. Now, Bl John Paul himself saw fit to get rid of that post, and when I and others question his cause, we are railed against. And off course we can question what is said in a homily by a Pope. We are not ultramontanists!

Summorum pontificum is NOT infallible, it is a legal document. To disobey it is illegal, not unfaithful. Humnae vitae is infallbile, in virtue of it's reiteration of traditional teaching of the ordinary magisterium.

Beatifications and homilies are neither legal nor infallible.

Justin, if you would like to point out where I have been disrespectful or disobedient I would be grateful. You will notice that I have referred to the late Pope as Bl throughout this discussion. I have asked for his intercession privately. I am NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT questioning his beatification (though a Catholic could do so in good conscience and remain in good standing with the Church, even if some people want to insist on ultramontanism!). I am saying that I believe his canonisation to have been imprudent, for the reasons contained in the Remnant article. After another round of comments, still no one has actually addressed that point, and Justin has simply told me that I have no right to have that view. Justin, you've also basically told me that I'm not a faithful Catholic (because you think I'm attacking the Pope). In response, I simply repeat Cano:

‘Peter has no need of our lies or flattery. Those who blindly and indiscriminately defend every decision of the Supreme Pontiff are the very people who do most to undermine the authority of the Holy See – they destroy instead of strengthening its foundations.’


Seán said...

And anyway Justin, this polemic is getting silly. I have not attacked the beatification. To do so would not be an attack on the Holy Father. And you seem to also think that the will of the Holy Father is immutable and above question. Why do we still have ultramontanism?! What would you say to St Paul when he reproached St Peter to his face? We spend all our time presenting careufully formulated arguments to evangelicals about what exactly papal authority means - only to promptly through them out when we deal with the Pope himself or other Catholics. So I will question the Pope here and will continue to do so on other matters that make no sense to me, because that is my duty as a Catholic with rational faculties. I recognise his primacy and his authority, I hold everything that the Catholic Church teaches and says is revealed by God. Again:

‘Peter has no need of our lies or flattery. Those who blindly and indiscriminately defend every decision of the Supreme Pontiff are the very people who do most to undermine the authority of the Holy See – they destroy instead of strengthening its foundations.’

Paul Smeaton said...

Say it again Sam! Sorry, I mean Sean.

Seán said...

Happy birthday to you too Paul! lol

Anonymous said...

I am glad that I have seen a lot of the statements above regarding the newly Beatified Pope. I thought that I was the only one who also felt that although his papacy was an improvement over Pope Paul's the end of it is mixed. The clerical sex-abuse issue I am afraid will continue to overshadow his legacy. And I also agree that there was and still is a strong Personality Cult with this Pope unlike past ones

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