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?!