Thanks to the stupidity of our not-so-beloved V II clergy, Catholics the world over are going to be put to a hard test in four days' time.
I have already written on the matter, and have since not found any evidence to the contrary that the infallibility of the canonisations concerns merely the fact that the canonised person is in Heaven. In other words, neither the heroic virtues nor being, say, a halfway acceptable Pope are infallible requirements for the purpose.
Which makes a lot of sense. If Joan of Arc is canonised, must the English become supporters of France? Does the canonisation make of Celestine V a good Pope? And where exactly would the heroic virtue to be seen in St. Dismas for pretty much the entire duration of his life, and his chosen, ahem, profession, bar those hours on the Golgotha? Did Christ ask him to pass a decade-long trial, and prove a life of heroic virtue? No, he made Dismas santo subito instead.
Or let us look at the other side and let us say canonisations are not, and have never been, infallible. What are they then: pious suggestions? Strong hints that someone might be in heaven? “Oh dear Padre Pio, unless the Pope was wrong, please intercede for me!” Hhmmm, doesn't sound like much to me…
“Oh, but you must pick one about whom you are persuaded! Then it will be all fine!” some of you might say. But come on, if it comes to that then it is our personal opinion that really counts, and the entire concept of canonisations crumbles. Say: I do not need any Pope to be practically persuaded that Pius XII is in heaven. Padre Pio had a mystical vision of him in heaven, and Padre Pio's conviction is good enough for me every day of the week. But there is no need for canonisation for that. Barring the obvious concept that in the end only God decides, people didn't need to wait for St Francis' canonisation in order to have an extremely strong degree of confidence that he was in heaven, either.
No. If you ask me, Canonisations can only reasonably mean, if we want to give them the sense most Catholics have always given to them, that in this matter God will not allow mistakes. Because if He did, then there would never be any additional security given by the canonisation, and we would all go back to the “servant of God” scenario: the dearly departed was a very saintly man because of abundant and widely proved examples, and it is therefore very probable that he is in heaven. Unless we are mistaken. Which we could be. Always. Even if he is canonised. Does this make sense? Is this reasonable? Are we of such little faith that we start to doubt God's work whenever things happen we do not like?
Or look at it from the other side: if JP II is not in heaven, why would God allow a canonisation that is, has always been and will always be considered by most Catholics a most solemn, infallible assurance of beatific vision, and company with God? Would God not protect this pious belief, or prevent it from taking such solid roots in the Christian thinking? How can it be that the belief in the infallibility of canonisation – though not, properly speaking, dogmatically declared – could spread in such a way and be so strong after 2000 years? Why would, for example, God have allowed that the canonisation be extended beyond, so to speak, historically safe, “certified” martyrs?
It does not make sense to me. It is like stating that God has allowed the Church to believe what is wrong for 2,000 years. At this point, everything that has not been dogmatically and infallibly declared could be questioned, too, because hey: if it's not officially infallible, then it's everyone's guess.
I rather think this: that if either John or John Paul are not in heaven, the Holy Ghost has inspired Francis not to proceed with the canonisations, but Francis has, with typical stubborn rebellion, decided it was all merely a chimaera of his fantasy, a bad mood of an impressionable old man. And then in the next very few days he will have to die, or will be put in the impossibility of proceeding to the canonisations; because God allows Francis to fool men; but He Himself, He will not be fooled.
Rejoice, therefore. If these disgraceful – because of the message they send, and the V II propaganda they are meant to encourage – canonisations are a lie, the lie will not come to pass, and we might get rid of a disastrous Pope to boot. If they come to pass, they aren't a lie, and we will do what we as Catholics do: believe, obey, and be glad for other people's blessings.
Which does not mean you have to approve this or that Pontificate.
No one ever asked you to approve of highway robbery because of St. Dismas, either.
He reports a quotation from JP II. Pope Wojtyla was being interviewed by Vittorio Messori. Being one in the mould of Bergoglio, Messori asks the Pope, of all things, whether he was not “obsessive” about pro-life issues.
Now stop a moment and reflect on the forma mentis of those like Messori. To them, the unpleasant parts of Christianity are those to be glossed over as fast as one can; one who insists on such disharmony-creating ideas like fighting against abortion must, therefore, be forcibly suspected of being “obsessive”. Personally, I would be ashamed of even thinking, let alone asking, such a question to anyone, let alone a Pope. But I digress…
Pope JP II answered as follows:
The legalization of the termination of pregnancy is none other than the authorization given to an adult, with the approval of an established law, to take the lives of children yet unborn and thus incapable of defending themselves. It is difficult to imagine a more unjust situation, and it is very difficult to speak of obsession in a matter such as this, where we are dealing with a fundamental imperative of every good conscience — the defense of the right to life of an innocent and defenseless human being.”
By all the liturgical and ecu-maniacal shortcomings of Pope Wojtyla, I doubt Francis will ever express himself in such clear-cut way, even if he were to be Pope for the next 77 years. More worryingly, I doubt Francis thinks like Wojtyla did; because as I have just said, what the heart feels the mouth will tell.
Little review: what did Francis mouth tell? A generally smart commenter, signing as “the chicken”, has made the googling for us:
One reads around (not on this blog, happily) the comments about the impending canonisations, and can’t avoid being shocked.
I am sure there are out there people who criticise the mad nuns for being against male priesthood, but think they have the right to question who is in heaven.
Last time I looked, canonisation was a matter of infallibility. Besides being what the Church teaches, it makes sense. If the Church authorised us to think that a canonised saint is not in heaven, canonisations wouldn’t make any sense anymore. It stands to reason that if canonisations are to have the value the Church attaches to them (you may pray such and such for help, say, with the certainty he or she is in heaven), then they must be infallible. If they aren’t infallible, then they don’t make sense. But this is also, in the end, idle talk. Canonisations are infallible because the Church says they are.
I struggle, therefore, to understand those who keep mentioning the Koran kissed by the late Pope John Paul II, or the atrocious liturgical abuses, or the inaction in front of the priest scandals, or the selective blindness – in good faith, of course – towards people he trusted like Maciel, as if these were in any way evidence this canonisation is “wrong”. A Sedevacantist might think so and still call himself coherent, but everyone else cannot think so and not call himself a Sedevacantist.
Canonisations are infallible, as is the teaching about male priesthood. Those who think they know better in matters of canonisations (without clearly saying they believe the sea is vacant) aren’t more Catholic than the mad nuns who think they know better in the matter of male priesthood.
Therefore, the question is not that Pope JP II could not have gone to heaven after kissing the Koran, & Co., but that he most certainly managed to get to Heaven after doing it. Obviously, and if Catholicism is to have sense at all, he will have repented. But to rebel to infallible teaching just because we don’t like the consequences is just what a mad nun would do.
We know JP II did manage to get to heaven, because the Church says so.
It doesn’t make sense to harp with the “ifs” and the “buts”. It doesn’t make sense to say that if one doesn’t “understand”, then it might not be so. Every “if” and every “but” simply dies in front of the infallibility of canonisations.
What we say we are, we must also be. We say we are Catholics. This means we believe everything that the Church believes, and profess everything that the Church professes. The infallibility of canonisations is not an innovation of V II that some evil prelate suddenly wants to smuggle as infallible doctrine. on the contrary, it is part and parcel of the way the Church understands Herself.
Don’t be a reverse cafeteria Catholic.
Together with the new Encyclical, the Holy Father today announced the canonisation of both John Paul II and John XXIII. In the case of the latter, the Pope waived the usual requirement for a second miracle.
My limited understanding of these things tells me that canonisations are a matter of infallibility; therefore, the day the Pope decides to canonise Annibale Bugnini, or Pope Leo X, I will shut up and believe they are both in Heaven. So much easier is to get accustomed to the idea of the two men slated for canonisation, whose personal piety and saintliness is not questioned. The matter of infallibility also has as corollary that the Holy Ghost will strike Pope Francis dead if John XXIII is not in heaven, which in my book is guarantee enough the Holy Father has read the file with a certain attention.
In fact, I consider such canonisations, in themselves, very encouraging for the likes of us, because whilst great Saints of the past come to us with an aura of granitic heroism, the limits of the earthly decisions and actions of the two new saints are very evident to everyone with some attitude to thinking, particularly concerning the Koran-kissing, Buddha-on-the-altar, Pray-with-infidels John Paul II. If, therefore, one can commit such impious acts and still manage – after suitable contrition, no doubt – to land straight to Heaven without a more or less painful and prolonged stop in Purgatory, there is some bigger hope for us not so pious, but less sacrilegious sinners to, at least, avoid hell.
What is not only bad, but of course very bad are two intended consequences of these canonisations.
1. The V II crowd will desperately try to smuggle personal saintliness for the canonisation of V II itself; which is bollocks, but just what the Argentinian doctor ordered. Can't wait for the beatification of all the VII heavyweights from Rahner to Meisner.
2. Pope Venerable Pius XII is still waiting – I mean, he is not waiting; but we are; though in a sense we aren't, either – for the beatification, for which leaked information published on this blog state the beatification mass prayer is ready, a clear sign the procedure has been concluded. It strikes one as odd – but again, also as normal – that the Pastor Angelicus is forgotten in this way. I suspect his old habit of praying (and counting! counting!! I kid you not!) rosaries sits badly with the current Pontiff; besides the fact that Pope Pius XII was, clearly, very much the “Renaissance Prince”…
What, therefore, these canonisations mean for the likes of us? They mean that we must, in our little circle of half-Catholics, agnostics and utter infidels, explain that not being canonised does not mean not to be in Heaven; that the soul in Heaven is past any care whether he is canonised or not, much less when; and that the decision to canonise a saint is also a political one (because a Pope can decide a certain canonisation is not opportune, for example, whilst another one is). From such decision we can see, for example, which direction a Pope wants to give to his reign, but not who was the saintlier man, much less the better Pope.
Let us rejoice, then, at the news of two very questionable Popes (I mean obviously: questionable qua Popes) in Heaven. I wish heaven to people I strongly dislike, I will have no difficulty whatever in exulting at he canonisation of two saintly men.
The obviously planned canonisation of Vatican II is, of course, a different matter altogether. Actually, the canonisations call for more frequent cannon work, as you can be sure the pansies will now stage a full scale program of celebration.
Thinking of which, yours truly is even tempted to think the decision to proceed to these new canonisations has been precipitated by the utter indifference with which the Catholic world has (not) greeted the anniversary of V II; an indifference calling for measures which, from a purely political point of view, reek of desperation. As if two, or twenty, canonisations could make right what is wrong.
Vatican II must die, and die will it one day.
In the meantime, let us rejoice. They made it straight, we can make it in instalments.
If you have looked at the Video of Pope Francis visiting the Pontiff Emeritus yesterday, you could probably not avoid noticing how frail Benedict looked. If one thinks that only at the beginning of February he was still fully in charge, one begins to have a very clear picture of why his decision to abdicate was a wise one.
I never bought the story of the “Cross from which the Pope is not supposed to step down”. If the duty of a Pope had traditionally been to be frail and ineffective, the Popes would have been traditionally chosen among the oldest and sickest, in the hope their frailty goes on for as long as possible; after which, the next sick old man would have been picked up.
We all know this was never the case, and when it happened that old men were chosen for the office it was because a ” transition Pope” (that is: one of whom the Cardinals thought he would not occupy the position for very long) was considered preferable to a long impasse or a very public quarrel.
Please also consider the most famous Popes were men full of energy. Leo the Great, Gregory the Great, Urban II, or Pius IX (to mention just a few) were Popes who would have never thought it would be better for them to be old, frail, and ultimately factually irrelevant. Popes were meant to reign, not to be put in a shop window (or a “Popemobile”) for all the world to see Catholicism is de facto without its guide.
Pope Pius XII was a Pope I continue to go back to, because it seems to me in most cases if you want to know how a Pope did it right you only have to look at what this great Pope did. Pope Pacelli was a man of such strong energy and iron will, that in one of the most difficult periods in the history of the Church he united in himself the functions of Pope and Secretary of State. Nothing less than full control was enough for him. This, my friends, is a Pope who sees his role rather differently than being looked at behind the bullet proof glass of a vehicle. In fact, Pope Pius XII thought of resigning when it became clear to him he could not reign properly anymore; and we are talking of a time where the Church had things so much under control – though challenges are always there – that the Western societies of the Fifties seem to belong to a different age than the present ones.
What does this tell us? It tells us that a Pope is supposed to function as a Pope, rather than as a televised ad for Catholicism. The “shop window Pope” is very well for the Curia, who can easily manipulate him; or for the local hierarchies, who can do as they please; but it's not good at all for the Church, who needs to be led by Peter, not by a bunch of Cardinals no one ever made Pope and avoiding, at least on this earth, every accountability.
It is not surprising that weak or ill Popes cause the Curia to become inefficient, or corrupt. What is surprising is that the same people who lament the Curia's inefficiency (or corruption) are perfectly fine with years and years of impotent Popes, unable to reign or, alas, even to think properly. They don't see that weak Popes, like weak Kings or Emperors, unavoidably lead to the supremacy of the shrewdest manipulators, to a total lack of accountability, and to an environment of savage intrigue, whereas strong Popes will, for good or for bad, steer the Barque where they want to, and be clearly seen as responsible for what they do.
If we are honest with ourselves, Benedict wouldn't have gone down in history with the nickname “the iron Pope” if he had been in best health every day of his Papacy. Still, the exercise of power always needs a certain amount of energy, of inner fire, of will to demand and command that builds on a certain amount of strength. This strenght is needed to cope with the adrenalines, the difficult decisions, the opposition, the punishments if must be, that the exercise of power invariably demands. Seeing Benedict in yesterday's video, it is abundantly clear this fire isn't there any longer.
An intelligent man, and a man who loves the Church, Benedict must have seen it. He had also seen from very near the quasi-Sede Vacante situation created in the last five, or more, years of his predecessor's reign. He has, I am certain, correctly assessed such a situation as damaging for the Church; and he has decided to draw the consequences from his own situation for the good of the Church, irrespective of the criticism he knew would be levelled at him.
Pope Benedict wasn't an Iron Pope, but he understood the need for the Church to be guided by a Pope, not by an unelected small group of shrewd manipulators. He was intelligent enough to see the issue, and unselfish enough to take a step he knew would be criticised. It pains me, it truly pains me to see a man able to take such a selfless decision, and being criticised for it.
If you ask me, this, what Pope Benedict showed us, was the true courage and the true humility; not the iron cross, the black shoes, and the absence of Mozzetta.
May the Almighty grant Benedict serene days of prayer on earth, and reward this gentle man for this beautiful act of courage.
To say it with King Theoden, “and so it begins”: the dreaded Assisi III is upon us.
I cannot avoid noticing that in these last days, the secular/atheist press has given some space (more than I ever dared to dream) to the criticism from conservative Catholics of the past Assisi exercises, and the efforts made by the Holy Father to make things differently. You find in the so-called “Guardian” one of the frequent examples of the last weeks.
One cannot avoid a smile at seeing that the numerically still small fraction of conservatively minded Catholics is now so much in the centre stage of Catholic life that even the dark red “Guardian” notices its presence. Still, it seems to me that already today – and very probably, more so in the next days – it can be easily said that this Assisi gathering brings to the light the mistakes of the past ones. In his effort to let people know how to do it right, the Holy Father brings to the attention of the Catholic world how, in the past, it was made wrong. This, of course, provided that this gathering doesn’t give rise to scandals, which – though I am personally half-optimist, as long as I can – remains to be seen.
If Assisi I and Assisi II were right, then there was no necessity to point out to the differences. If they were wrong, then I continue not to see the necessity of, one generation later, informing the Catholic planet of the fact. It seems to me a bit as if the Vatican would promote a new and orthodox version of Jansenism in order to show that what was done wrongly in the past can be done rightly in the future.
Add to this that I am very afraid to be submerged by the worst possible “we are the world” rhetoric, the piercing smell of peace and love molasses already reaching these not-so-delicate ears.
We will see how this pans out. I trust that it will not be anything anywhere similar to the 1986 gatherings in his heretic potential, but I am afraid that it will still be much different from how Conservative Catholics would have done it.
If they thought they had to do it, that is; which I personally don’t believe at all.
I have written only hours ago about the message of Pope Benedict to the German bishops, that they are better at being organised than at believing in God. Some mild – for my standards – reflections about the inadequate shepherds these past decades have given us followed.
In a spectacular confirmation of Pope Benedict’s words – and very probably, of the fact that the Holy Father’s talk is rather better than his walk – I read today about this story, brilliantly explained by the “Reluctant Sinner”.
Seriously, go there and try to stay calm. I couldn’t, and frankly I do not feel that I could write about this with the necessary serenity.
Before you click away, you may want to click on the link on the right, that will lead you to the small page dedicated to the daily offering to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It wasn’t enough for me, but it might be for you.
I am making an effort, as you see, not to say what I think.
The worst of all that is that I must admit that it isn’t probable that there will be consequences. This is the world we live in.
Bishop Vienneau is, by the way, an appointment of the late John Paul the Not So Great.
The CNA reports Pope Benedict’s observations about the German Church with the following words:
Using Catholicism in Germany as an example, the Pope said that while the German Church was “superbly organized” it was perhaps lacking in a “corresponding spiritual strength, the strength of faith in a living God.”
Having lived in Germany more than some years, I can only confirm the analysis. Whilst no one can deny that the German Church is very well organised – besides the German penchant for organisation, this is an extremely wealthy Church – during my German years I could never escape the impression that for all German Christian organisations (the Only Church as well as the Protestant ecclesial communities) God is an embarrassment that can be safely mentioned only in the most innocuous of circumstances, that is: in conjunction with “feel-good” issues like world peace, or social justice.
This is why the Holy Father’s words are important: the Pope is telling his bishops that an important reason why the Germans are getting more and more distant from a healthy approach to life – the critic of the Western secularism is here clearly aimed at the specific situation he is dealing with - is that “the faith in a living God” is lacking in strenght in his own shepherds.
I see the same happening here in the UK of course, though I find here in the UK examples of spotless orthodoxy that would be probably more difficult to find in Germany. But the message is clear: if the shepherds don’t have a strong faith, how will they be able to give a strong faith to their sheep? As always, the fish stinks from the head down.
When we ask ourselves, though, who has appointed the present German hierarchy, two names come to mind: Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. My suggestion to the Holy Father would be – if I were ever be asked to give one – that if he wants that the German Church has a strong faith it might help to appoint bishops who have it, rather than failed social workers obsessed with popularity, and with the Kirchensteuer.
Another interesting observation of the Holy Father concerns the difference that people coming from other countries see in the individual attitude of Westerners: the obsessive self-centredness.
Even coming from Italy – a partly secularised country, but where traditional values still have a stronger hold than here in the North – I was rather shocked at seeing how here in the UK and in the USA the pursuing of one’s every whim has become a religion in itself. A married couple informing their friends that they are going to split will be inundated with messages of “support” and wishes of “happiness”, reinforcing the idea that the pursuit of the individual happiness of the two be more important than the godly institution they have just decided to bomb. Not so in Italy, where la famiglia, exactly as la Patria - and, alas, often even more so – has rights on the individual that go above his own pursuit of an anyway largely illusory personal happiness.
This in Italy, a partially secularised country. I can imagine the shock of people coming from African countries, where not many think twice about walking for hours every week to go to Mass, and the Christian commandments are different from their Western counterparts “be nice”, “don’t judge” and “provided no one is harmed, it isn’t a sin”.
I heard with my ears a Catholic priest say that he didn’t know the Ten Commandments by heart, and wasn’t interested in learning them.
I don’t think you’ll find many of those outside of the West.
We all know and hopefully dislike the “instant” that has become so common in our time. Instant coffee, instant soup, instant gratification. After a while, it turns out that the instant coffee isn’t really at par with the non-instant one, the instant soup is even worse, and the instant gratification is not really gratifying and only takes one away from more important gratifications requiring, alas, much more time; guitar instead of video games, say, or learning Italian to read your Dante properly, or just something simple like a slowly and lovingly cooked meal rather than pre-processed garbage.
Andrea Tornielli at “Vatican Insider” has now a rather worrying story about a new manifestation of this instant gratification mentality, “instant canonisation”.
The re-inventor (in modern times) of this new fashion is – and how could it have been otherwise – the late Pope, Blessed John Paul II. Pope John Paul II was not one for waiting, particularly if easily gained instant popularity for the Church was part of the equation. Therefore, he sounded around whether in the case of Mother Theresa those oppressive red tape procedures – already largely massacred from … himself – could not have been skipped altogether, elegantly jumping the boring formality of beatification and immediately starting to work on the next Great Media Show And Popularity Festival, Mother Teresa’s canonisation.
Those asked must have politely defined the initiative, in “Yes, Prime Minister” parlance, “courageous”, because even if John Paul II skipped, with the usual athleticism, the minimum waiting time, the beatification itself was not skipped.
We are now informed that after the death of the late Pope, the same ideas were circulated; this time, concerning Pope John Paul himself, and promoted by none other than his secretary, Stanislaw Dziwisz. Here the Polish athleticism reached Usain Bolt proportions, the idea that a Pope should make a historical exception in the matter of the canonisation of his own predecessor being very similar to Merriam-Webster’s definition of “questionable”.
Happily, Pope Benedict had the sense of braking the impetus of the former secretary, though he didn’t see it fit to stick to the rules, either. Therefore, we got another “exception”, the second in just a few years. Predictably, this second exception didn’t fail to damage the institution of Beatification, – which is, as you will remember, not a matter of infallibility like the canonisation – attract vocal criticism and, in general, succeed in making of a rather uncontroversial institution the object of loud disputes.
This, the late Pope had not deserved, as his undoubtedly saintly character and exemplary life (as a religious, I mean) would have certainly allowed for a slowly cooked, but far more savoury and enjoyable beatification at a later point in time. It surprises one that the Church, accustomed and expected to think in very long terms, should completely forget her own wise habits regarding an institution so directly linked with her prestige and reputation.
Like instant coffee and instant soup, instant beatification proved a rather tasteless, inferior product.
Below are some of the comments in the comment box of the National Catholic Reporter. Let us see what kind of deluded humanity we find there.
There is the one who has decided that 2000 years of Tradition are just wrong, whereas he himself is, of course, right:
The whole system of leadership appointment needs change and should come from the bottom up not the top down.
Then there is the one who doesn’t need the Church, because the Church doesn’t serve him and doesn’t accommodate his needs:
I answer to God not to any priest, bishop, or pope. I find less need everyday for a non-responsive, self-serving hierarchy.
Interesting is also the one who thinks that God himself has been conned these last 2000 years. Thankfully, we now have him to tell us what God always wanted:
The “Way” that Jesus showed us and invited us to follow had no hierarchs, not even the Temple priests
Amuse yourself with the one who says himself a Catholic, whilst also saying that being Catholic is bad (hey, his ex-Lutheran wife, but rather still Lutheran wife, “taught” him so). One wonders who has converted whom:
I was raised as a Catholic (Big C) and married a Lutheran, who converted to the big C. She has taught me that the word ‘catholic’ should never have the big C. The day we accept that we are catholic, and not Roman Catholic, we will all be better off.
Or do you prefer the obsessed trendy with nightmares of Trent restoration:
Benedict is doing a more disgusting job than John Paul II in trying to drag Catholics back to Trent.
What about the Pentecostal “the Holy Spirit directs us” chap, who at the same time is obviously not directed by the Holy Spirit to write in proper English (emphases mine):
Since Vatican Council II—the People of God have implemented what the Council was directing them to do. It was JP II (the Grate) and Benedict the Panzar Pope, who were/are trying to drag people back to where THEY were comfortable—a Church of subserviant people—who are “little people, simple (read stupid) who need their bishops to point out the way for them (this is a synopsis of Benedict’s thoughts)
Finally, there’s the anarchist revolutionary, believing in Revelation through the Internet. Unfortunately he misses the signs of the times, big time. He also seems to believe that higher education is a modern invention:
When all is said and done, I think point #4 in your critique is the bedrock of the revolution that is now happening in the modern church. The current so-called leaders are still living in the ages where only members of the clergy could read and only members of the hierarchy could make spiritual decisions. Now, in the modern age, vast numbers of people are thinking for themselves because of the effects of institutions of higher learning and the availability of research and documentation.
This is just the result of a couple of minutes of browsing, and all the comments are taken from merely two blog posts.
You’d never say this come from the site of a magazine calling itself “Catholic”.
Tomorrow is the 13th May, the day of the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin to the children of Fatima.
It migh tbe a coincidence that this be the day for the publication of Universae Ecclesiae, the new Ecclesia Dei document with the instructions about Summorum Pontificum. But I love to think that it isn’t.
The document would appear to be not good, but very good and if the legal part is followed by a robust enforcement (perhaps with the one or other exemplary punishment of some of the most reluctanct bishops, following a pattern that has started to take form in the last months), then this might be an important step forward toward a Church where everyone has reasonable access to a Tridentine Mass.
If I may allow myself the thought, I think it’s fair to say that on the day of John Paul II’s death – around only six years ago – no one would have imagined that things would have progressed so far, so fast. Again, we now need a healthy enforcement.
In all this there was, mind you, no schism. Schism is, I think, rather an excuse for inactivity than a real danger.
Browsing the net, I have found that this rather impressive news had already been published by the Corriere della Sera last November. The link is not accessible without logging in, therefore I will link to this for those of you blessed with a knowledge of the most useless, but most beautiful language on the planet.
The information is very clear and rather complete, and it is improbable that the Corriere della Sera would risk a blunder on such a matter. It would therefore appear that the prayer has been written by don Nicola Bux, an advisor of the CDF, and that it has already obtained the imprimatur from Cardinal Bagnasco, the head of the italian Bishop’s Conference.
It also transpires from the article ( I didn’t know it) that Rai Uno has broadcast a TV series about the life of Pius XII, obviously criticised by the professional holocaust-whinos among those of the Jewish persuasions. Being Rai Uno rather conservative, still clearly Catholic and with the best links with the Vatican, it seems clear to me that the work was meant to “prepare” the Italians to a beatification that it is now difficult not to consider probable in the next few years. In addition, it seems even more difficult to believe that all preparatory work would be made without at least a “safe” miracle, whose existence has been wildly rumoured but never confirmed.
I do hope that Pope Benedict will find the courage to proceed with the beatification of this great, great Pope, choosing – as he must in this case – to weather the storm caused by the liberal, the ignorant and some of the above-mentioned “older brothers and sisters”. A political decision, of course, by which the Holy Father will have to weight the positive and – if any ;) – negative effects.
May I remind you on this occasion that, on the day of Pope Pacelli’s death, the great saint Padre Pio had a beatific vision of the Pope in paradise, surrounded by angels, which went on for hours. Padre Pio himself never made a mystery of such an occurrence and for the rest of his life showed the utmost certainty about the holy Pope being in Paradise. It goes without saying that the devout followers of Padre Pio – yours truly among them – will, due to the extraordinary power and duration of this vision, find it difficult not to be as persuaded about Pope Pius XII’s immediate access to Paradise as the great Saint himself was.
Let us hope and pray. It seemed clear to me, though, that it is now only a matter of “when”, not “if”.
Hans Küng lives in a world apart, rarely disturbed by inconvenient things like, say, reality.
From his separate planet, this vecchio malvissuto (yes, Manzoni again) has given an interview to the German Frankfurter Rundschau (reds, mind you; think of them as of the German “Guardian”) and has said some astonishing but, nevertheless, rather entertaining things. Let us examine some of the pearls of this heretical wannabe “thinker”, whose logic a child knowing his Penny Catechism could demolish without a second thought (and therefore, “cannabis thinker” might be more appropriate).
The Rundschau says that;
Küng argues that John Paul’s harsh treatment of Latin American liberation theologians such as Gutierrez and Boff represented the “exact opposite” of decent Christian behaviour
This is really, really not funny. The late Pope slept very soundly for about five years (means: the usual useless appeals, followed by other useless appeals) before finally acting against the so-called Liberation Theology. This inaction was a scandal and nothing less than a disgrace. But no, in cannabislandia you are unchristian because you move against heresy. I’d like to know with what behaviour (after the many years of sound sleep) Mr. Küng would have been satisfied. Conversion to heresy, methinks. Or passing the joint.
On the “santo subito” events, our man says:
“The whole thing was just a con act by conservative and reactionary Catholic groups, especially those ones that are very strong in Spain, Italy and Poland.”
One really wonders whether this man reads the newspapers. All over the planet, conservative Catholics are in a frenzy because of the rush with which this beatification has been pushed through, and the chap thinks that it has been… manipulated by them. I wonder when in Mr. Küng’s mind you start being “conservative”. Probably when you wear a priest’s habit (or when you don’t want to smoke joints).
The biscuit must, though, go to this one:
“John Paul II is universally praised as someone who fought for peace and human rights. But his preaching to the outside world was in total contrast with the way he ran the church from inside, with an authoritarian pontificate which suppressed the rights of both women and theologians.”
Even by sixty-eighters standards, this is rather unbelievable. A Pope is criticised for being…… a Pope! He is considered oppressive for being…. Catholic! What does this chap smoke in the morning ?!
It is beyond me how this man could ever be considered a Catholic, let alone a theologian. Either he is not compos mentis because of excessive marijuana consumption, or he is so firmly in the hand of the devil that he doesn’t even care to disguise it anymore in any conceivable way. He reminds one of the beautiful words of Father Corapi:
My grandmother, who had only an eighth grade education, knew more than many theologians because she knew the truth.
Hans Küng has culpably and willfully chosen not to know the truth; or perhaps he knows it all too well and tries to undermine, it because he is on Satan’s side.
In all this, he cannot even see the great scandal which, alone, destroys all his pot-related (or, alternatively, satanic) theories: that he has not yet been defrocked.
In both cases, another beautiful Corapi saying applies:
When you crash against the rock, you will not damage the rock but you will hurt yourself.
Reading around the Internet some of the reflection about today’s beatification of John Paul II, I would like to point out to a couple of aspects which are, in my eyes, rather important in order to put today’s events in the right perspective. Though I have already written a similar post here, I’d like to tackle the issue again from the point of view of the effect it causes on others, particularly non-Catholics.
1) A beatification has the same rank of a private revelation. No Catholic is obliged to believe that the person made blessed really is in Paradise. This obligation only comes into effect with the canonisation. This should, I think, always be said very clearly when you discuss the matter.
2) A beatification (or a canonisation) exclusively deals with the saintly life and heroic virtue of the blessed or saint and with the presence of the required number (if any; for the beatification of martyrs no miracles are required) of miracles, but is no endorsement of the operate of a person as a Pope, or in whatever other public role he might have been involved. Please stress this to everyone you talk about the matter. This should also be stressed with much energy whenever someone mentions the beatification.
3) The great “expansion” of the number of beatifications starting from JP II is, in my eyes, questionable; still, given the fact that as a Catholic do not have to believe a single one of the beatifications anyway I allow myself to feel relaxed on the point. My – or your – questioning the opportunity of such a number of beatification is therefore perfectly orthodox.
4) More delicate is the question about canonisations. As Catholics, we are bound to believe that the canonised person is in Paradise. As Catholics, we must believe that the Holy ghost would never, ever allow a Pope to make a mockery of the process. Every criticism of the new canonisation process must therefore keep this truth in sight: that every canonisation is to be accepted by the faithful as truth, be they very few or very many. This is very important if we want to avoid confusing our interlocutors.
5) Personally, I didn’t like JP II’s pontificate; not one bit; neither as a whole, nor in any one of his single most defining traits. I’d say that after Paul VI, JP II can be considered the worst Pope of modern times, by a comfortable margin. But this is my assessment of his pontificate, not of his saintliness. I strictly detach the first (the in my eyes catastrophic effect of almost 27 years of “Wojtylism”, by which an entire generation of Catholics grew up without even knowing the Ten Commandments, but ready to fill airports) from the second (the fact that the man was really trying to do his best, and was personally very holy).
6) “Holy” doesn’t mean, again, perfect in the same way as heroic virtue doesn’t mean perfection. People have their own foibles and character’s traits, the blessed and saints as everyone else. Even Padre Pio had his shortcomings, and was harshly criticised because of them. But we honour the saint anyway; even more so, because in reflecting about the shortcomings of very saintly men we can better understand how difficult it was for them, as for everyone else.
I assume that every conservative Catholic can easily agree with all the above points, though there will be obvious differences in the assessment of the concrete situation. Again, by every criticism we run the danger of confusing the Catholics and must, therefore, be particularly prudent.
If I were challenged by non-Catholics, or by non conservative Catholics, to say a word about the beatification I would accurately separate:
a) the man from the pope,
b) the canonisation from the beatification and
c) my dislike with this or that part of the new procedure with the Catholic Truth concerning canonisations.
As Catholics, please let us be mindful that whilst we can criticise the beatification procedure as much as we want, we must be mindful not to give the impression that we have ceased to believe in the binding value of the canonisations.
In addition, by the appalling ignorance about Catholicism now rampant ever among Catholics themselves, I wouldn’t give any critical, liberal Catholic a reason to believe that Catholic truth are considered not so untouchable, if even conservative Catholics appear to attack them.
Within the boundaries of acceptance of Catholic truth in the matter, I’d say that everyone should feel free to exercise his criticism as much as he likes.
A non-Catholic seeing that a Catholic can be very critical, but is always loyal will register the fact and, at a more or less conscious level, remain impressed.
In view of tomorrow’s beatification, I re-post what I wrote in January.
And so it is out: the beatification of JP II will take place on the 1st May.
I am, as no reader of this blog can avoid noticing, no great fan of the man as a Pope. I think that his contribution to the fall of Communism is vastly, vastly exaggerated (the one who did it for communism was clearly the Gipper; George Walker Bush and Pope John Paul II only reaped the benefits afterwards and the liberal press would commit suicide rather than give Reagan his due) and I find it frankly extraordinary that a Pope should be praised for…. being opposed to Communism.
As far as his work as Pope is concerned, I personally think that the only redeeming feature of his too long Pontificate is the fact that he came (excluding the short weeks of what could have been a wonderful Pope, Albino Luciani) after Paul VI, the undisputed Jimmy Carter of the Church. JP II’s actions against the problems of his time (say: the Dutch Schism, Liberation Theology, the rampant “spirit of Vatican II”-mentality) can be considered in a halfway positive manner only in the light of Paul VI’s tragic impotence, but were slow and contributing to the confusion of Catholics by every other modern standard. In his appointment of Bishops, JP II will probably prove one of the most disastrous Popes of all times as he is the main responsible for the appointment of an entire generation of bad shepherds, who have almost completely given away Catholicism and will now continue to afflict the Church for a couple of decades to come.
A further problems of JP II’s pontificate is, in my eyes, the stubborn refusal to deal in an exemplary manner with people clearly responsible for grave misconduct. Cardinal Law’s treatment, or Cardinal Groer’s, are in my eyes great stains on his pontificate as they show an attitude towards grave problems by which the desire to avoid scandal and public admission of fault comes before the desire to send clear signals as to how the Church is led and what behaviour is expected from the men at the top.
And then there’s the media orgy. JP II’s pontificate can be remembered as the age of the dumbing down of everything Catholic, the search for popularity at all costs, the media circus, the desire to sink towards common people aspirations and conveniences instead of drawing them to aspire higher to Christ. From the unspeakable rock concerts (in which Catholicism had to witness the head of Catholicism being publicly scolded by rock singers; Pope Pius XII must have cried from Heaven), to the interconfessional/ecumenical/heretical events in Assisi, Fatima and elsewhere, to the in itself obviously heretical kissing of the Koran, to the relentless seeking for TV time in his pursuit to travel in the furthest corners of the globe whilst Vatican work was clearly neglected (cue the inefficiency and indecisiveness in tackling the problems of the Church, like the evident issue of rampant homosexuality in the seminaries), John Paul II’s years have diluted and banalised the Catholic message. The most dramatic example of this sad development was seen in his last days, with a huge media happening and a vast attention from a mass of individuals obviously not caring in the least for Catholicism and merely attracted by the next media-pumped collective hysteria in purest Lady Diana style. When he died, JP II had successfully transformed himself in the Che Guevara of our times, a man whose face is on millions of t-shirts carried by people who don’t even know who he was and what he wanted, but find the projected image someway cool. In the meantime, a generation of Catholics was raised without even the basis of proper Catholic instruction but hey, there were 500,000 people when he went out of the aeroplane so we are doing fine.
One of the least palatable aspects of this attitude was the late Pope’s desire to please the masses by sending ambiguous messages which, whilst not openly contradicting the Church’s teaching, were meant to give them a varnish of political correctness and make their distorted perception popular when the real ones clearly aren’t. He formally abolished the capital punishment in the Vatican, but conveniently forgot to remind the faithful that the legitimacy of capital punishment is integral part of Catholic doctrine and as such not modifiable and not negotiable. He asked for forgiveness for the atrocities committed during the Crusades, but conveniently forgot to remind the faithful of the saintliness of their cause and of the glorious page represented by the Crusades themselves. He was personally contrary to every conflict happening in his time, but conveniently forgot to remind the faithful that the Doctrine of War is also integral part of Catholic teaching. As a result of this, Pope John Paul was vastly perceived - particularly by poorly instructed Catholics, let alone by non-catholics – as a white-clothed pacifist opposed to capital punishment and ashamed for the Crusades. I am not aware of any effort he made to counter this widespread popular impression and no, this is not good.
Allow me here to also remind my readers of the Lefebvre affair. From the information I have found and read, it seems to me that a clash of egos (it happens among the saintliest men; it’s human nature) played a more than secondary role in the events but that at the root of the mess was JP II’s refusal to understand when things have gone too far and it is time to stop being stubborn and to start being reasonable. Hand on heart, I thank God for Lefebvre’s courage and determination on that occasion. To use an admittedly strong image, when the father is drunk the son who refuses to obey him is not going against the family and his father’s authority, but respecting and upholding them and the values they represent. The SSPX’s affair is, if you ask me, just another of the many avoidable blunders of John Paul II’s pontificate.
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.
A saintly man is not necessarily a good Pope and a good Pope is not necessarily a saintly man. Much as we would like to see both qualities together, this is by far not always the case.
When we are blessed with a saintly Pope, I can’t see why we shouldn’t – whatever the shortcomings of his Pontificate – draw strength and inspiration from his saintliness.
Blessed John Paul II, pray for us.