Posts Tagged “beatification”

Pope Francis recognized two of his most famous papal predecessors in a ceremony St. Peter’s Square in Rome. Andreas Solaro/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesIt’s been coming for months now. In office only just over a year, Pope Francis … with his retired direct predecessor Benedict XVI on hand … today canonized two of the most famous popes of the twentieth century, if not of all time: John XXIII and John Paul II. The New York Times reports on this canonization rite and some of its ramifications (WebCite cached article):

Pope Francis made history on Sunday, elevating to sainthood John XXIII and John Paul II, two of his most famous papal predecessors, in a ceremony bearing themes of hope and reconciliation for the world’s one billion Roman Catholics.…

Francis, who made the decision to hold the joint canonization, portrayed the two former popes as “men of courage” who shared a place in history.…

Never before had two popes been canonized at the same time, and the pairing attracted large, joyous crowds tramping through Rome, with many people waving flags or banners. Francis declared the two men saints shortly after the Mass began, a pronouncement greeted with rising applause from the square and followed by the presentation of relics linked to the two new saints.…

Notable among the cardinals and political leaders seated near the outdoor altar was Benedict XVI, the former pope who has remained largely out of the public eye since his historic resignation last year. His decision to step down led to the papal election of Francis.

As the Times explains, the Vatican has been veering away from the (rather obvious) appearances evoked by this unprecedented event:

In the days before the ceremony, however, Vatican officials had sought to dispel the political subtext of the event — that the two former popes are icons to different constituencies within the church, and that by canonizing them together, Francis was making a political statement as well as a religious one.

John XXIII is a hero to many liberal Catholics for his Second Vatican Council of the early 1960s, which sought to open the church to the modern era. John Paul II is a hero to many conservative Catholics — not only for his anti-Communist heroism and personal charisma, but also because of his resistance to liberalizing elements of the church.

By pairing their canonizations, Francis sought to de-emphasize their differences, many analysts said, in the service of trying to reconcile divisions within the church and finding consensus as he prepared for the meetings, known as synods, centered on the theme of family.

I for one do not, for a single moment, buy into the idea that this couldn’t have been a way for Francis to appeal simultaneously to both the liberal/reformist and conservative/reactionary factions of his Church. Both factions were sure to be pleased by the elevation to sainthood of each of their most recognizable recent leaders. There’s just no way around it; the Vatican’s efforts to insist differently, are simply not credible.

A lot of ink has been spilt … and bits transmitted … concerning the unusual speed of John Paul’s canonization and the lack of two miracles to support John’s. For instance, Religion News Service asks why their canonizations were so speedy (cached):

Yet despite the vast popularity of the two popes, there is intense debate about whether these canonizations are nothing more than an elaborate public relations exercise — and whether they should be taking place at all.

John Paul II will hold the record for the fastest saint to be canonized in the history of the Catholic Church [sic]. John XXIII is even more controversial since Pope Francis approved his canonization with evidence of only one miracle — instead of the two normally required.

“It’s controversial among the saint makers at the Vatican, who consider themselves sticklers when it comes to the miracle requirement,” said longtime Vatican watcher John Thavis, author of “The Vatican Diaries.”

The article is incorrect when it says John Paul was canonized sooner after his death than any other saint (which is why I put a “sic” after that sentence above). Both St Anthony of Padua and St Peter of Verona, for example, were canonized much more quickly … each less than a year after their deaths, around 20 years apart during the 13th century. Despite this error, it’s true John Paul’s canonization is the quickest to have occurred in modern times. Moreover, consider as a comparison the protracted elevation of the Martyrs of Otranto: Killed in 1480, they were beatified just under 3 centuries later in 1771, and finally canonized almost 250 years after that, in 2013. Overall, their canonization took over 5 centuries to happen. The just-over-9-year span between John Paul’s death and canonization is a drop in the bucket, when viewed alongside that.

The Vatican and Church officials have, so far, defended these actions (i.e. John Paul’s quick elevation and John’s elevation without a second miracle) as proper within the boundaries of canon law and Church rules. For all I know, they may be correct about that. However, these moves are definitely unusual for a Church that’s known for not moving very fast on anything and for being fiercely legalistic about everything it does. To say otherwise is fucking laughable.

Photo credit: Andreas Solaro/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images, via the NY Times.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Two Popes Canonize Two Other Popes

John Paul II Monument in Borkowo Ko?cielneThe Vatican has been eager to get the late Pope John Paul II canonized as soon as possible. That process is amazingly protracted and cumbersome. It can take decades or even centuries for people to be sainted. For instance, the Catholic Church took almost 300 years just to beatify the Martyrs of Otranto, and over 500 years to make them saints. Yet, this same wizened and supposedly-deliberate group, as the CNN Belief Blog reports, is on the cusp of granting the same honor to their late associate: (WebCite cached article):

The Catholic Church is on the verge of declaring late Pope John Paul II a saint, a Vatican source familiar with the process told CNN on Tuesday.

The committee that considers candidates for sainthood voted Tuesday to credit the late pope with a second miracle, the source said, asking not to be named discussing internal Vatican deliberations.…

The Polish-born pope was fast-tracked to beatification when he died in 2005 [cached], and became “the blessed” John Paul II barely six years after his death — the fastest beatification in centuries.

“For an institution that typically thinks in centuries, this is remarkably quick,” said CNN Vatican analyst John Allen.

In fact, the phrase “record-breaking speed” leaps to mind, and not without reason, as CNN explains:

The record for the fastest canonization is [sic] modern times is St. Jose-Maria Escriva, the Spanish-born founder of Opus Dei, a Catholic order of laypeople and saints dedicated to finding God in daily life. Escriva was made a saint 27 years after his death.

John Paul could shatter that record.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to point out that Pope John Paul II had built up something of a “cult of personality” during is reign, and many of the hierarchs now in charge of the R.C. Church had been appointed by him, or had put them into position to move up into the hierarchy. They appear now to be clamoring to repay his favors posthumously.

It would be nice if they could instead find a way to devote more of their attention and energy to something other than a dead man. Figuring out how to deal constructively and candidly with the worldwide clerical child-abuse scandal that’s wracked their institution for more than a decade, would be one of those things.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Pope John Paul II Nearing Sainthood

IT07 2928 Pope John Paul II, Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli, AssisiContinuing its effort to divert attention to its dismal lack of action in the wake of the clerical child abuse scandal which has pummeled the Catholic Church periodically for many years now, Pope Benedict XVI beatified his predecessor, John Paul II, today, as CNN reports (WebCite cached article):

Catholic faithful from around the world poured into Rome on Sunday as the Catholic Church declares Pope John Paul II “blessed,” a step below sainthood.

There were cheers as Pope Benedict XVI personally beatified his predecessor, and a huge tapestry protrait [sic] of John Paul II was unveiled, showing him as the healthy, vigorous and relatively young man he was early in his papacy.

As I blogged some time ago, this beatification had been preceded by a great deal of salesmanship by the Vatican, which included Facebook and Youtube marketing campaigns. They worked very hard to turn this into something other than the routine affair that beatifications usually are (since beatification is merely another step on the road to the final destination of canonization or sainthood).

At any rate, it’s remarkable that the man who sat atop the Church while the “priestly pedophilia” scandal was brewing — and who was the architect of its policy of refusing to respond to it and refusing to do anything about it — is now “the Blessed John Paul II” and soon will become “Saint John Paul II.” It also comes almost exactly one year after the Vatican seized the priestly order known as the Legion of Christ, because of irregularities in how it was run and because its deceased founder had been discovered to be a sick, amoral degenerate (cached) operating under cover of the order. What makes this remarkable is that the Legion of Christ had been favored by John Paul, was heavily patronized and promoted by him, and even protected by him in the late ’90s and early ’00s when word of its degeneracy started leaking out.

One is forced to ask whether or not John Paul can possibly be thought of as a “blessed” or even “saintly” character, given these facts. The Vatican denies John Paul’s involvement in the corruption of the Legion of Christ; while it’s probably true that he didn’t know everything that order or its founder were up to, it’s still the case that he worked to hinder investigations into it, meaning that he didn’t want them exposed. That’s hardly “saintly” behavior.

Photo credit: Templar1307.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Pope John Paul II Beatified

Der kränkliche Papst Johannes Paul II. am 22. September 2004What does a vast multinational institution do, when it finds itself in the throes of a pervasive, years-long global scandal which it cannot and will not deal with? Why, it diverts people’s attention to something other than the scandal!

Hence, the Roman Catholic Church is promoting the upcoming beatification of Pope John Paul II with an online advertising campaign, as reported by the Catholic News Agency (WebCite cached article):

With the help of Facebook and YouTube users, the Vatican hopes to create a broad audience for material on the life and teachings of the soon-to-be beatified Pope John Paul II.

The Vatican’s television center and Vatican Radio have teamed up with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications to produce two new webpages on YouTube and Facebook.

The Facebook page offers audio and video content to prepare “friends” and any other passersby for the beatification of the late-Pope on May 1, 2011.

I can’t help but note that, previously, the Vatican and its current leader, Pope Benedict XVI, hasn’t had much good to say about the Internet; for example, he warned young people from getting too wrapped up in it (cached). I guess Benedict suddenly finds the Internet is OK, but only if young people use it to celebrate the beatification of his predecessor?

I also can’t help but note that John Paul’s beatification will conveniently take place 20 days before evangelical “Bible scholar” Harold Camping says the Rapture will sweep the world clean of all its Christians. Whew!

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 3 Comments »

As though most Catholics … especially of the reactionary sort … don’t already view the late Pope John Paul II as a saint, it seems he’s on target for formal recognition as one. The (UK) Telegraph reports on his pending beatification:

The mayor of Rome, who would play a pivotal role in organizing the event, said the beatification of John Paul is expected to take place “at the latest” by 2010.

Speaking on a visit to Krakow, in the former Pope’s native Poland, Gianni Alemmano said: “These are internal decisions (for the Vatican) but it is expected to take place at the latest by next year.”

Vatican observers say the most likely date for the beatification would be April next year, on the fifth anniversary of the popular Pontiff’s death.

The article mentions that beatification is the next step for John Paul II in his rise to sainthood. It requires — among other things — a verified miracle associated with him.

In John Paul’s case, the miracle under consideration is said to have taken place when a French nun was cured of Parkinson’s disease.

And of course, we all know it’s not possible for a nun, or the Catholic hospitals that no doubt treated her, to be swayed to exaggerate her experience and her miraculous recovery. Oh no. That could never happen. (OK, enough sarcasm.) The Telegraph points out that John Paul II’s canonization case is being handled with what is — for the Vatican — unusual (if not unprecedented) speed:

The process leading to sainthood usually takes decades, but Pope Benedict XVI launched the beatification process for John Paul just two months after his predecessor’s death on April 5, 2005.

I suspect — but cannot prove — that the current Pope, Benedict XVI, would like to be able to canonize his mentor and guide, the man who essentially set him up as his successor, in the same way that John Paul II himself famously wanted to — and eventually did — canonize one of his own favorites, Mother Teresa. If this is the case — and again I don’t know it for sure, I can only guess it’s the case — then we have two Popes accelerating the canonization process to suit their own whims.

Hat tip: Holy Post blog (at Canada’s National Post)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on John Paul II On The Road To Sainthood