Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Roman Circus Starring JPII Is In The Works For 2011

Cardinal Law at the first act of the JPII Sainthood Circus.  Although Law is not mentioned in this post, he does get the photo as he is a major problem for many American Catholics when it comes to JPII's handling of the American abuse crisis.

The following edited article from NCR's Tom Fox asks an interesting question.  Why would the Vatican put John Paul II on the path to Beatification in 2011 when there are so many questions about JPII"s handling of the sexual abuse crisis, and Marciel Macial in particular.

2011: Year of Pope John Paul II?

Maybe some missed the irony in the juxtaposition of two stories on the NCR web site in the past few days.

One was written by Jason Berry about the striking failings of Pope John Paul II in his dealings with the Legionaires and his blindness in the face of the largest crisis to hit the church in centuries – the clergy sex abuse crisis and episcopal cover-up.

The other, a report written by John Allen that states that Vatican efforts will be made this year to beatify Pope John Paul II.

This is what Jason Berry wrote:

The story of the Legion of Christ and Maciel will continue to unfold in 2011. Interwoven into this story, however, has been a larger one, the story of the way the highest Catholic authorities entrusted to run the church reacted to the Maciel scandal, what decisions they made and what these decisions say about their own views of church and its mission. It helps, then, to stand back and answer a few basic questions: Why did this scandal happen? How could John Paul II, a pope who showed brilliant moral vision in the face of Soviet communism, ignore the pedophilia allegations that trailed Maciel for decades? Why did he continue praising Maciel for six years after ex-Legionaries filed a 1998 canonical case with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger? How could Maciel's supporters, especially in the United States, so easily dismiss the testimony of so many credible accusers? Considering the order's strange history that keeps coming to light, is Benedict's decision to reform the Legion realistic?

While the question for Benedict is both immediate and risky, there is probably more at stake, depending on how those questions are answered, for the late John Paul and his legacy. How the story evolves and who controls the narrative could greatly influence whether John Paul continues to be viewed purely in heroic terms or as someone whose papacy was tainted by a scandal that came to light just five years after his election, but that he acknowledged only in the late days of his reign (emphasis added).

This is what John Allen wrote:

Benedict XVI signed a decree of “heroic virtue” for John Paul II in December 2009, a document which asserts that the late pope lived a holy life and allows him to be referred to as “venerable.” If the beatification takes place in 2011, it would mean that the late pope will become “Blessed John Paul II.” One additional miracle would be necessary prior to canonization, the formal act of declaring John Paul II a saint.

If the beatification does indeed take place in 2011, some observers believe that the October date may be the most plausible, given the logistical challenges of organizing what is likely to be the most massive public gathering in Rome since the events following the death of John Paul II in 2005.

So is there no linkage here? With little doubt, the John Paul II episcopal appointees, led by those blooming in clerical red and now positioned in key places in Rome today, have been pushing the canonization of their mentor and patron for some time, in fact almost from the day of his death. At the same time, there is a small but growing countervailing wind gaining strength as more questions surface and play around the edges of the canonization process, including questions raised about episcopal corruption within the Vatican during Pope John Paul II's watch......

....Michael Sean Winters at our sister blog site, "Distinctly Catholic," does not mince words. He calls it "madness."
He writes:

This is madness. After years of being frustrated at the slow pace with which the Vatican embraces change, in this one instance where haste could spell disaster, they appear to be rushing. As Jason Berry has demonstrated time and again, it remains an open question as to how Pope John Paul II dealt with the clergy sex abuse crisis and while no one has raised charges of personal corruption against him, those charges have been leveled against his top aides. Documents pertaining to such corruption as may exist could be in a courtroom near you any day if the Vatican continues to lose its law suits. It would be a shock to the very idea of beatification if, shortly after Pope John Paul II was beatified, especially damning evidence of corruption close to the papal throne emerged......


I don't think there is much doubt that there was corruption close to the papal throne, and it involves far more than Maciel and abusive priests.  One of JPII's very first acts as Pope was to take over personal control of the Vatican Bank and with in four years the Banco Ambrosio scandal erupted. In some respects the Vatican Bank is the never ending scandal as it's once again being questioned about money laundering and dubious accounting practices. 

Cardinal Sodano, who was implicated by Jason Berry for taking Legion bribes was also JPII's Secretary of State and he was additionally implicated in the Follieri scandal which hit the States in 2006. Raffaelo Follieri was Sodano's nephew and while there is no direct evidence linking Cardinal Sodano with his nephew's property schemes, there is plenty of evidence Follieri freely used his uncle's name to further those schemes. Neither JPII nor Benedict has done anything about the allegations swirling around Sodano.  In fact Benedict went so far as to publically censure Cardinal Schoborn for his honest remarks about Sodano and his interference in the Cardinal Groer case--another distasteful skeleton in both JPII's and Benedict's closet.  I can't help but wonder why Sodano has been allowed such a free rein in both these papacies.

There is enough smoke around the Papacy of JPII to justify moving slowly on any canonization attempt.  After all John XXIII has been on a very slow track for sixty years.  Where as JPII can rightly be given kudos for his influence as world changing leader--at least with regards to communism, John XXIII can be given the same kind of kudos for being a world changing leader in Catholicism itself.  That I suspect is the driving force behind the bull dozers pushing for JPII's canonization.  Some people just can't doze over John XXIII's theological vision fast enough, and two of those dozer drivers were and are JPII and Benedict.

The Canonization of JPII is probably critical to historically legitimizing his campaign to 'reform the reform', just as not canonizing John XXIII serves the same purpose from the negative end of things. It's all about symbol and selective substance.  I'm sure we'll hear and read reams and reams about JPII's personal piety and self flagellation while hearing virtually nothing about the corrupt individuals with which he surrounded himself or the corruption they engendered or the special friends JPII made who used their access to the papacy for their own agendas.  We'll see very little done about the abuses in the Legion and nary a peep about it's global finances while groups like Communion and Liberation and the Neo Cats will continue to be extolled for their religious orthodoxy and theological vision and when the date comes for JPII's beatification St Peter's square will be filled with 'millions' of these faithful Catholics.

So although I agree with Michael Sean Winters that this move is 'madness', I also think the madness will roll right through to the finish line.  In the meantime Catholic Christians are leaving by the thousands while the 'real' Roman Catholics will have one more Roman Circus to celebrate.


  1. John XXIII has been beatified, but with the poisonous fillip of a beatification of Pius IX (acclaimed by JP2 as a Great Pope) as well. Yes, beatifying JP2 is a way of legitimating the restorationist project in which Ratzinger was his closest collaborator, just as making Pius X a Saint legitimized the anti-Modernist crackdown. On a timeline of Spanish Church history in Malaga Cathedral I noticed the name of Maciel given prominence along with Escriva (now a Saint); JP2 had Maciel's mother made a Saint in response to criticisms of her son. Canonization has become a racket.

  2. I agree, canonization has become something of a political racket, but it sure makes money for the Vatican when the politics are of the approved variety.

  3. Canonization has evolved into a racket, pure and simple. As for the miracles involved, who is to say? Many times it seems, the recipient of a miracle was cured by medical rather than supernatural means. Or a cancer went into remission for unknown reasons and is called a miraculous cure.
    One of the most manipulative canonizations must be that of St. Maria Goretti. The church needed a modern Martyr of Purity and she fit the bill. The story was that she was stabbed to death by an evil porn addict, rather then be raped by him. There is another story, that she was sexually active with this creep, one day she was not in the mood, so he stabbed her to death.
    Perhaps the Devil's Advocate took a day off when that alternate version came to light. Or perhaps he was strongly urged to do so.

  4. To Translynx -

    I have no doubt that Maria Goretti fought off her attacker. I've often wondered if the attack was an attempt at forced marriage; who else would marry a "despoiled" woman except her rapist? The major question in my mind is whether the Vatican would have canonized Maria if she had not been succesful in fighting off her attacker. Somehow I doubt it. A dead virgin can be a saint, but not a rape victim!

  5. Yes, I think we will have St. John Paul the Great. This man was a great Charismatic leader! He successfully lead the RCC toward the 13th century. Other than his natural leadership, he was a great enabler of sexual abuse and one of the Church's great misogynist, but it will still be a popular choice that will bring the Vatican lots of $$$$.

    What will history eventually say? It is a big black eye! Oh, well we have the founder of Opes Dei canonized, we’re on a roll.

  6. Somehow, I don't think Jason Berry's forthcoming book, "Render Unto Rome" will be enough to slow down the race to canonize JP2, nor will it slow down the exodus of Catholics from the Church.

  7. Personally, I think that any canonization of JPII will simply stamp the institutional RCC as being nothing more than another personality cult. They started with the fast track to canonization for Mother Theresa and this one would simply seal the deal IMHO.

    I just don't understand this need of people to turn individual human beings into celebrities, for any reason. Doesn't matter if it is Lindsay Lohan, Prince William and Catherine Middleton or JPII. It seems to me the Church in this matter has decided to emulate the worst parts of secular society. Rather than be the leading light.

  8. Great comments again. Trans, I was thinking about the miracle thing last night. How does one rule out the placebo effect and rule in the miracle effect? It seems to me this would be a really difficult problem in autoimmune diseases.

    The one thing JPII did which destroyed the process, at least for me, was to do away with the position of the Devil's Advocate. Perhaps he knew he would be a beneficiary of the move. :)

    I haven't heard either of these stories about Maria Goretti. Will have to do some research. I always did think her story was a modern remake of the St Agnes story, which brings up another question. Has the Church ever canonized a female rape victim?

    Veronica you make a good point about the need for 'celebrities'. The nice thing about making celebrities of dead people is they won't embarrass you by having to go into rehab. Disney Inc has probably realized it was way better off making celebrities of cartoon characters.

  9. Here is another miracle tale, very sad. I don't recall her name, she was about my age, and known as Miracle Girl. She was very small and dying. Someone pinned a relic of St. Elizabeth Seton to her clothing. Instead of dying, she began coming back, and was declared cured by miraculous means.
    Now, Miracle Girl's family was financially unstable and occasionally had to go on welfare. But Miracle Girl got away with a lot of stuff I could never do. For instance, she failed the Catholic high school entrance exam, but had to be admitted anyway, because she was Miracle Girl. So it was said.
    Instead of becoming a nun, Miracle Girl married and had children. So far, so good.
    One Easter Sunday, her teen son was so bored with the whole thing, he was prowling around in his car, as Chuck Berry said, with no particular place to go. He saw a pretty teen girl, thought she was alone, and shouted an obscenity at her. Wrong! Her boyfriend heard it. They fought. Miracle Girl's son was killed.
    What a bitter ending to a story that was so sugar-coated.

  10. Colleen,
    In many scientific studies of drugs for ailments all the way from depression to arthritis the placebo rate has been found to be 30 + %. While I do believe in miracles, I have seen even in my own life unexpected remissions of diseases such as cancer. So the idea of a fast track in which miracles are used to establish proof of anything is dubious at best.

  11. THe placebo effect has always fascinated me Dennis. I just did some more research and there is still no decent studies attempting to explain the effect, which when you think about it is somewhat silly given it's effect in medicine and psychiatry. I mean when drugs have to show a significant level of improvement above the placebo effect you would think someone somewhere would be highly interested in how that placebo thing actually works. I suppose the problem in you can't charge money for healing interventions due to the placebo effect.