This story is just too much for me to handle. How far back into the dim recesses of Catholicism is too far back?
John Paul II's Blood To Be Relic In Polish Church
MONIKA SCISLOWSKA 01/17/11 09:44 AM
WARSAW, Poland — A vial containing blood drawn from Pope John Paul II shortly before he died will be installed as a relic in a Polish church soon after his beatification later this year, an official said Monday.
Piotr Sionko, the spokesman for the John Paul II Center, said the vial will be encased in crystal and built into the altar of a church in the southern city of Krakow that is opening in May.
The exact date of the opening is not yet known, but it should be shortly after John Paul's beatification at the Vatican on May 1.
Sionko said the idea came from Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the archbishop of Krakow and the longtime friend and secretary of the late Polish-born pontiff. The blood was drawn for medical tests at Rome's Gemelli Polyclinic shortly before John Paul's death on April 2, 2005, and is now in Dziwisz's possession, he said.
"It was the cardinal's proposal," Sionko said. "He is of the opinion that this is the most precious relic of John Paul II and should be the focal point of the church." (What ever happened to the body and blood of Jesus? I thought those were the focal points.)
The church in the Lagiewniki district is part of a center that will be devoted to cultivating the memory and the teaching of the late pope – who was born Karol Wojtyla in Wadowice, southern Poland, and spent decades in Krakow.
Many Catholics in the world are rejoicing over Pope Benedict XVI's announcement last week that he will beatify John Paul on May 1. Beatification is the last major step before possible sainthood.
The idea of displaying the pope's relics has met with some reservations, even inside the Catholic Church.
"The tradition of relics comes from medieval practices of teaching the Bible through images and symbols," said the Rev. Krzysztof Madel, a Jesuit priest in Nowy Sacz who has publicly questioned the usefulness of displaying John Paul's blood. "But in today's rationalized world the message should rather come through teaching about someone's life." (Rumor has it there was also money in that relic 'business'. Maybe that hasn't changed.)
After John Paul's death, some Polish officials said they hoped John Paul's heart would be removed from his body and returned to his homeland for burial. However, church officials dismissed any possibility of dismembering the body, saying the age had passed for that practice.
Dziwisz said Friday that he has always been against dividing of the body, but that "relics have always existed and will always exist." (He may be against dividing the body, but not recovering some souvenir blood samples.)
It sure does look like Cardinal Dziwisz is going to play his connection with JPII for all it's worth. I am seriously at a loss for words because I can not comprehend this story. Contrary to Vatican assertions, the age has not passed for the practice of enshrining relics, just dividing up body parts. To be honest, I have a hard time reconciling the theology of Benedict with this kind of thing, but then maybe I'm just plain wrong. It could be the thing to do if the Vatican is hell bent on promoting the kind of cultic Catholicism with which JPII surrounded himself. It's not like this relic business wouldn't appeal to the followers of St Escriva, the not so saintly Maciel, and the guitar wielding song singing Neo Cats.
According to NCR's Jason Berry, Cardinal Dziwisz did all right off those cultic personalities, so why not continue the trend with the biggest cult personality of them all. If he plays his personal JPII relics right, why he could become a cult personality himself. He's already parlayed his relationship with JPII into an international best selling book--a book that made no mention of the hefty 'donations' he received from lay followers of the Legion or Maciel himself. Makes me wonder what more our esteemed leadership could possibly come up with next.
There are time it's embarrassing to claim any connection with Catholicism in the twenty first century and this is one of those times.