Sardath said in the comments:
This is a man who survived the Nazi genocide against the Poles, out-maneuvered the Soviets, and utterly crushed liberation theology; and yet we are to believe that he had no idea what he was doing when he signed false bank documents, had no idea that bishops and priests in Latin American were giving aid and comfort to state terrorism, and had no idea what Law, Groer, and Maciel had been up to all those years?
The “santo subito” people can’t have it both ways. If JP2 really was the intellectual and spiritual titan that he pretended to be, then he must have had the capacity to know and understand what his own people were up to. If he knew and did nothing, he was an accomplice in their crimes; if he could have known but chose not to, then he was criminally negligent, which is almost as bad. Either way, they have no business putting him up for sainthood, because he doesn’t even remotely qualify.
There’s also a big problem with some of the theological positions that Ratzinger staked out on these issues while he was head of the CDF, including the claim that while the pope may not be infallible in his disciplinary decisions, those decisions are nevertheless “not without divine assistance” and therefore “call for the adherence of the faithful.” So if JP2 was not without divine assistance in the way he ran his shop, why has everything come to ruin? What sort of saint is it who holds the position of “Vicar of Christ on earth” but somehow consistently fails to avail himself of the divine assistance which, we are assured, was always available to him if he only asked for it?
And now Ratzinger is pope himself, and so is also presumably not without divine assistance in the decisions he makes–and yet he is not only rushing headlong toward a disastrous premature canonization of his predecessor, but has continued to surround himself with the same people who, we are now being told, wrecked the papacy of JP2 with their lies and corruption. We have been told that it was Ratzinger who tried and tried to clean up the corruption around JP2, but was checkmated at every turn by the evil Sodano. So what is his excuse now? He of all people must know what Sodano and the others were up to, and he of all people has the power to send them packing. Why has he not done so?
John Paul’s refusal to act was inexplicable. Benedict’s is explicable but discouraging.
I am of course an outside observer, but even Cardinal Schönborn, who pleaded with John Paul to make a statement about Groër and to stem the resignations for the Austrian Church, was baffled by John Paul’s refusal even to say anything.
I repeat. Cardinal Schönborn read my book Sacrilege, and he said that in the case which he was familiar, that of his predecessor Cardinal Groër, things were worse than I knew. Groër had made strongly homoerotic gestures to almost every student he had come into contact with over the years; Groër stopped short of penetration, but that was the only thing he didn’t do.
John Paul had appointed Groër archbishop of Vienna over the objections of the Austrian episcopate, because Groër preached Fatima. Even after Groër left Vienna and the scandal was in full bloom, John Paul continued to favor him. Schönborn was in Rome for the consistory in which he was made a Cardinal. Without telling Schönborn, John Paul had invited Groër to Rome and was receiving him socially. When Schönborn was informed of this at a news conference, he uttered some undiplomatic words about the situation.
Almost the entire Austrian episcopate, including Schönborn, the writer of the Catechism, publicly announced they were sure Groër was guilty. The numerous victims said Groër was guilty. Why didn’t John Paul believe them or at least order a thorough investigation. John Paul not only did not order an investigation of Maciel; he allowed Sodano to thwart Ratzinger’s attempt to get at the truth.
Benedict apparently has decided that ridding the Church of abusers is enough; he thinks he does not have to change the culture among the hierarchy that allowed the abuse to go on.
But once Benedict is gone, a new pope may not have the same priorities. He may think that sexual abuse is a minor problem compared to poverty, the conflict with Islam, secularization, and the other difficulties Christianity faces. The bishops can then return to (or continue in) their old ways in countries that do not have the vigorous tort system that the United States has.
John Paul thought the Church could flourish with PR – and Benedict, by canonizing him, is continuing the policy. Cleaning the Augean stables of the corrupt clergy would be painful, and many of the laity would oppose it, but a church that cultivates only the appearance of holiness without the reality is preparing itself for a crisis as big as the Reformation. Or even worse, no Reformation. Just corrupt and lax mediocrity that narcissistically calls itself holiness. If men turn away from Christianity because it is too austere and other-worldly, it is one thing; but if they turn away because it falls beneath the standards of common decency and honesty, that is another.
Criminal negligence, depraved indifference, narcissism. All of these terms characterize the way in which the RC hierarchy engage in leadership. Like teenagers who have, through lack of attention and judgment, burned the house down, the hierarchs are hoping that it will all go away so that they can do what they have always done. I don’t think that’s going to happen this time.
If men turn away from Christianity because it is too austere and other-worldly…
Leon, Christianity isn’t supposed to be “austere and other-worldly,” at least as Catholics view those words. Christianity is the ultimately accessible religion; all — from the richest merchant to the lowest slave — can embrace Christ’s atoning, redemptive sacrifice as his own and receive adoption (as it were) into God’s family. Don’t forget that the Gnostics promoted themselves as “austere and other-worldly.”
If your interpretation of Sardath’s comments is correct, then several things follow:
1. JPII not only was willing but also insisted on putting his own theological and geopolitical agenda ahead of the Church. If that was a fundamental part of his makeup, then his views concerning Groer, Islam and capital punishment *and* his opposition to Communism have to be seen in such a light.
2. JPII’s inaction concerning clerical sex abuse, especially of children, renders his whole “Theology Of The Body” problematic, to say the least. How can somebody have such an apparently holy view of sex yet do nothing when people under his authority perform what anybody can see as the most perverse sexual acts?
Of course, perhaps his esoteric language and thinking could be a camouflage for a lack of genuine depth. Just a thought.
Father Michael Koening
Well said Mr. Poodles.
Since we were taught to believe that even God the Father was willing to sacrifice his only Son so that we could all be saved, doesn’t it then follow that Pope John Paul II ( and all of his predecessors, for that matter) were willing to sacrifice the children ( and their mothers, fathers and families ) for “the good of the church” without whose priests none of us could get to heaven?
Augusta, the analogy you pose holds no water. First, God’s sacrifice of His Son was *not* to protect His reputation but to ensure that humanity could be redeemed from the awful (and deserved) punishment it faced for its sin. Christ died because, according to God’s demands as reflected in the Mosaic Law, only the blood of a perfect sacrifice could satisfy God’s legitimate demand for justice. That’s why John the Baptist referred to Christ as “the Lamb of God” and St. Paul referred to Him as “our Pascal (i.e., Passover) sacrifice.”
If Catholic leaders actually embraced the analogy that you suggest, Augusta, then they would be guilty of the most heinous, blasphemous, evil thinking. Sacrificing the innocent for the greater institutional good is reminiscent of Marxism and Nazism. It disregards the fact that each individual bears the divine image. It also effectively worships the priesthood; we don’t need any human priests to have fellowship with God, if we have embraced Christ’s atoning sacrifice as our own. We have a Heavenly High Priest Who intercedes for us constantly, and we have the Holy Spirit to guide us as our Companion and Advocate.
Joseph, Catholic leaders did exactly that: they embraced sacrificing the innocent for what they thought was the good of the Church. It is precisely this evil thinking that got us into this mess.