Commonweal has a discussion of the Vatican’s decision to place Pius XII and John Paul II on the path to canonization.


I share the concerns. Canonization is supposed to provide a role model for Catholics to follow, but how can you imitate even a good pope? For centuries almost all saints have been priests and religious, but only a vanishingly small percentage of Catholics live in those states of life.


Canonization, especially of popes, has become another exercise in clericalism, of which the Church needs far less, not more. It is the ultimate career step.


How can Pius XII’s actions during World War II be judged until the archives are opened? From my tiny bit of research around the fringes, I think he will probably come out OK – he did what little he could to save lives. He made mistakes in dealing with Hitler (who didn’t?), but Pius was not in any way sympathetic to Nazism. What he did not do, and it is a serious matter, was ac against Catholic clerics who were sympathetic to Nazism (see my case study). Pius was a good man in horrifying times. He did better than Allied leaders who turned Jews away. Whether he was heroic – only  full study of the documents from 1939 to 1945 might show that, and those are not yet available.


John Paul II, for all his virtues, was a lousy judge of character. His so-called priest friends in the chancery in Cracow betrayed him to the secret police. John Paul II recommended the abuser Maciel as a guide to youth. John Paul II refused personal appeals from a cardinal to make a statement about an abuser. Should a person whose work in the Church is administration and failed so badly in key issues be canonized?

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