This lengthy article, published by Michael Matt of The Remnant, lays out the case for a delay in the cause of beatification of the late Pope John Paul II. One needn’t agree with all of these objections to note that there are indeed several troubling aspects of the late pontificate that may give one pause. Hurrying (as compared to the normal process traditionally followed in the Church) this declaration to a world that does not understand the difference between beatification and canonization, nor that the Church’s infallibility is only invoked upon the latter, is a question of prudential judgement.

Before you get too excited, read the article. I would be interested to read your respectful take, pro or con, about the piece. Here is the introduction, which states the question:

A Statement of Reservations Concerning the Impending Beatification of Pope John Paul II

The impending beatification of Pope John Paul II on May 1, 2011 has aroused serious concern among not a few Catholics around the world, who are concerned about the condition of the Church and the scandals that have afflicted her in recent years—scandals that prompted the future Benedict XVI to exclaim on Good Friday 2005: “How much filth there is in the Church, even among those who, in the priesthood, should belong entirely to Him.” We give voice to our own concern in this public way in keeping with the law of the Church, which provides:

In accord with the knowledge, competence and preeminence which they possess, the Christian faithful have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard for the integrity of faith and morals and reverence towards their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons. [CIC (1983), Can. 212, § 3.]

We are compelled by what we believe in conscience to be the common good of the Church to express our reservations concerning this beatification. We do so on the following grounds, among others that could be brought forth.

The Real Question

We stress at the outset that we do not present these considerations as an argument against the personal piety or integrity of John Paul II, which ought to be presumed. The question is not personal piety or integrity as such, but rather whether there is, objectively speaking, a basis for the claim that John Paul exhibited such heroic virtue in the exercise of his exalted office as Pope that he should be placed immediately on the road to sainthood as a Pope to be emulated by all his successors.

The Church has always recognized that the matter of heroic virtue involved in a beatification is inextricably bound up with whether the candidate performed heroically the duties of his station in life. As Pope Benedict XIV (1675-1758) explained in his teaching on beatification, the heroic performance of duties involves acts so difficult they are “above the common strength of man,” are “accomplished promptly, easily,” “with holy joy” and “quite frequently, when the occasion to do so presents itself.” [Cf. De servorum Dei beatificatione, Bk. III, chap. 21 in Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, The Three Ages of Interior Life, Vol. 2, p. 443].

Suppose the father of a large family were a candidate for beatification. One would hardly expect his cause to advance if it were the case that, while pious, he consistently failed to discipline and properly form his children, who habitually disobeyed him and fomented disorder in the home, even openly opposing the Faith while living under his roof; or if, while attentive to his prayers and spiritual duties, he neglected the industrious support of his family and allowed his household to fall into disarray.

When the candidate for beatification is a Pope—the Holy Father of the universal Church—the question is not simply his personal piety and holiness, but also his care of the vast household of the Faith that God has entrusted to him, for which purpose God grants the Pope extraordinary graces of state. This is the real question: Did John Paul II perform heroically his duties as Supreme Pontiff in the manner of the sainted predecessors we will mention here: opposing error, swiftly and courageously defending the flock from the ravening wolves who spread it, and protecting the integrity of the Church’s doctrine and sacred worship? We fear that under the circumstances surrounding this “fast track” beatification the real question has not received the careful and unhurried consideration it deserves.

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