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Pope John Paul was a great pope – but that doesn’t mean he never made mistakes

His beatification is a declaration of his holiness, not his achievements

By on Thursday, 20 January 2011

John Paul II during a visit to Paris in 1980 (Photo: CNS)

John Paul II during a visit to Paris in 1980 (Photo: CNS)

The speed of Pope John Paul II’s beatification (as well as other, I suppose predictable, criticisms) have led to a wave of opposition to it which I have to admit I find deeply depressing, predictable or not. The late pope’s pontificate had a great deal to do with my own conversion: I didn’t cross the Tiber because I was all that impressed by the English Catholic bishops; I came for papal authority, out of a church which had no means of coming to a mind about what it believed about anything.
The late pope did more than any pope of the last century to defend and reassert beyond any doubt the stable and objective character of Catholic teaching – more even than Pius X with his great encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, since modernist incursions had become much more powerfully established during the pontificate of the unhappy Pope Paul than they had been in the early years of the century. Pope John Paul firmly re-established the fact that the Magisterium was given by God and not invented by theologians, after a period of utter doctrinal chaos. He saw off once and for all the so-called “alternative magisterium” of Küng, Schillebeekx and their ilk: and as a result he made it possible for hundreds of thousands of non-Catholics like myself, tired of the uncertainties of secularised versions of Christianity, to come into full communion with the Holy See. So I greeted news of his beatification with great joy: because of this great pope, I had been enabled at last to come home.
Opposition to the beatification of Pope John Paul comes from three main sources: from secular anti-Catholics; from “liberal” Catholics; and from Lefebvrist nutters (rude, I know: but even members of SSPX who are relatively sane have nevertheless to be seen as committed opponents of the late pope).
To take them in order. Secular anti-Catholic opposition may be exemplified by USA Today, which contemptuously characterised the process of canonisation as being a recognition, in the words of one Cathy Lynn Grossman, “that someone who has lived a life of exemplary holiness is now in heaven, whispering on humans’ behalf in the ear of a miracle-working God”: she drew her readers attention to We Are Church, summarising their objections approvingly: “Their case,” wrote Ms Grossman, “is that he failed to confront the abuse scandal, that he squashed the Liberation Theology movement, that he shut off discussion on gender equality and that he did not recognise… that use of condoms can be a moral choice for preventing the transmission of of HIV/Aids.” Her final sentence was set in bold, making clear enough her own personal view of all this religious mumbo-jumbo: “Do you pray to saints to take your cause to God? Or do you see miracles as great human accomplishments of science, strength or personal will?”
We Are Church, to look at their objections at greater length (since they are virtually identical with the secular objections, this will do as an elaboration of the anti-Catholic view as well), said this:

“It was John Paul II’s … need for hierarchical control that … lead [sic] to the constriction of theology with scarring impact on people’s lives. His attempt to discredit liberation theology left thousands working for liberation without the full theological and ecclesial support they deserved while suffering under brutal political regimes.
“Spiritual authoritarianism was also seen in John Paul II’s attempt to suppress discourse on gender equality which, in turn, deprived the Catholic world of the gifts women would bring to church leadership. His stance against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people places him in complicity with local churches and governments who continue to deny the civil and moral equality of LGBT persons. Additionally, his repeated denouncements of condom use complicated the moral choice of millions around the world attempting to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and promote sexual health.”

On top of that, says John L Allen, “…some Catholic liberals who saw John Paul II as overly conservative have suggested that his cause is being fast-tracked in order to score political points in internal Catholic debates”.
“Overly conservative,” however, is not what the Lefebvrists think he was. I quote just one of them briefly (this is from the copious vitriolic comments of one correspondent after my Monday blog): “Pope Benedict is bringing the Church into disrepute by beatifying a Pope who presided over the almost total collapse of the Church on his watch. Far from being a great pope, history will show him to have been one of the worst popes in the entire history of the Church.”
History, I believe, will show on the contrary that he was one of the greatest (incidentally, “on his watch”, membership of the Church worldwide grew from around 700 million to 1.2 billion: there was no collapse, despite the doctrinal chaos in Europe and America that he did so much to overcome). But achievements aren’t what a beatification is about. It doesn’t mean that someone never made mistakes. Pope John Paul clearly did (think of his trust in Cardinal Sodano and all that led to); though on any reasonable view his mistakes were surely greatly less significant than his massive achievements.
But Pope John Paul is being beatified because of his heroic sanctity, a sanctity so evident (especially to those close to him) that it led to a popular eruption of demands that he be canonised, not after a five- or ten-year waiting period, but immediately: “santo subito”, the banners demanded. The five-year waiting period to begin the Cause was waived on account of what the Congregation for the Causes of Saints described as the “imposing fame for holiness” enjoyed by John Paul II during his lifetime: in all other respects, the usual procedures ran their course.
I believe that he was a great as well as a holy man: but holiness is always more important. We can surely agree about that: and perhaps we should focus on it a little more.

  • Anonymous

    I believe that God is in the middle on most matters, and this is one of the best illustrations of that point I have ever seen. When a person is loathed by both far left and far right, it seems a good sign to me that he’s on the right track.

  • SS1

    Yes, he was a great Pope, and a good man. Manifestly motivated by a great love of the Lord and His Blessed Mother, he did his best to teach the Faith and confirm his brethren. He led a life of personal holiness, and gave a great example of how to “put out into the deep” and “be not afraid”. May he pray for us!

  • Jamie MacNab

    This blog hits some important nails on their heads.

  • RJ

    Thank you for saying that.

    Collapse of the Church? Here’s a report from Zenit in 2004:
    VATICAN CITY, APRIL 6, 2004 ( The drop in the number of priests in the West can overshadow the “boom” in vocations the Church is experiencing elsewhere in the world, says a Vatican official.

    In fact, during John Paul II’s pontificate the number of major seminarians has virtually doubled, the secretary of the Congregation for Clergy, Archbishop Csaba Ternyak, said when presenting to the press the Pope’s Holy Thursday Letter to Priests.

    In 1978, when John Paul II was elected, there were 63,882 major seminarians in the world. In 2001 there were 112,982.

    “Never in the history of the Church have we had so many seminarians studying philosophy and theology,” Archbishop Ternyak said.

    “What is beautiful is that these vocations are more stable than they were 30 years ago,” he said. “The percentage of seminarians who gave up this path was 9.09% at the beginning of the pontificate; while at present this percentage has decreased to 6.93%.”

  • Anonymous

    Dr Oddie – I don’t disagree with you on your conclusion – but sincerity and integrity demand that I feel compelled to disagree with you on your reasons.
    He was no doctrinal wunderkind who trounced modernism, relativism and progressivism ; rather he was a gauche existentialist and poet who , according to his heritage and background, stuck to specific age-old magisterial teaching; especially in the field of morality.
    But little more – so all the heresies , apostasies , heterodoxies, sacrileges etc – flourished!

    He was no Pius XI: We got no ‘Quagragesima Anno’ but rather a flimsy ‘solicitudio rei socialis’ and had to wait for his successor’s ‘Caritas in Veritate’.

    The New Catechism is an embarassment, the new Code of Canon law still causes many unnecessary problems, His ‘Theology’ of the Body was pretty, inspiring , but intellectually lousy to say the least…Irrespective of the beautiful words and sentiments of evangelium vitae – his teaching on ‘ensoulment’ set the life movement back decades and tore the intellectual ground from under them; and if you’re going to say capital punishment is judicial murder and instead the only permissible recourse is to an immediate critical self-defensive ‘death penalty’ – you’ve got to provide adequate magisterial teaching for those expected to advocate, promote and defend it; not leave them hanging.
    If you’re going to denounce abortion as evil you can’t refuse to legislate or act against those catholic legislating politicians,clerics and religious leaders who conspire in the promotion of the culture of death.

    Discipline went out the window.

    The years for X,Y & Z were utterly unproductive – the decade of evangelisation was ignored.

    The west was allowed to go its own way under the principle of collegiality.

    The whitewash of the investigation into seminaries was not countered.

    The clerical abuse problems were not addressed until his hand was forced.

    Oecumenically and liturgically he allowed all manner of scandals, sacrileges and sacramental violations to occur under his watch. Yes he entered into dialogue in the vatican – yes he reached out to our separated brothers and sisters – but no directives or reprimands were issued to those who were flagrantly abusing this process.

    …and the worst of all: He constantly said and did one thing – while allowing his brother bishops and academics and religious orders and the professional laity to say and do the diammetrically opposite – with no disciplinary action or directives to counter it.
    It didn’t happen!

    Now he may have been a great man – a saintly man – a good man – and to some extent a good Pope in that he tried to hold the whole mess together while opposing extremists were trying to tear it to shreds – he held the line on his watch – and for that we should be grateful…and in many areas the rot was stopped…but irrespective of the extra 500,000,0000 members – across its western heartlands it vanished from tens of thousands of square miles…millions of children lost their heritage, their cultural identity, their Catholic community, their potential Catholic future….

    To deny the alienation, dispossession, disenfranchisement, dissolution, destruction occurred would be untrue and unjust.

    Now we can’t say he’s to blame.

    But it was his watch – He was the Keeper of the Keys.
    There was a responsibility – there was a cross – there was a mission – It’s God’s merciful judgment which will declare ‘well done true and faithful servant’…it’s our ongoing duty to pray for him.

    We never know the whole story – we have no idea what was averted, we have no idea how many hidden blessings or wonders or graces with which we’ve been bestowed because Karol Wojtyla became Pope

    But This Man:This Pope:This Saint – departed from us with His regrets.
    …as will we all.

  • cstrain

    I keep on hearing “the great” in his regard, but that he made “some” mistakes. Name one truly great thing that he accomplished!

    His reign was wrapped in scandal (sex, money, innovative license). He worshiped with pagans, which the liberals praise as touching and reaching out, but the result is as the Church has always warned: we’ve seen the biggest walkout by Catholics since the Arian Heresy. His reign was fraught with mistakes, he failed to stand firmly for Catholicism, and he is over-hyped as “great” because nobody can remember him doing anything truly “great”. And great people don’t just do a single great thing here or there – they live “great” 24-7.

  • RJ

    By the way, when I said “thank you for saying that”, I was addressing my comment to Dr Oddie

  • RJ

    He went round the world preaching Jesus Christ, leading from the front. That seems great to me.

  • Tpiatak

    An excellent piece.

  • Jack Regan

    I find it odd that JP2 is characterised as the Pope of the right and some sort of demon figure for the left. I hate the whole idea of ‘left’ and ‘right’ anyway. It is so limiting, and I actually think it stops people from forming their own minds and exploring issues for themselves. But anyway, that’s a tangent.

    Hideous as it may be, the whole left/ right thing is still a useful shorthand at times. So, let me offer this…

    roughly speaking, I think the Church is divided into four camps. There are what I call the ‘sensible’ right and left, and then there are the extreme right and left. The extremes both hate JP2, but I really think that the ‘sensibles equally like him.

    I don’t have as great an overview of the Church as I might like, but my own particular field – youth ministry – is one which is considered by many to be on the left of things. From my vantage point, it is clear that young people and youth ministers, almost to a man, absolutely adore JP2 and can’t wait for his beatification and eventual canonisation.

    If anything, I have seen more objections to the beatification (too fast, too fast etc) from the right rather than the left. But, as I say, I think the mainstream of the Church was by and large behind him.

  • Michaelq12345

    Thanks, I needed that.

  • Denise Johnson

    He will soon, deservedly, be called John Paul the Great

  • Mccormackcharlie

    Yes yes yes! I agree with all of it. It’s clear to anyone who has a clear understanding that he was one of the greats. A giant indeed. C McCormack.

  • Anonymous

    W. Oddie, you just cannot win this argument by insulting people like me again, (see previous thread) calling us “Lefebvrist nutters.” I suppose I should be flattered that you quoted me, albeit without naming me and calling my contribution “vitriolic.” Whatever you learnt from Pope John Paul II, it sure wasn’t Christian charity. Listen, if you don’t want me contributing to your blogs, you only have to say the word. I’m not into imposing myself, so just say the “G” word, and I’ll disappear from your blog faster than any of the heretics ever disappeared from the Church under Pope John Paul II.

    And, why are “Lefebvrists” “nutters”? All for the crime of attending the Traditional Latin Mass? (Which as a modern convert you can be excused for not fully appreciating – you’ll be quite at home in the protestantised novus ordo). However, the SSPX are very highly regarded by Pope Benedict, so, you’re treading a thin line by letting your hatred of them show.

    However, I’m not going to waste too much time casting any more pearls before you, W Oddie – I just popped in to say that you are in very good company. Like you, The Tablet is thrilled to bits about the beatification of this liberal pope

    And to say, too, that for you to compare JPII to Pius XII (or ANY recent pre-Vatican II pope) is ridiculous in the extreme. Just read the papal documents/encyclical letters of those truly great popes – they command, they instruct – they defend the Faith and they take no prisoners in so doing. The Faithful comply, obey or be gone. Couldn’t be clearer. So, please, JPII might have been a nice man and even well-meaning, but a great pope? He doesn’t come close.

    Pope John Paul II was no saint on this earth – his World Youth Day Masses alone were a massive scandal, with the Blessed Sacrament thrown on the ground and trampled underfoot and many other scandalous happenings on those occasions, reported by open mouthed secular journalists. I do hope that he has made it into heaven but I will have more charity, based on what I know of his life and his FAILURE to discipline the very heretics you claim he corrected, Kung & Company, to presume he’s in heaven and I’ll continue to pray for him as if he’s in Purgatory.

    He was NOT a great pope. He admitted himself that he failed to act as a pope should in the disciplining of dissenters, and that is the key role of a pope, to protect the flock against heretics. And as for this business of deciding who is “holy” – we’re not supposed to do that and at one time the Church adhered to its rigorous procedures to examine the lives of those with causes of canonisation in the pipeline. Never before, has the Church “fast-tracked” any alleged saint – it is making a mockery of the procedures and bringing the Church into disrepute.

    Here’s a sane voice in the midst of all the baloney.


  • Anonymous

    Thanks be to God Holy Church does not beatify the papacy. Where that so our record would appear abysmal. We do however beatify Popes. Not for their Pontificate but for their saintliness, humility and example to us on how to live Catholic lives. Whatever the mistakes during Pope John Paul’s papacy, it is for his own virtues that he will be beatified, and for this I give thanks to God.

  • Corderorene6141989

    Amen! Great article. I ask every day that JPII will pray for me.

  • W Oddie

    That’s the second time you have called him a “liberal” pope: you really think that is sane? Don’t answer that, for heavens sake.

  • Anonymous

    Like, The Tablet would be thrilled at the prospect of a “conservative” or (worse still) a “traditional” pope being beatified?

    Catch yourself on…

  • Kyriakos

    You are blessed with wisdom kathleensomuchtosay. That is, going to neither extremes. Isn’t it why it is said that virtue stands in the middle.

  • Auricularis

    “Lefebvrist nutters” – cheap shot. John Paul II certainly didn’t use this terminology.

    “He saw off once and for all the so-called “alternative magisterium” of Küng, Schillebeekx and their ilk…”

    Really? So why didn’t he excommunicate them like he did with Archbishop Lefebrve et al? Why all heavy handed with the SSPX and extremely tolerant to those who were really sowing mass confusion (and continue to do so) by their sermons and writings? It was in JP II’s pontificate, that the late Cardinal Edouard Gagnon said that the American Catholic church was more or less in schism with Rome. Sound like anyone seeing of an alternative magesterium?

    You see Mr. Oddie’s reasoning falls apart, when such examples are pointed out. Does a truly holy pope use one rule for one group of people and expect another group to tow a different set of standards? Would a truly holy pope associate with people like Fr. Marcial Marciel, despite rumours and suspicions being voiced to that pope himself on the dubious character of the latter? Does a holy pope tolerate the likes of Cardinal Sodano, running amok in the Vatican?

    Sorry to disappoint you but majority cries of “Santo Subito” should mean absolutely nothing, when it comes the process of beatification and canonisation. The church is not some democracy, dictated to by lobby groups with a vested interest. The beatification of John Paul II is most certainly a popularity vote – and one that would never have happened if the former beautification process was still in place.

  • Samuel

    How come you ultra liberals, which are as bad in Britain as they are here in the US, always look at the world in the negative? What he did that was great was to preach the Gospel of Christ to the entire world, not just by television and radio, as with his predecessors, but by actually visiting those continents and giving people hope. If you are asking us to prove what great thing he did you also should prove that it was Blessed John Paul II who caused the walkout. Many of those walkouts were due to a secular world and people not willing to know their faith. When he came to Denver for World Youth Day, he infused the youth bringing many youth back and that has grown during his pontificate and well after. He began a movement on the theology of the body. Perhaps, you are like a supervisor I had once who after reorganizing acquisition policy told me during my performance review, ‘oh that was your job anyway’. You may say those aren’t great but in God’s eyes they are. Remember too that it is foretold both in scripture and by Tradition there will be a great separation of people are Church. Secular forces want to change the Church for their own benefit so that we end up with a Transgender Papacy celebrating the holy sacrament of abortion.

  • Brother Rolf

    Is it not true that JP II could have prevented the molestation of hundreds of little children if he would have acted to stop it 20 years ago?

  • Padro4668

    Yes, indeed: kissing the Koran was a BIG mistake: he might as well have kissed the Bk of Mormon: allowing altar girls a disaster (though to tell the truth, he resisted for ten yrs and then his sickness enfeebled him on that issue), which I believe WILL be reversed (as it introduces sexuality into the sanctuary; failure to reverse communion in the hand and return to ad orientem worship. You mentioned Kueng, BUT HE FAILED TO EXCOMMUNICATE HIM! Even today he is a priest with faculties, just not a Catholic professor!
    And the BIG MISTAKE: FAILURE TO CONSECRATE RUSSIA BY NAME WITH ALL THE HIERARCHY TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY AS REQUESTED BY HER. This is simply a failure of offending Russians, as if Heaven didn’t take that into consideration when the request was made!

  • W Oddie

    No. The Tablet is not thrilled. The article you’re talking about isn’t the Tablet’s view at all: it’s an independent personal view by George Weigel, JPII’s biographer and friend. All print outlets from time to time publish opinion articles which don’t reflect their normal editorial policy (I did it myself). The Tablet was consistently and contemptuously hostile to PII throughout his reign. mostly through the writings of Peter Hebblethwaite. They are still critical of his legacy, as they are of the pontificate of the present Pope, though since the papal visit they have been more careful.

    Incidentally, calling you a nutter was out of order, and I apologise: you’re right, insuting people isn’t the way to conduct arguments of this sort. (All the same, you do it yourself, all the time: but let that pass. At least you haven’t described me as a liberal.)

  • Jamie MacNab

    Once again I am struck by some comments which criticize Pope John Paul for the things which he neglected to do. But, in view of his other achievements and of his character, does the criticism have to be so vehement? I am reminded of a parallel criticism from another context : Why, it was asked, didn’t Shakespeare write Paradise Lost? since he would have made a much better job of it. The answer, of course, is that he was doing other things instead.

    As I see it, John Paul, like all good leaders, saw that there were a number of matters to put right ; and, like all good leaders, he realized, or believed, that he could not solve them all, so he set himself certain aims for his lifetime. These he achieved.

    We may question his priorities ; but, as we do so, we must bear in mind his own understandings of the overall situation and his own knowledge of his limitations. Perhaps he really did know better than we where his own strengths and weaknesses were.

  • Anonymous

    I know exactly who George Weigel is, but the fact that his enthusiastic endorsement of PJPII’s beatification is their lead article, is significant. Remember when the SSPX excommunications were lifted? Did they publish an editorial or lead article by Bishop Fellay? Have they ever? Will they ever?

    There’s your answer. This is not an example of the “broadminded” (joke) Tablet at work. Weigel is reflecting their view, because although the Tablet criticised JPII for his prolife-type statements, they approve of his overall liberal, pro-Vatican II mentality. As the Weigel lead piece makes clear.

    I note your apologiy for insulting me immediately overtaken by another swipe. Two things. I try not to make personal remarks about an individual outside of an observation about their attitude to the Faith, because that is the issue and in the public domain. For example, I have no hesitation in calling Archbishop Conti an unbeliever, because he has publicly expressed his doubts about the existence of God and the afterlife (interview with Katie Grant, The Scotsman, Rome’s Quiet Radical, 15.1.03) But I wouldn’t call him a “nutter” or an “idiot” because that is irrelevant. The important thing is that, in his position, he ought at least to believe in God, and I have a right to say so as publicly as he has denied the Faith. That’s not name-calling – that is stating a fact. That others may think he’s a nutter or an idiot for living and dressing like a bishop when he doesn’t even believe in God, is another matter. I’ve never put anything like that in writing, nor will I.

    Anyway, don’t worry – I AM a bit of a nutter myself. Why else would I waste so much time repeating information that nobody is taking in? Nutter, idiot, you name it – that’s me.

    And I haven’t and won’t call you a liberal, W Oddie, because I believe, in all honesty, that you are a victim of this crisis; you have come into the Church in good faith and taken the instruction you were given, not realising that you were not being properly catechised. That’s why God sent me to help you!

    Ever so humbly yours,
    A.N. Utter.

  • Christina

    I’m not sure that the liberal/conservative label is useful here. Pope John-Paul II was a modernist, who exhibited all the marks of a modernist in his teaching and actions. Just when it seemed that he was heading in a conservative direction and ‘conservatives’ were thanking God for it, he would do a complete volte face, to the delight of the ‘liberals’. As Paulpriest so comprehensively pointed out, he ‘stuck to age-old magisterial teaching’, particularly in the moral sphere, and that sufficiently explains the hostility of ‘The Tablet’. However, in utterly failing to stamp his authority on the Church, in introducing scandalous novelties, in yielding to liberal pressures from within the Curia and elsewhere, he added to the chaos that has engulfed the Church, and may well persist for generations to come. In striding the world like the charismatic and consummate actor that he was, he was treated, in life and in death, like a modern popular celebrity, and the cries of ‘santo subito’, in such an atmosphere, should not be seen as they were in ages past.

    Nobody can doubt that, in his public sufferings and the private devotion to which so many testify, he achieved personal holiness in this life, but more than that is expected of the successor of St. Peter. May he rest in peace.

  • Anonymous

    “And as for this business of deciding who is ‘holy’ – we’re not suppose to do that….” The existence of a cult of popular devotion has been an important aspect of the discernment of a cause for canonisation from the Church’s earliest days; this is not some post-V2 “novelty”.

    “Never before, has the Church “fast-tracked” any alleged saint…” St Francis was canonised within a year of his death. Other pre-V2 examples abound.

  • Morah fullerton

    Pope John Paul 11 was indeed charasmatic, influential and i believe a great propeller of getting the message of God out to young people during his time of papacy. Maybe he did have some regrets towards the end, but except for those close to him, none of us really know what he was up against in trying to right the wrongs in the Church. I agree with Padro4668, Pope John Paul should have and could have CONSECRATED RUSSIA (BY NAME) TOGETHER AND IN UNION WITH ALL THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF THE WORLDTO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY as requested by Her in Fatima. Morah Fullerton

  • Anonymous

    I doubt very much if the martyrs who gave their life’s blood in defence of the Mass and the papacy would claim to be “in the middle”

  • Anonymous

    A Modernist is, by definition, “a liberal” – I’ve never met any sound, traditional Catholics who were Modernists, Christina, have you?

  • Anonymous

    That’s right, pattif – when I said we’re not supposed to say who is “holy” I meant that this should be left of the proper process of canonisation in the Church. I’ve said, in conversation (and possibly in writing) that I THINK X or Y “may” be very holy or “seems/is likely to be” but I’ve never said X is a very holy person because there is no way I can possibly know that.

    As for the fast-tracking. In the early church people were proclaimed saints locally – it was the way of things until the Church realised the need to set in place a reputable system for such proclamations. Now that we have the system, we fall into the heresy of antiquarianism if we cling to earlier customs. You would get away with saying to a policeman, “I’m parking here, yellow lines or no yesllow lines, because when I was a lad/lassie, there weren’t any yellow lines here.”

  • Michel Roi

    I don’t know about Great Britain, but here in Canada there are moderate Catholics like myself (I like the Novus Ordo, social action on behalf of the poor AND aagainst abortion, and enjoy reading Henri Nouwen and Joseph Ratzinger), and are uneasy with the prospect of JPII’s canonization. A saint is someone who lived a life of heroic virtue which includes faithfulness to the duties of one’s state of life. For a pope therefore, this would require a certain competence in governing the Church.

    John Paul II was sent a dtailed report on clerical sex abuse stamped by the papal nuncio to the US, Pio Langhi, and hand delivered by Cardinal Kroll. That was in the mid 80′s! Why did it take him so long to address this terrible problem? He sang the praises of Marcial Maciel, a moral monster, and promoted him as an “efficacious guide for youth”. Even though suspicion had hung over Maciel’s head from at least the 50′s and accusations had been brought forward by credible men who were not looking for money. Not to mention the repulsive personality cult that surrounded Maciel and the infamous fourth vow required of his followers (never to criticize him).

    Then there’s the scandalous promotion of Cardinal Law to a plush assignment in Rome. Did JP want to indicate approval of the way Law managed the abuse crisis in Boston? Management that North American Catholics from accross the spectrum view as criminal? What was in the pope’s mind?!

    What about the Vatican Bank scandals and Archbishop Markincus and the lack of action on JP’s part regarding these?

    When I lived in Rome three years ago, I was told by a priest who belonged to a circle of clerics working for the curia, that John Paul was not a good administrator and left a “mess” for his successor.

    It may be that John Paul was not responsible in any malicious sense for the above. It might be that good explanations can be given. But for John Paul to be a worthy example of faithfulness to duty, and for imitation by future popes, these and many more questions need to be addressed.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll answer it. Yes, Pope John Paul II was a liberal Pope in terms of the faith. Too many people think he was a great conservative because he upheld the moral teaching of the Church at a time when many arrogant dissenters were pushing for the Babylon model of living. The difficulty is that the Catholic religion consists of both faith and morals, not just morals.

    Incidentally, even as regards Catholic moral teaching, the Pope in question was indirectly at fault for abuses that crept in as a result of his almost permanent absence from the Vatican. Clerical Sexual abuse crimes, for example, are almost exclusively confined to this Pontificate. The case of Marcial Maciel is another example of a scandal that flourished under this Pope until close to his reign, when, at the insistence of Cardinal Ratzinger, he finally realised that there was a problem.

    Also, in 1969 there were approximately 700 marriage annulments in the world. At the height of Pope John Paul’s Pontificate this number had risen to 50,000 in the U.S. alone. In addition, it is a well recorded fact that following Pope John Paul’s World Youth Days, cleaners had to collect and dispose of countless used condoms.

    But enough of the morality side of things, let’s look at faith issues. Pope John Paul II kissed the Koran, received the mark of Shiva (a Hindu Goddess) on his forehead, permitted a bare breasted woman to read the Gospel at one of his Masses, organised and attended the pan-religious scandal of Assisi, during which Buddhists placed their false god atop a tabernacle and worshipped it, placed a prayer of apology into the Western Wall of the JewishTemple in Jerusalem for supposed past wrongs of the inviolate Church, sat in a Synagogue with his head bowed while the Rabbi read out a prayer for the coming of the Messiah and generally permitted liberal clergy everywhere to commit the most horrendous sacrileges during countless novelty adaptations of the Holy Mass. The only one he ever acted to suppress was Archbishop Lefebvre, the Archbishop who refused to alter the Mass and the Faith of two thousand years. What does this tell you, Mr. Oddie?

  • Jack Regan

    “In addition, it is a well recorded fact that following Pope John Paul’s World Youth Days, cleaners had to collect and dispose of countless used condoms.”

    Please cite a source for the above, otherwise it is a gross slander on a great many people.

  • W Oddie

    Weigel’s wasn’t the leading article, even if it was the most important INDEPENDENT PERSONAL VIEW in that particular issue of the bitter pill. There’s a very big difference. And really, there’s no point in arguing with someone who thinks that JPII was a liberal. And you have absolutely no right to tell me that I wasn’t properly catechised (what do you know about it?), though you are of course simply doing it to irritate the **** out of me. But you are simply carrying on your policy of doling out insults indiscriminately. Not properly catechised, indeed.

  • Hof

    “But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth. “

  • Anonymous

    Well, I stand corrected on that – I haven’t seen the hard copy of The Tablet/Pill so was judging by the online version where it’s placed at the top – my mistake. Still, my point stands: there was no article by Bishop Fellay when the excommunications were lifted and the euphoria surrounding the reporting of the Ordinariate stands in stark contrast to the nastiness of the reporting about the SSPX no matter what the issue. That is very telling indeed.

    I’m sorry yuo’ve taken offence at my observation that you have not been properly catechised. I made this observation based on your acceptance of Assisi III and by your uncritical loyalty to the Pope which trumps your loyalty to the Faith. Rather than attribute blame to you for this, I made the (charitable) assumption that, as a convert at this time of crisis in the Church, you had not received sound instruction. I know others who complain about this. Indeed, if you read our current newsletter, you will see we feature an Open Letter to the Scots Bishops from a young woman who is doing precisely that – reporting her own inadequate-through-to-non-catechesis. Read it before the February edition replaces it. (although, come to think of it, I’ve made it a permanent feature on our new Ecumensm page.) Whatever, or, more accurately, wherever, if you read Janice’s letter you will see how this young, twenty-something wife and mother,came to realise she had not been properly catechised. It’s had a huge impact – almost every letter on our letters page in the February edition, is about that Open Letter. So, forgive me – I wasn’t trying to irritate you, W Oddie, and I’m surprised you would think that.

    I suppose I’ve blown my Valentine’s card then?

  • LeFloch

    JPII kissed the Koran, allowed altar girls, tolerated Communion in the hand, always defended the Second Vatican Disaster including all its errors (collegiality, religious liberty, false ecumenism), prayed alongside Protestants, Pagans and Jews, presided over scandalous liturgies involving pagan elements, gave succour to the Synagogue of Satan that is Talmudic Judaism, promoted and tolerated all kinds of dissenters ………. and you think he’s NOT a liberal? Is it fun in your alternate universe Dr Oddie?

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately, I can no longer access the trustworthy article on which I based my claim, so I withdraw it. There are a number of echos of the story on the Internet, but since these are by anti-Catholic sources I will not uphold or recommend them.

    What I can do is give a flavour of WYD’s at the following links. The first is a take from the traditional Catholic side. The other is a report by dissenting liberals who call themselves ‘Catholics for choice.’

    I reckon these articles say all that needs saying about World Youth Day.

  • Luce

    As a modern convert, I was drawn directly to the Latin Mass. I find the N.O. to be a confused liturgy, even when done with sacredness. Fortunately I live in an area with a thriving E.F. community, daily Mass, etc.

    Love Benedict, although I’m wondering about his decision to go ahead with the ecumenical peace day in Assisi. I just pray they don’t remove the tabernacles, as done previously, so the Buddhists and Hindus can put their gods in its place:( Talk about a scandal!

  • Jack Regan

    “Unfortunately, I can no longer access the trustworthy article on which I based my claim, so I withdraw it. There are a number of echos of the story on the Internet, but since these are by anti-Catholic sources I will not uphold or recommend them.”

    Thank you for your withdrawal.

    I see no value in debating WYD with you, but I felt that claim needed tackling.

  • Christina

    No, I haven’t met a traditional Catholic who is a modernist, and I stand corrected for confusing those terms. Thank you for pointing that out.

  • Anonymous

    You are perfectly free to avoid a debate on WYD with me. At least the links are there for others who may not, as yet, realise the great danger to Catholic souls that these rock & roll events represent to young Catholic souls.

  • Jacques

    I don’t agree.
    JP II was a great Pope but only because he indulged in the media’s stars system. The media made him.
    Being popular doesn’t mean you are a saint.
    Beatification purpose is to offer somedy as an example of heroic christian virtues.
    In that case, it would be very unjust that Pius XII wouldn’t be beatified before him since he had to lead the RCC in very hard times and take difficult decisions while keeping the helm in the right bearing. The problem is that the jewish lobby threatens to stop the so called “dialogue” every time the Vatican speaks about Pius XII’s beatification.
    There are not such obstacles with JPII. On the contrary he sowed so much confusion and relativism regarding the Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus Dogma that Jewish people as much as buddhists, muslims, sikhs, hinduists, shintoists etc… are now free to believe they are saved even if they deny God and Jesus. Therefore they don’t need conversions and much love JPII for that and they strive hard in his beatification.
    While trad catholics are expelled from the Church as narrow minded and outdated people, the prots may enter the Church through St Peter’s main gate.
    The last example: A protestant was named scientific advisor of Pope BenedictXVI.
    Rome is no longer in Rome…

  • Anonymous

    Well, Christina, since, in fact, there’s no such thing as a “liberal” Catholic (an oxymoron if ever there was one) but there are Catholics who are “Modernists” (i.e. heretics, at least material if not formal) then, in a sense, you were right too!

    We’re both right! We could be Liberal Democrats!

  • Jacques

    “Pope John Paul was a great pope – but that doesn’t mean he never made mistakes”

    In the pre Vatican II times, there were a number of great Popes who like John Paul II made mistakes, and they never were canonized nor beatified dor that exact cause: They made mistakes.
    But since “errare humanum est” they certainly are in Heavens anyway.
    In these times, the Advocate of the Devil was so powerful that he could barr anyone to be canonized if he could find any mistake in his background. Oddly enough the Devil’s Advocate was cancelled by John Paul II himself: ANOTHER MISTAKE?

  • Michel Roi

    Merci Jacques! What you wrote is very true. The Church has traditionally been relunctant to canonize popes because their errors and mistakes have such enormous consequences. JP II was a good man and did many wonderful things. But, there is reason to believe he failed, in major ways, in governing the Church. This issue should be addressed, as in past centuries it certainly would have been by the “devil’s advocate”, before holding him up as a model for future popes.

  • Anonymous

    I would have thought they were absolutely in the middle – in fact, the eye of the storm, the dead centre and right behind the Lord at all times: eyeball to eyeball with the evil-one (whatever his guise) and with his unwitting foot-soldiers among every era’s pharisees, sadducees, zealots and all the other earth-bound fanatics whose religious differences are so entangled with their political differences that they become inseparable, even as they themselves become inseparable from one another in the dead-end of their infernal discord.

  • Anonymous

    Being in the middle is not the same as being lukewarm. You can’t possibly say JPII was lukewarm about anything; he stood his ground in the face of cultural opposition and held to the truth. You don’t have to court the fringes of political, social or theological thought in order to be passionate, vocal and on fire for God. This perspective is a clear reflection of modern culture.