That excellent blog, The Eponymous Flower, informs us that plans appear to be going ahead for a possible canonization of Pope John Paul II.
Actually, this is more serious than first imagined. If this is not mere wishful thinking on the part of John Paul's admirers and does indeed occur then we have reached yet another crossroads in the history of the Church.
If a legitimate canonization is done, properly and without chicanery, then as I understand it that becomes what some theologians term a "second-class infallible declaration", a declaration that that person is actually in Heaven. Now what is alarming in this particular case is that there is no evidence that John Paul II's pontificate was anything but a disaster for the Church. There is plenty of evidence that this troubled man spoke not only good words but not-so-good words, words that just skirted the edges of heresy. And, no, one doesn't need to be a licensed theologian to be able to state that, as long as one has a basic familiarity with doctrine. Additionally, there is no evidence at all, unless it has been kept secret (and why it would be kept secret at all would be an open question), that he ever recanted some of those problematical words and actions. So if the case for his sanctification is being based on what the public could clearly see and hear during his reign then it would seem utterly impossible for the Holy Ghost to allow his canonization to move forward. It would be an utter contradiction.
Unless, of course, behind-the-scenes chicanery is in play. In other words if the man actually gets canonized without any clear evidence that he undid some of the damage he inflicted on the Church by his bizarre opinions and lack of firm governance, allowing the Church to float aimlessly at sea, then we are justified in suspecting that games are being played in Rome and that proper processes are being ignored in an unseemly haste to further the agenda of the modernists in the Church. We know that John Paul II, for all his kindly qualities, was a modernist as is, by the way, the current occupant of Peter's Chair. And if Rome wants the average Catholic to put aside his suspicions about this canonization then it is going to have to release to the public solid evidence that John Paul II deserves to be declared a Saint.
It is true that generally speaking the Church looks at someone's personal holiness more than anything else (so I have been told) when assessing qualifications for Sainthood. But I believe it logical to assume that if a man is personally holy his actions would bear that out. Here there are far too many contradictions. If John Paul II were personally holy then how can one explain his actions? Can the authorities in the Church assure us that his personal holiness trumps his terrible legislation? Can his reciting of the daily rosary (which I have no doubt of) have allowed him to approve the sacrilege of Communion-in-the-hand? Yes, I do try myself to perform this duty on a daily basis but speaking honestly I believe the chances of my own future canonization are somewhat slim. This is not an attempt at flippancy. This sublime prayer has no doubt saved many from going completely off the deep end. But does it always lead to one's eventual raising to the altars? Did John Paul's prayer life prevent him from even worse mistakes? It's an interesting question. This is too serious an issue to allow sentimentality to rear its hideous head, and to wallow in our own "feelings" toward this Pope.
Since such evidence is scant at best we have a right to know what criteria Rome is using, in detail, to advance his cause. We are perfectly within our rights as Catholics to ask, "Where is the evidence?" The supposed "miracle" that has been noised about has been, under closer examination, seriously doubted by reputable scholars as being a genuine miraculous occurrence.
It was John Paul II himself who deliberately cheapened the Saint-making process by his streamlining of all the necessary precautions that the Church had in place for centuries to protect it from from making errors in these cases. These measures were in place so that the Church could declare with absolute certainty that this or that man or woman was worthy of veneration. How many times in Church history have there been charlatans who gave every evidence of holiness, only to be discovered later as frauds? That is why the Church has historically taken her time when considering the canonization of persons. Indeed it took the Church 400 years before finally declaring Joan of Arc a Saint.
We could go on cataloguing the scandals that prospered under John Paul II, some of them instituted by the man himself. Assisi is one; the "apologies"(!)to the Jews is another; the appointing and maintaining of one snake after another in the episcopacy; his downright weird meetings with pagans, topless and otherwise. It is too depressing to recall. But we must keep these tragedies in mind when we speak of canonizing a man who was at the center of these tragedies.
These attempts to canonize recent modernist Popes is a very, very troubling development. It could call into question the infallibility of the Pope in the minds of poorly-instructed Catholics. What if one of these men is "canonized" by some underhanded Vatican streamlining of the process and it later comes to light that the personal life of such a man was a moral mess? Unless we know for certain that proper procedures were in place we cannot, tragically, just assume that Rome has made a wise decision. We have the examples of Donald Wuerl and Vincent Nichols and the "theology of the body" to remind us that some decisions of the Popes are skewed at best. There is a move afoot now to canonize even Paul VI. Mind-boggling. If that man is canonized by some process of episcopal legerdemain the Church will indeed have more than egg on her face, because there are some rather unflattering aspects to his life that have been kept from the public but seem to now be leaking out.
A prayer to the Holy Ghost would seem to be in order right now.