Santo very soon? The papacy of John Paul II, in the dark light of doubts

A recent report from the Vatican shows a legacy marred with cases of sexual abuse. And it raises questions about whether his canonization was really very fast.

At the funeral of Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square, the sea of ​​mourners was they raised banners that read “Santo Sudito” or “Santo ya”. He was a church giant in the 20th century, spreading across the globe, inspiring generations of believers with his youthful, then aging magnetism, and as a Polish Pope, he helped bring down communism during his reign of more than 26 years. .

Days after his death in 2005, cardinals eager to defend his conservative policies had already begun arguing about putting him on a fast track to sainthood, while devotees in Rome and beyond clamored for his immediate canonization, drowning out the notes of caution from survivors of sexual abuse and historians for whom St. John Paul II had persistently turned a blind eye to the crimes in his church.

Now, after more than a decade of hesitation, his reputation has fallen under the darkest cloud yet, after the same Vatican that rushed to canonize him published a remarkable report last week that laid the blame at the saint’s feet for the advancement of disgraced former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick.

The investigation, commissioned by Pope Francis, who canonized John Paul II in 2014, revealed how the Polish pontiff chose not to believe long-standing allegations of sexual abuse against McCarrick, including pedophilia, which allowed him to rise in the hierarchy.

The findings detail decades of bureaucratic obfuscation and lack of accountability on the part of a number of top prelates and threaten to taint the white robes of three popes. But above all, critics say, provide strong evidence that the Church movedor with reckless speed to canonize John Paul II and now she’s trapped in her own rubble.

“He was canonized too quickly,” said Kathleen Cummings, author of “A Saint of Our Own” and director of a center on American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame. He said that given the “really damning evidence” in the report, if the Church had waited at least five years and not just days to begin the canonization process, “it probably would not have started due to John Paul II’s complicity in the scandal. of sexual abuse of clergymen ”.

A reversal of the canonization, which historians struggle to remember ever happened, is implausible. Some historians say the McCarrick report is more likely to slow down a process that Juan Pablo himself accelerated. But the report can complicate the possibilities of canonization of others at the top of the Church hierarchy during the late 20th and early 21st centuries, when the scourge of sexual abuse exploded in the institution.

The Vatican report shows that Pope Benedict XVI told McCarrick to keep a low profile when more abuse allegations surfaced in 2005. Francis, despite hearing rumors of abuse from his top lieutenants, was confident that his predecessors had adequately examined the case, the report found.

Francis has acknowledged his own failures in believing in bishops about victims. He removed McCarrick from the priesthood and in recent years has instituted new policies in the church to increase accountability. Many church experts consider these new rules they are corrections to abuses and the almost deliberate ignorance of church leaders that occurred under John Paul II.

Proponents of the Polish say the report only showed that McCarrick fooled the pope, as he did with many others during his half century of ascent to the highest ranks of the Catholic Church, and that has nothing to do with the heroic Christian virtue that made John Paul II a Saint.

Juan Pablo had been “cynically deceived” by McCarrick and other American bishops, Stanislaw Gadecki, director of the Polish bishops’ conference, said in a statement. “The saints make mistakes in judgment. This was clearly an error in judgment, ”said George Weigel, Juan Pablo’s biographer and official witness during his beatification process. McCarrick was a pathological liar. And pathological liars deceive people, including saints. “

Weigel said that if perfection were a prerequisite for holiness, St. Peter himself would not have made the cut. In fact, infallibility, which is sometimes attributed to the Popes, is not a necessary holy attribute, and history is full of saints who were not exactly holy during their lifetime.

There has been a satanic priest, prostitutes, thieves and much more on the road to redemption and holiness. In 1969, Pope Paul VI removed 93 saints from the calendar universal liturgy of the church, but above all because they might not have existed, like Saint Christopher, who carried on his shoulders an infant who with every step grew heavier with the weight of the world.

But much is known about John Paul II. some critics argue that this is reason enough not to celebrate.

Citing the “dire and callous decision-making” of John Paul II, which he said puts children around the world at risk, a Friday editorial in the National Catholic Reporter urged American bishops to meet next week for his annual conference a “Discuss the request that the Vatican formally suppress the cult of John Paul II. or stop celebrating. “Victims of abuse deserve no less.”

That is a tremendous irony for a Pope who turned the church into an efficient canonization factory. Juan Pablo knocked down the criteria for beatification from two miracles to one and did the same for canonization. He produced more than 480 saints and put enough in the pipeline so that Benedict XVI could canonize dozens more.

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