Sunday, April 27, 2014

The example of Pope John Paul II

A radical traditionalist right winger (name withheld because it's just a blog comment after all) responded negatively to the canonization of St. John Paul The Great. Here is my response to each of his points, which NEED to be responded to.
The file photo taken on November 30, 2004 which shoes John Paul blessing the forehead of Fr. Marcial Maciel tells an enormous story. This priest(?) was known in the Vatican for FIFTY YEARS as a drug addict, predator of seminarians and young priests, the father of children (whom he also abused)by two women, the founder of the Legionnaries of Christ, a con man who sent millions of dollars to the Vatican, and we are to believe that JP II knew nothing of this despite serving as pope for 26 years! Then add Assisi I and II, kissing the Koran, praying in a glade in the South Pacific with natives who believed it was the home of their gods, Communion in the hand while standing, altar girls, allowing the Traditional Mass to be denied for his entire pontificate,and tell me this man demonstrates that he is deserving of canonization.
Pedophilia, drug abuse, and womanizing are extreme sins, especially for a priest, most certainly for the leader of a group the size of the Legion of Christ. Likewise, Cardinal Law, whose very name has become an internet meme in the same light as Godwin's law (Godwin's law is that any given flame war, the probability of somebody mentioning Hitler is in direct proportion to the number of posts in the thread; Cardinal Law is that given any flame war about the Catholic Church, the probability of somebody mentioning the sex abuse scandal is in direct proportion to the number of posts in the thread) represents an even bigger sin of omission committed against those abused by priests and joined in by a large number of Bishops.
But none of these are the unforgivable sin.
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which I would describe as the failure to repent, is the unforgivable sin. It's unforgivable precisely *because* we fail to trust God enough with our own sins. You can't judge another person to be unforgivable, nor can I. That's between them and their confessor and God.
Clearly the Church believed that these men were repenting. And on this Divine mercy Sunday, I find it very powerful indeed that the Church seems to be saying that yes, no matter what the sin, if repentance is undertaken, forgiveness is possible. Perhaps not perfect forgiveness. Perhaps the repentance wasn't perfect either. But what a powerful, powerful example of FORGIVENESS Pope John Paul II gave us in how he treated these sinners.
Let us respond to that not with hatred for the Church, but with a greater call to forgiveness in our own lives.
He then brings up the prayers for peace at Assisi, kissing the Koran, Praying in a glade in the South Pacific. Well, I'd suggest that the author needs to read Nostra Aetate, but I know that reasoning is beyond the Holy Church Frozen at the Council of Trent that so many radical traditionalists believe in. So instead, I'd suggest reading The Last Battle by CS Lewis, which made the same point to me when I was 10 years old in a much more readable and enjoyable fashion. Fiction is sometimes a better teacher of theology than encyclicals, but it's sad that we can't read the encyclicals too.
Finally, we have a smattering of liturgical abuse- or at least imagined liturgical abuse, since the grand majority of these are not the responsibility of the Pope, but under the principle of subsidiarity, are under the responsibility of the Local Ordinary. It wasn't the Vatican that imposed these changes from the top down, but the Bishops from the bottom up; many Bishops always made some space for those who don't understand the difference between dogma, doctrine, and discipline. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal has always made it clear that the Local Ordinary is in charge of discipline, and these are all matters of discipline.

Saint John Paul The Great, pray for us. St. Faustina, Pray for us. O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy. Amen.

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