Unsullied: Why Pope John Paul II Is Still Both Saint and Great

Unsullied: Why Pope John Paul II Is Still Both Saint and Great November 23, 2020

Pope John Paul II (1920 -2005) conducting Holy Mass at the Kaplicowka Hill (Chapel Hill) in Skoczow, during his one-day unofficial visit to Poland, 22nd May 1995. (Photo by Wojtek Laski/Getty Images)

On the Warpath to Destroy St. John Paul the Great

I can’t stand hateful trolls.  And nowhere are they more present than on the warpath to dethrone Pope John Paul II as both saint and one of the great popes. The National Catholic Distorter has most recently tripped my trigger by calling on the Vatican to suppress the cult of St. John Paul II in the United States. Why? Because this newspaper and others of its ilk in the national press are reacting to the recently released Vatican McCarrick report which states that even though John Paul received  deliberate misinformation concerning the disgraced and unmade cardinal, he appointed McCarrick to the position of Archbishop of Newark and Archbishop of Washington, D. C.  The line goes that John Paul should have known McCarrick’s immorality, and, because he appointed him anyway, he should no longer be considered a saint worth venerating or a great pope.

Bad Personnel Choices Means No Sainthood?

What balderdash. First of all, one’s sainthood is not decided by that saint’s personnel choices. All of us in administration have had to endure the fact that we have appointed or recommended people who turned out to be terrible at their job. We either did not know their faults or chose to believe the better recommendations, not because we were weak, but because we were congenitally attuned to the basic goodness in human nature. St. John Paul had the added burden of growing up in the horrific communist state where it was de rigor to publish calumnies against priests. He was genetically driven to not believe what were most often scurrilous rumors. Should he have believed anything bad of McCarrick? Perhaps, but his decisions were made before the priest scandals were universal. Mistakes in judgment are not sins.

The Greatness of St. John Paul II

Second, one’s public sainthood is decided by the Pope. It’s a dogma folks. Once pronounced, it’s infallible. John Paul II is a saint whether anyone likes it or not and to say otherwise or to suggest his veneration be suppressed is heretical. Sorry NCR. Besides, the overwhelming trend of St. John Paul II’s life was one of selfless evangelization and a thirst for justice. He freed hundreds of millions of people caught in the communist hegemony. He literally lifted a dying Church back to life with his focus on catechesis and orthodoxy. I am sure no one is more sorry than he is that he did not catch out the reprobates that hid behind religious orders or the episcopacy. But to expect him to have had the knowledge that we do today of the rottenness of McCarrick and the policies we have in place to catch people like him today is patently unfair.

Apply the Same Standard To Christ

Most importantly, the hate-filled critics would have to use the same litmus test against Christ himself. Today is the feast of Christ the King. Should we tip off that crown, reduce Christ from Godhood, take away his Messiahship all because he chose Judas? My hunch is that quite a few of the apostles did not like him and probably expressed themselves to Jesus. They knew he was a thief. Did they know he was a betrayer? Christ probably suspected. Why didn’t he get rid of him? Why did he choose him in the first place? Doesn’t it show some moral turpitude, some weakness, some flaw in Christ’s judgment that he chose a person that nearly brought down the whole Jesus movement, not to mention killed one of Judas’ supposed best friends?

Or does it show one of Jesus’ endearing and enduring characteristics–presuming the best in someone and giving them a chance to let Christ lift them up to glory?

The Sin Rests With McCarrick and Those Around Him Who Enabled Him

There is great sinfulness around the McCarrick issue. The main sinfulness rests on with McCarrick himself. Others who protected him, having real knowledge of his sinfulness, and still promoted him to the pope have a lot to answer for as well. But sin does not cling to St. John Paul the Great in this instance. Today, we in the Church look at almost everything from the view of the Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal. But that was not true during St. John Paul II’s lifetime. And he should not be punished because he did not act like we most certainly would act today.

Media: Seeing the Splinter, Blind to the Beam in One’s Own Eye

Of course, all those newspaper rags that damn St. John Paul also have conveniently absolved Joe Biden of his supposed sexual transgressions and peccadillos. It’s interesting that they do so without doing the investigation they so ruthlessly and tendentiously demanded St. John Paul II do to supposed perpetrators. There seems to be, in humanity, a wish to believe the best in people. That’s not bad. It needs to be calibrated by prudence, but better a merciful view than a condemnatory one lest the innocent fall prey to injustice. Too bad the media can’t see the plank in their own eye.

In the end, those who cry the loudest in condemnation of the sainted pope always hated him when he was alive and wished since to discredit his legacy. I have a prayer for them. May the Father bless them with the same mercy they show others; may the Son bless them with the same understanding they give to those who must apply gospel values; and may the Holy Spirit bless them with the same love they show their neighbor. For the measure they measure with will be measured back to them. May St. John Paul the Great pray that their troubled hearts be filled with compassion and love. Amen.

Browse Our Archives