Skip to comments.Different Popes, different ways to holiness
Posted on 07/06/2013 8:50:09 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
From the time of his death in 2005, when crowds shouted 'Santo Subito!' in St. Peter's Square, to Pope Benedict XVI's waiving of the normal five-year rule (the process of canonization normally doesn't begin until five years after a person's death) to this week's leaked news that the second required miracle had been approved, the official announcement had been expected.
What was not expected in today's announcement, which came during a meeting with the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, was the approval of the canonization of Blessed John XXIII, whose process seemed to have languished in the past few years.
Still more surprising was the news that the Pope had waived the standard second miracle. Federico Lombardi, SJ, the papal spokesperson, explained, 'Despite the absence of a second miracle, it was the Pope's will that the Sainthood of the great Pope of the Second Vatican Council be recognized.'
Fr Lombardi noted that of course the pope has the authority to 'dispense' with that requirement, and also added that there had been discussions among theologians and experts about whether two miracles were needed for beatification and canonization. As ever, Pope Francis surprises. (Perhaps John XXIII's second miracle was the election of Francis.)
The two popes appeal to a wide variety of Catholics. John Paul's popularity seemed only to grow as his papacy continued, and has remained strong among Catholics since his death. A man of firm faith, a tireless evangelist, and a strong foe of both communism and poverty, John Paul II became, much as he might dislike the use of the word, a religious rock star.
Perhaps the most admirable quality of the man was his determination: his early life laboring under a Communist regime in Poland, his incredible series of papal trips, and his long battle against Parkinson's disease showed the world spiritual grit. But the man some call John Paul the Great was not perfect: revelations about the crimes of Father Marcial Maciel, the disgraced founder of the Legion of Christ, who both fathered and abused children, cast doubts on John Paul's judgment. But no saint is without flaw: the saints themselves will tell you that.
The renown of John XXIII, on the other hand, seemed to declined among in some quarters of the church, though for those who love him, he is an immense hero. (Some of this decline was inevitable: the simple aging and death of those alive during his years as pope meant fewer admirers.)
Humble, humorous, affable, clever and creative, the man who convoked the Second Vatican Council, which came upon him, he said, not as the fruit of long meditation but, as 'the flower of an unexpected spring,' is beloved as Good Pope John.
But John XXIII was not, as some would have him, simply a jolly, roly-poly old man. A veteran diplomat and a well-read expert in church history, the former Patriarch of Venice was able to deftly steer the church towards the dangerous shores of renewal. He was also strong in his opposition to that worst of traits in the Catholic church: pessimism.
In response to those who portended only peril and danger in the world, Pope John responded succinctly in his Opening Address to the Second Vatican Council: 'We feel we must disagree with these prophets of gloom.'
But neither was John XXIII perfect: a few point to his pontificate as the beginning of 'drift' in the church, and to his Council as ultimately one that tilted too much towards the modern world.
The joint announcement by Pope Francis may strike some as simply a canny 'move' on his part. The two popes are seen to appeal to different types of Catholics, and so this announcement will serve to unite these groups.
For me, I deeply admire John Paul II, but John XXIII is a great hero. For some friends of mine, that statement would be reversed. But all, I hope can rejoice today...
Can. 1403 §1. Special pontifical law governs the causes of canonization of the servants of God.
§2. The prescripts of this Code, however, apply to these causes whenever the special pontifical law refers to the universal law, or norms are involved which also affect these causes by the very nature of the matter.
The current process is defined in Apostolic Constitution Divinus Perfectionis Magister (with appropriate references to earlier works).
That is the norm and has been since 1983. However, as Canon Law clearly defines,
Can. 331 The bishop of the Roman Church, in whom continues the office given by the Lord uniquely to Peter, the first of the Apostles, and to be transmitted to his successors, is the head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the pastor of the universal Church on earth. By virtue of his office he possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely.
So if the Holy Father wishes to dispense with something, there is not a controversy in this area. The canonization process does not make a saint, it is a formal acknowledgement of what God has already wrought. The process is a matter of prudence, not a matter of Holy Writ.
I obtained a copy of Blessed John XXIII’s “Journal Of A Soul” years ago. He would get all over himself for minor faults. He definitely pursued the heights of holiness. His smile and manner remind me somewhat of Pope Francis.
Thanks for posting this, Alex. It’s always encouraging to be reminded of men who lived their lives loving Christ our Lord and God, and striving to do His will.
What’s the rush? Why not wait for the second miracle like for everyone else’s canonization process? Are they going to do away with the requirement for a second miracle for everyone? If not, what’s so special about John XXIII that his canonization couldn’t wait for one? I really, really don’t like the precedent that this is setting.
Pope Francis also, in the interviews that have been published before his election, talks about his failures, even small failures, and his contrition.
“Different Popes, different ways to holiness”
There’s only One Way to “holiness/Heaven/salvation”, and it has nothing to do with a pope’s point of view. Truth isn’t variable.
Indeed, in a fuller context: the Archbishop of Mesembria (Greece?) Apostolic Delegate & Nuncio Roncalli was made a cardinal in 1953 by Pope Pius XII.
If we think of that as Pacelli's reward to Roncalli for doing the right thing during the Holocaust, it reflects well not only on Roncalli, but on Pacelli as well.
John Paul II, John XII, Pius XII:
the only way into heaven is through HIM
Pope Pius reminds me of Calvin Coolidge, with those glasses.
True enough but the Pope IS empowered to declare those who have led us to the truth of Jesus and deserve veneration. That is a matter of Catholic Canon Law.
John 14:5 "Jesus said where I am going you know the way. Thomas said to him, Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way? Jesus said to him, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Through, and with, and in Jesus Christ Our Lord, Who is the same yesterday, tofay and forever, Amen.
BTW, I think we've had a really good run of Popes, certainly in my lifetime. I thank God for good shepherds.
And these two Popes by the way they lived their lives of faith in HIM who is the way.
I don't recall when there was last a real lemon. It seems as if all through the 19th and 20th centuries, at least they were all trying hard.
it’s been that way since the temporal holdings were removed. That was long overdue, and it happened in a painful way, but was necessary
That’s an excellent point, and I agree with you.