April 8

Is JP2’s Upcoming Beatification Scandalous?



Yesterday on the show we talked with Tony Melendez about his experiences with Pope John Paul II and shared how much of an impact he had on our lives, as well.

While I know some people may not feel as affectionately towards JP2 as we do, I’m still surprised whenever we encounter people who seem to have outright disdain for the man, like in this email from someone who listened to our discussion yesterday.  My comments in red, but we’d be curious to read your take on this.  Do you think this email has any valid points?

I periodically listen to your show.  Recently, I heard a show in which you were fawning over JPII [Fawning implies that we were falling all over ourselves.  I would say we were sharing our appreciation for a loved one, much like we would a grandparent].  While he was loved by the masses, so is Obama [Right off, he lost me at this point.  He may as well have invoked Godwin’s law].   That should not be the sole qualifier for sainthood!

JPII was in charge of our Holy Church when it was scandalized by pedophiles [and he addressed this criminal issue and important changes have been made in the Church to prevent these offenses in the future]. JPII allowed the litany of liturgical abuses to continue under his leadership [I would argue that the blame for many of these abuses falls in the hands of certain bishops, who of course, were under the leadership of JP2]. JPII attempted to change the most holy rosary instead of merely making his mysteries a separate chaplet (like the chaplet of St Michael) [he didn’t “attempt to.”  He did.  And I welcome the change, personally.].  JPII presided over these awful prayer meetings at Assisi; we do not stand side by side with heretics [Is that what Jesus meant in John 17:21?  I’d encourage you to read Ut Unum Sint for more on this].  JPII allowed these rock like concerts to occur under the title “world youth day” [you mean with its emphasis on Eucharistic Adoration and drawing the youth closer to Christ in the Eucharist?].

No doubt that JPII had some very endearing qualities. But proclaiming him a saint (blessed), especially after just a couple of years [it’s been six years now, not two] after his papacy, is possibly scandalous and certainly premature.  It took holy mother church many many years to canonize Robert Bellarmine and there is no comparison to the work he performed to save us (Holy Church) from Protestantism [but because of our modern day society and technology, the work of John Paul II is much more documented and accessible than that of Robert Bellarmine, with whom many Catholics are entirely unfamiliar].

I realize that your wife is a convert and you are a cradle catholic and both post-VatII babies, but there are currently two western Masses (TLM and the Novus ordo). You should explore the difference before clinging so tightly to the new one [you assume we haven’t].  The FSSP has a beautiful Latin rite church in Atlanta [and we’ve been told multiple times by different families that with as loud as some of our kids are, we wouldn’t be overly welcome at such Masses in our area]. You both owe it to yourselves and your children to explore it [we would welcome the opportunity to celebrate in the Latin rite, but in this season of our life it is not possible].

I would be interested in hearing your comments and thanks for the pro life work you both do.

1962 was the year in which Pope John XXIII issued a solemn papal bull, Veterum Sapientia, which confirmed that, as it had been in the past; Latin, it must ever continue to be the language of the Mass and the Roman Catholic Church. Pope John XXIII  specifically rejected the use of a vernacular language as unCatholic and confirmed Sacred Tradition and the dogmatic Council of Trent that anyone who called for the use of any other language in the Mass than the traditional Latin is condemned. [I’m not overly familiar with this last document, so perhaps someone else can chime in on this matter.  UPDATE 3/8/11 – I reviewed this document and it does not include what the email claimed.  See more details in the comments below.].

So what are your thoughts?  I still believe John Paul II is entirely deserving of beatification.  Did he make mistakes?  Certainly.  Could he have done better in some circumstances?  Without a doubt.  But the same could be said for every single saint we honor in the Church today.

About the author 


Greg is married to Jennifer. They've got five kids.

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  • Perhaps my response is inappropriate, but I’m laughing. I mean, if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m typing I might be bent over giving a hearty belly laugh, because I don’t understand where this person is coming from. This is hilarious to me.

    How do you attend Mass and present yourself to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament with such distain in your heart? And judgement? I found it interesting that you neglected to capitalize “Catholic” and “Holy Mother Church”. As well, your argument that Greg & Jennifer should attend the Latin Rite Mass seems to come out of left field — is it your argument that this is the only true Mass and those of us attending the more “modern” Mass are all condemned? I’ve always joked that I’m bringing the streamers to Hell … perhaps I truly am 🙂 I would argue, however, that with the apparent anger in your heart over Vatican II, all these years later, you are the one living without God in your life and are truly in Hell. You should trust in God/Christ that He knows what He’s doing with His Church, and knows how to use the people He’s put in charge of it.

    I will pray for you,

  • My guess is that you are responding strongly to the word “fawning” which is a bit loaded, but to be fair, you are very enthusiastic when you speak of JPII (and you explain it quite well as the love and affection for a grandfather).

    With that said, I think we have to be fair and consistent when examining the potential for sainthood, and recognize that although the people called for “santo subito” the Church has in place a process for verification, etc.

    There is no question that JPII was influential — he had a very long pontificate. He had very particular gifts that were perhaps necessary for the Church at that time. We have to always remember that these men must be judged in their time (by that I mean by the period of history that they occupy) so to offer comparisons to saints from a different time is not very accurate nor useful.

    I agree that our faith has some very beautiful traditions that are many hundreds of years old (and I agree that attending TLM for your family would be more stressful for you than it would be a celebration — so how wonderful that our Church can serve the many needs of her faithful) but the Church is also living and dynamic. I get a subtle tone in this commentary that the writer dislikes JPII because he was an agent of change (he cited the rosary and WYD). I think it would be fair to recognize that after a 27 year pontificate we’d be able to observe lots of change, and yet, he was slow to institute it. The rosary, for sure, couldn’t have been something that he did as a whim — it was very carefully thought out and, in my opinion, an absolutely lovely “completion” of the scriptural meditations.

    What I am saying in such a long-winded way is that I think JPII was a great leader and the leader that the Church needed at that time. Is he a saint? It looks that way.

  • This e-mailer should be ashamed of himself! I am a 20-something year old & I supposed I would be considered a “post Vatican II baby”. However, my faith grew up in an FSSP parish & I love the Tridentine Mass. My husband & I later got married on the Feast of Our Lady’s Assumption with a Solemn High Mass, & it was absolutely beautiful!

    To compare John Paul II to President Obama is scandalous, quite contrary to Holy Mother the Church beautifying Karol Wojtyla to be blessed & most likely, who will be eventually a saint.

    As our (FSSP) assistant pastor once said that we are not holier than others Catholic just because we attend a Tridentine Mass. He said that if anything, we attend a Tridentine Mass because we need more help than other Catholics to attain sanctification. I clearly remember another one of our FSSP pastors saying that we MUST NOT disregard the validity of the Mass outside of the Tridentine Rite.

    Your e-mail is concerning and it can give the faithful a wrong idea of the Tridentine Mass and those who attend it. And I highly doubt that your pastor at Saint Francis de Sales in Atlanta is teaching such things that would go against the Sovereign Pontiff.

    • You are most lucky to have had that experience in the traditional faith. There was never a reason to change the Mass or the theology.

      Even Paul VI indicated that the smoke of satan entered the sanctuary.

  • I found the email condescending and angry. It also seems to imply an idea that I often perceive from some traditionalists — that somehow all the Church’s problems will be magically fixed as soon as we go back to the Latin Mass.

    • Can you provide three fruits of the new theology? Is is an increase in the priesthood, attendance at Holy Mass or the belief in the real presence?

      I can’t find any N.O. Catholics that can explain the Mass to me.

      Try reading some pre-Vatican II (pastoral council) writings.

        • There clearly is a huge difference. You have both into the new theology? What are the fruits of this new theology?

          I am interested in listening.

          • Just for clarification, what is the new theology? This seems to be one of those derogatory terms that are used to automatically put people on the defense. And it seems like you’re simultaneously asking about two different things in one question. Are you asking how the Novus Ordo has bore fruit? Because Novus Ordo is a way of celebrating Mass, not of theology, per se. Or are you asking how this “new theology” has bore fruit? And if that’s your question, again, explain what you mean by “new theology” as this is a label that most Catholics are likely unfamiliar with and I’m having a hard time figuring out what your actual question is.

  • In a world where there is every crime imaginable, poverty, earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear reactors that look like they’ve been hit with a bomb, and morals scandals or all sorts – all available 24/7 on CNN and online – let’s just be still a moment and bask in the joy of our church beatifying a great man. This is a holy moment in a world seriously lacking in holy moments.

    As for the man who wrote the e-mail posted in your blog, Greg, I have two suggestions: Dear Sender: (1) Send a copy of your e-mail to Pope Benedict XVI, not Greg Willits. This was the Pope’s decision, not Greg’s. And (2) Don’t ask for (soon-to-be) Blessed John Paul II’s intercession. Not even if your wife and children were in trouble. If he isn’t up to your standards to be beatified, then he certainly isn’t worthy enough to pray on your behalf.

  • Pope Alexander VI isn’t worthy either!

    After serving this country’s freedom for 30 years, please refrain from telling me who should and shouldn’t pray for me or my family.

    YPy sound llike a snotty little school girl.

    • Hey, watch the name calling, please. That’s not helpful at all, and not the way Catholics should treat each other.

    • Wow – that’s amazing. You’re spot on! I AM a snotty little school girl! How did you know?

  • As I understand it, beatification means that the Church has good evidence that an individual who has passed from this life is now partaking in the beatific vision. Whether or not the individual was a good administrator, a pr guru, or a major agent for change has nothing to do with it. All that matter is how much that person loved to Lord, and how far they were willing to go to live out that love. It’s God who calls us to sainthood, all we can do here on earth is attempt to recognize a few of the saints that are with our Lord in heaven.

    By the way, I attend mass in Latin just about every day, and it’s NO.

  • Just as a follow-up, I just finished reading “Veterum Sapientia,” which was referred by the person who sent this e-mail. No where in that document, in my reading, did it make any sort of statement that the emailer claimed it did. In fact, doing a quick Google search of the emailer’s quote, I found that quote in its entirety on a Traditional Roman Catholic website, where it apparently originated and the emailer either copied word for word, or he’s the one who wrote the paragraph for that other website (you can see it here – http://www.traditio.com [slash] comment/com1104.htm (I substitued [slash] for / so as not to get inundated with spammers from that other website)). If you’d like to read a translation of Veterum Sapientia, you can do so here – http://www.adoremus.org/VeterumSapientia.html

    I will say that particular document is actually quite beautiful in its defense of Latin, but it was from the perspective of Latin being the language of the Church, which it is. That is why all new encyclicals, etc., are published first in Latin. But the claim that “Latin must ever continue to be the language of the Mass” is not in there. The claim that Latin remains the language of the Church IS in there, and is true in all documents published by the Church. But the insertion of “the Mass” in the aforementioned quote is a hopeful claim by either that website or the emailer. Furthermore, I did not see in my reading where Pope John XXIII rejected the use of vernacular as unCatholic in that document.

    I love the use of Latin, and would welcome the celebration of Mass in this language of the Church. But it is irresponsible to paraphrase a Church document and claim it says something that it does not, but instead simply quote from another website that holds values the same as one’s own.

    • Kudos for reading the doc and reporting back, Greg! I skimmed it myself this morning during your discussion about it on TCND. I came to similar conclusions.

  • Just tell me when the three mysteries of the Rosary became a dogmatic absolute! I love the Mysteries of Light!, especially the 5th – the Institution of the Holy Eucharist as the Sacramental Expression of the Paschal Mystery. How awesome and traditional is that?

    Listen, JP II fought Liturgical abuse and condemned it on multiple occasions. He could not drive the little Pope Mobile around as a Liturgical Police car. I love the Extraordinary form as well as the Ordinary Form, But these people who do not recognize the holiness of John Paul are nuts (sorry for the name calling, Greg).

    Unite people, we have a great man who did his part to bring us back from the edge of destruction in the world and a major schism in the Church. JP II was a gift to the Church during a very volatile time, now the Lord is going to show the whole world how truly Great he is!

  • Mableton might be a bit far to travel to St. Francis de Sales (not that there aren’t some who travel that far & further), but you’re still welcome to make the visit of course.

    As for your worry about the kids, I really don’t think that’s well founded considering the number of quite large families to be found at St. Francis de Sales on Sunday mornings, especially at the 9:00 AM Mass. Yes they do get loud at times. Sometimes they have to be taken out for a while. Nothing wrong with that.

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