Saturday, July 6, 2013

John Paul's Canonization: Why Many Catholics Dissent

With the recent announcement that the new pope intends to honor his predecessor's decision to fast-track the canonization of that pope's predecessor John Paul II, I'm seeing statements made by various commentators at the time of John Paul's beatification in 2011 resurrected and circulating at various blog sites. Here are some of those, from an April 2011 Guardian article by Tom Kington:

Theologian Father Richard McBrien:

I oppose this beatification and predict history will look unkindly on John Paul, who was in denial as the worst crisis since the Reformation happened in the church.

Historian Michael Walsh: 

My doubts are about John Paul being beatified by his successor, Pope Benedict. It appears incestuous and akin to the habit of deifying one's ancestors.

Jesuit Father James Martin* (and see also here):

Years from now people may be saying, why the rush?

Here's abuse survivor and advocate for abuse survivors Peter Isely in a powerful statement in April 2011 in National Catholic Reporter--Peter Isely is talking about the fate of a letter he and some 30 survivors of sexual assault at a Capuchin boarding school in Wisconsin wrote to John Paul II: 

What we were hoping for from Pope John Paul II was justice. 
What we received instead was a certified letter from the nuncio curtly informing us that our letters and documents had been acknowledged. We never heard anything more from either him or the pope. Since then, at least two of my seminary classmates, assaulted by the priest who molested me, have taken their lives waiting for papal justice. One shot himself on Christmas Eve 2002 in his parked car under a desolate freeway underpass.

Here's Swiss theologian Father Hans Küng in Frankfurter Rundschau, by way of the Irish Times, in May 2011: 

John Paul II is universally praised as someone who fought for peace and human rights. But his preaching to the outside world was in total contrast with the way he ran the church from inside, with an authoritarian pontificate which suppressed the rights of both women and theologians.

Here's a summary of why eleven Catholic theologians from various parts of the world issued a statement in 2005 opposing the precipitous canonization of John Paul II. The group included Jesuit Father Jose Maria Castillo of the University of Granada, and it spoke of John Paul's intractable opposition to contraception though a huge majority of Catholics accept its use, his refusal to grant women any power in the church, his refusal to address the abuse crisis in the church proactively, his lack of control over "murky financial manoeuvres" within the Vatican, and his "repression and alienation" of theologians.

Here's Andrew Sullivan in a statement yesterday at his Dish site:

John Paul II was the prime obstacle in stopping this man’s [i.e., Father Marcial Maciel's] corruption and evil – far more protective than even Ratzinger. The sheer amount of money Maciel was able to shake down from the wealthy was undoubtedly salient here, as was his ability to bring countless new, Francoite priest-bots into the Church. I just don’t see how a Pope with this on his record can be made a saint almost instantly.

For what it's worth, here's a link to my own statement of dissent in 2009.

Roma locuta, of course, and none of these statements makes any difference at all now. But sometimes when institutions which profess to be all about serving the truth and moral values stop their ears to the insights of people within the institution who are also seeking truth and moral values, they compromise their own voice as they speak about truth and morality.

They may keep talking. And talking. But people stop listening, when the leaders of such institutions will not themselves listen.

* By pointing out that Tom Kington cites him in this article, I don't intend to imply that Father Martin dissents from the decision to canonize John Paul II. 

No comments: