Saints are very human

We have learned that John Paul II cared little or nothing for the victims of his priests and bishops but was instead concerned with protecting bishops, preserving the image of the priesthood and finding a focus for blame anywhere but in the institutional Church.

So writes Tom Doyle the brave  Dominican priest who chucked his upperly mobile  career as a  Vatican canon lawyer for his defense of the victims of sex abuse.

The same John Paul ll will be soon become a ‘saint’ along with Pope John XXlll even though John XXlll did not have a “second miracle.” Pope Francis rejected this contentious category of “miracle” as a necessary criterion for  sanctity.

A life of depth, compassion and justice-making should be more than enough to pass the bar of lived holiness.

The papacy of John Paul ll of course has had a dramatic re-evaluation since his death. Quite simply there were many very bad patches to his reactionary tenure.



One of the worst of course was his blind fidelity to one of the biggest frauds in the Catholic pantheon, Fr Marcial Macial, the founder of the arch conservative Legion of Christ religious order. One of the greatest fundraisers and papal sycophants of the 20th century, Macial really bamboozled John Paul ll who loved his total subservience to Rome. In the end the oily prelate was proved to be a serial molester of seminarians  and father of  two out of wedlock children. For decades he kept a mistress all the while toadying up to Rome. Yet to John Paul ll he  was an “efficacious guide to youth”. Other right wing Catholics leapt to his defence.

Prominent among them were ex CIA director William Casey, the notorious  Latin American death squad supporter. He donated $1 million for a school in Connecticut. The late convert from Lutheranism Fr. Richard John Neuhaus suggested that it was a “moral certainty” that Macial was innocent. Others who scoffed at the charges were papal biographer George Weigel and Mary Ann Glendon the Harvard Law  professor who became  the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. All were fooled by Macial. In retrospect the worst dupe was Pope John Paul ll.

Jason Berry the great New Orleans journalist wrote that “Macial made a practice in Mexico of cultivating wealthy widows and the wives of wealthy men. The Legion prep schools catered to affluent families, recruiting parents to Regnum Christi. The schools fed young men into the Legion.” The pope loved this fraudulent cleric—almost as much as the other “saint” Jose Maria Escriva the founder of Opus Dei who also courted the wealthy and brought immense amounts of money into the Vatican coffers.

After John Paul ll died in 2005 Pope Benedict quickly  banished Macial  to a “life of prayer and repentance.” After he died in 2008,  Benedict freely expressed his horror over this life of such deception. In 2010 he described the former papal favourite’s life as “out of moral bounds” and “a wasted, twisted life.”

On wonders why Benedict moved so quickly to can Macial after John Paul’s death. The truth had been known for probably a decade.

José Barba, a retired Mexico City college professor argues  that Benedict wished to protecting John Paul II’s reputation. Ratzinger wanted to elevate John Paul to beatification to defend the sainthood case against the accusations that John Paul protected predators.”

This makes eminent sense.

John Paul ll was very human. He had many blind spots  in his wish to protect the institution. Tom Doyle s only saying what many Vatican watchers have said about the late pope.  His ideology often blinded him to the facts of many situations and his evaluation of many loyal church people, in particular Bishop Oscar Romero.

Should this prevent Pope John Paul ll from canonization? Hardly. It merely points out the frailty of the human condition—even of popes.



1 Comment »

  1. 1
    wmgrace Says:

    “We have learned that John Paul II cared little or nothing for the victims of his priests and bishops but was instead concerned with protecting bishops, preserving the image of the priesthood and finding a focus for blame anywhere but in the institutional Church.”

    I think we’re looking at quite a bombshell of a statement here. A little unpacking. If the above allegation is true (and probably that could still be substantiated by others close to the vatican) then some things become clear. JPII had full knowledge of the crimes committed. Otherwise why or how could he have orchestrated an effort to preserve the image of the bishops and priesthood? Most people would call this a blatant cover-up, and out and out lying. A prosecuting lawyer would call it concealing a crime and failing to report a crime to the proper authorities. That would have made him an accessory to the crime and that’s an indictable offence. The horrific nature, vast scope and lasting damage to persons, families and communities is still being calculated. This was/is a major crime – lets call it that, and not the “sex abuse scandal”. Often in the court of law, accessories are considered just as guilty as the principals in the crime.

    A little more hypothetically but not at all unrealistically, more investigation might uncover the nature and extent of dialogue between the investigating authorities and the pope. I mean, how could the police not at least have talked to the man who was heading-up the largest religion in the world, especially when these crimes were/are associated exclusively with his church? The shockwaves of the crimes were reported daily in the mainstream media. What did JPII tell the authorities about what he knew? Would that have constituted obstruction of justice? Again, another indictable offence.

    I don’t want to judge the man and I won’t. But this specific act of concealment and the deliberate misleading of the people – not to mention the proper authorities – in a matter as grave as this, is not something we should minimize or give him a pass on. Essentially and lets not forget, his actions in a cover-up would have led to a continued and severe injustice against the sex abuse victims, insofar as their rights of redress were blocked and denied. Logic would dictate that his inaction in at least trying to correct the root problems within the Catholic church, would also have enabled bishops and priests to commit further crimes.

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