In a marvelous sleight of hand on Sunday Pope Francis canonized two recent popes, John Paul l and John XXlll,
Much to the chagrin of those in the Curia, he waived the necessary “second miracle” and brought the great John XXlll into the vaunted company of the saints.
Nothing the Curia could do as the pope has total control of saint making.
The putative ‘miracles” are an embarrassment anyway. Who can tell what constitutes real healing ?That doctors can’t explain it means nothing as there is much the medical community does not know about disease and wellness.
The problem is what kind of a God answers some prayers and not others? A bit arbitrary as Pope Francis knew as he ushered Angelo Rocalli into “sainthood.”. And two year old babies still die of cancer. Did their loved ones not pray enough. The question is absurd. Nevertheless the double play was a brilliant stroke as many Catholic commentators pointed out.
They figured Francis was cornered after Pope benedict rushed his former boss onto the fast track. As much papal politics as anything. The thinking is the canonization would de facto bless his whole pontificate and his attempt to turn the reforms of Vatican ll back
Many in the curia never welcomed Vatican ll,”the greatest change in Catholic thinking” ever according to the great apartheid fighter the late Durban archbishop Denis Hurley.
John’s pontificate lasted but five years but he changed the sclerotic Catholic church forever and now Pope Francis has stated that there is no going back on the great council.
JP ll was a global superstar and quite good on human rights and a trenchant critic of consumerism.
Sadly “ad intra”, that is inside the Church he was not a good pope.This very good man had may great flaws not the least was raising so many Yes man to the head of major Catholic Sees thus stalling the necessary reforms of Vatican ll. He created a monoculture which hindered the evolution of Catholic moral teaching and he attempted to impose a one size fits all template on the whole Church.
The great Chicago theologian David Tracy predicted that it wouldn’t work and it hasn’t.The Church in Poland had been frozen in time, authoritarian in nature(as some would argue it had to be next to the communist behemoth) but this model was hardly a model for an increasingly educated lay Church. The result was massive defections in the educated Catholic world. His attempts to ban female ordination forever, almost declaring it de fide, central to faith was embarrassing.The theology which attempted to justify this exclusion was intellectually barren and an insult to the rich Catholic tradition which honours the role of the spirit and the “signs of the times.” In Pope John XXlll’s final encyclical Pacem in Terris (1963) he flagged this sign as one that needed serious attention.
Secondly, the part that women are now playing in political life is everywhere evident. This is a development that is perhaps of swifter growth among Christian nations, but it is also happening extensively, if more slowly, among nations that are heirs to different traditions and imbued with a different culture. Women are gaining an increasing awareness of their natural dignity. Far from being content with a purely passive role or allowing themselves to be regarded as a kind of instrument, they are demanding both in domestic and in public life the rights and duties which belong to them as human persons.
This glaring sign of the time, an authentic irruption of the Spirit in history was ignored by subsequent popes.It has come to haunt the institutional church and render it gulty of sexism in the eyes of a majority of believers.
But his greatest weakness so devastatingly portrayed in Maureen Dowd’s NYT column of April 27 was his presiding over the greatest scandal in modern church history,the pedophilia crisis. More on this tomorrow.