Monday, March 29, 2010

In the context of scrutinizing the required "miracle", the Legion of Christ gets in the way

But recently, new questions have been raised about John Paul's record in combating pedophile priests. John Paul presided over the church when the sex abuse scandal exploded in the United States in 2002 and the Vatican was swamped with complaints and lawsuits under his leadership. Yet during most of his 26-year papacy, individual dioceses and not the Vatican took sole responsibility for investigating misbehavior.

But John Paul himself had long championed the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, the conservative order that fell into scandal after it revealed that its founder had fathered a child and had molested seminarians.

The Vatican began investigating allegations against the Rev. Marcial Maciel of Mexico in the 1950s, but it wasn't until 2006, a year into Benedict's pontificate, that the Vatican instructed Maciel to lead a "reserved life of prayer and penance" in response to the abuse allegations — effectively removing him from power.

"Subsequently, Benedict ordered a full-on investigation of the order since its entire existence was so closely intertwined with that of its discredited founder.

Saraiva Martins said historians who studied the pope's life as part of the sainthood process didn't find anything problematic in John Paul's handling of abuse scandals.

"According to them there was nothing that was a true obstacle to his cause of beatification," he said.

The OK from historians led to Benedict's decree last December that John Paul had led a virtuous life. As a result, all that's needed for him to be beatified is for the miracle to be confirmed."

From AP on Yahoo news. Read the whole article here.


Anonymous said...

Cardinal Martins sees no obstacle to canonization of JPII because, as we see from his comments last week, he thinks there is nothing scandalous about the cover-up and shuffling around of pervert priests. It's what every family does, after all---covers up its dirty laundry, right??

JPII was apparently just the father of one big dysfunctional family covering up for its molesting members so as not to air its "dirty laundry" to the public. Nothing to be scandalized about there. Why should that be a hinderance to anybody's canonization?

The Vatican needs to stuff a sock in the likes of Cardinal Martins if they ever hope to regain any kind of credibility or respect in the eyes of the world.

Anonymous said...

Ofcourse any effort to defend any cleric in authority over such matters will not meet with a good hearing these days, but being a historian I note so many cases of other canonized clerics who were not able to overcome the defective paradigms of ecclesial management in their day. It is not that they were neglectful, it is that they were not capable of rising above the system in their age to take it to a more just and theologically sound place. I think of St. Robert Bellarmine, for one, who with the papacy unjustly sanctioned Galileo, an action that the Church would later apologize for. History will show however that when the Church is slow to change a bad paradigm, secular forces outside will beat it up endlessly until it comes clean. John Paul understood this so well, we were all so amazed by the "purification of memory he set in action. I personally just do not think for the Papacy in those years the situation was mature enough to understand what action it needed to take.

Ofcourse if there is an explicit case where John Paul II had arrived to personal certitude of an active abuser under his immediate jurisdiction- then that would certainly be different. A pope, however is buffered by his own bureaucracy, that may have contributed as well to a smoke and mirrors understanding of the situation.
Additionally until 2001 most cases had to be processed locally, and when the final judgement was made in the CDF over 80% of the cases came from the US giving the impression that this was a local problem. Today however that number now accounts for 25% of the cases underway, and it is seen more globally.
Another note for canonization- the task is not to prove that the person in question was perfect, only that he practiced virtue heroically, and with that had no habitual vices of a serious nature. The process might be slowed down if in the media we see some clear error in JP II's judgment, that he clearly made mistakes, but that is not what the process of canonization is about. Proving holiness of life is not proving that the person whose cause is being promoted are equivalent to God.

Anonymous said...

I've never thought canonization meant a person was being promoted as equivalent to God, only that this person's heroic virtues were such that the world would find this person an example to live by. Am I wrong? There are plenty of holy people who are never canonized; I thought the whole point of canonization was to give us holy heroes to emulate.

That's why I am not keen on a fast-track canonization for JPII right now; I think such a canonization might be reason for scandal in our given times. Let the test of time show us how all the cards shake out on this one.

I actually believe that JPII was probably a very personally holy man, but I don't feel that his behavior over all at this point is such that I would want my children to emulate it, at least not in regard to his inability to see what was happening around him and to listen to the cries of the abused. For him to call such a man as Maciel an efficacious guide to youth after his victims had been writing the Pope for years does speak of negligence in my mind.

Just my own personal opinion. A quick canonization of JPII will not give me cause to rejoice. Nor give me a person I can hold up to my children as having heroically done the right thing, at least not in the matter of the very serious matter of child abuse in our church.

It will just give the media one more reason to claim the Church really doesn't see child abuse and its cover-up as that big a scandal (see Cardinal Martins).

Anonymous said...

Good point, the pastoral reasons for canonization are very important, so slowing it down may be good. However I like to see saints canonized who were noted to have their limitations, but were very sincere in how they strove to imitate him- it gives us even more hope for ourselves. Even then, later may be better.

Anon. 12:30PM

Anonymous said...

"to imitate him" by him I mean't Christ.

Anonymous said...

Are you proposing to de-canonize all saints who thought slavery was a normal feature of life, as did most people in those days?

Anonymous said...

No, I don't think there is a de-canonnization process, is there?

I would not hold up any slavery-supporting saints as exhibitors of heroic virtue to my children, though, either.

Nobody ever said we shouldn't take into account the culture in which people live. The problem is that JPII lived in a culture that was trying to bring this terrible abuse of children and cover-ups by hierarchy of same to the light, but he either wouldn't or couldn't listen to the victims.

I say, why a fast-track canonization of such a man? Let the passage of time give us a clearer picture of what really happened during the reign of JPII.

Canonization means more than just declaring a person holy and in heaven. It is a holding up of a person as a Catholic Hero. In today's culture, holding a person who couldn't listen to the cries of the victims of abusive priests and shuffling bishops up as a Catholic Hero would be a scandal.

That's all I'm saying. Let's give it some time.

Anonymous said...

"I would not hold up any slavery-supporting saints as exhibitors of heroic virtue to my children, though, either."
Good for you.
The point is, nevertheless, that even people like Saint Peter Claver, 'the slaves' slave', never even queeried the institution of slavery. It was just taken for granted.
And do not come and tell me that slavery is something 'lighter' than rape...

Anonymous said...

The point is that plenty of people both within and without the Catholic Church WERE questioning the institution of secrecy and clericalism and how it may have been contributing to the covering-up and shuffling around of pedophile priests.

And JPII was either unable or unwilling to listen to them. Thus, I am not in favor of a quickie canonization; I can't see how it can hurt to allow the passage of time to give more perspective to the issue and JPII's reaction to it.

If Peter Claver had lived in a time when all sorts of people were questioning the horror of the institution of slavery (in which I have no doubt many, many children were the victims of sexual abuse and pedophilia), but he refused to listen to the cries of the victims and instead chose to call those who would question the Church's role in the acceptance of slavery attackers of the Church, I have no doubt plenty of people would have been scandalized by his rapid canonization. Nor would I have been holding him up as an example of a Holy Hero for my children.

Truly, I have no idea why anybody finds it so strange to think it might be wise to slow down the Canonization of JPII Bandwagon and let time lend some perspective to the whole saga and JPIIs part in it. After all, this whole fast-track canonization process is rather new, isn't it? What's the big rush?