Thursday, February 10, 2011

Beatification and Canonization...

Are they infallible acts of the pope?

This question came popping out after my post about the icon of the soon to be Blessed John Paul II.

Check this for answersThis one is also interesting.

Now, there are those commenting that John Paul should not be beatified because he did not govern the Church well and thus was to blame for the sex abuse scandal.

But are these things to be considered in a beatification/canonization process?

Here is my two cents worth...

ALL OF US are fallible and can commit mistakes.

But will this hinder us from going to Heaven?

This is going to be a long debate and I will reserve my blog post for this one.

Chime in your thoughts.

But first... read the articles!


  1. John Paul II would be a saint by now if we still had canonization by acclamation. But that is something now only for the history books and for good reason. Sainthood is based on a recognition of heroic sanctity and not political acumen!

    The Church now has in place a rigorous process for canonization and this has puzzled Protestants for ages. However what has happened in recent times is that Popes tend to dispense with the waiting period and this has given rise concerns that more than sanctity is involved but political concessions to factions in the Church.

    When Fr Josemaria Escriva was canonized, John Paul was criticized for overtly pandering to the Opus Dei and speeding up the process and some did raise concerns (mostly unfounded that St Escriva supported the Fascists)

    In contrast it took the English Catholic (and some in the Anglican) Church 120 years to get Cardinal Newman beatified. For so long Rome thought England was not really in the centre of things in the Catholic world.

    Waiting for 120 years was in a big sense wise. It took that time for the Anglican Church establishment to recognize Newman's heroic sanctity which is SHARED by both communions. It also took that time to forever dispel the suspicions of traditionalist Catholics that Newman was a closet modernist! The Anglican Communion today honours Newman as a holy man worthy of commemoration. So when Benedict XVI beatified Newman last Sept 2010, the universal church in England, Catholic, Anglican and Protestant gave thanks to the Lord for giving such a theologian to England.

    There is wisdom in taking our time in really recognizing saints. My problem with the John Paul II beatification is that it is too soon. Why not wait for 20 to 30 years? By then we who saw him in WYD, would be old and benefiting from his witness on how to grow old and live!

    I believe traditionalists have the right to disagree with John Paul II's theology or pastoral approach. But to accuse him of heresy for kissing the Quran or saying a silent prayer in the Grand Mosque, wearing a feathered headdress at a Mass in Brazil etc is downright disrespectful. Traditionalists should consider these expressions within the context of the decrees of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. There are some "traddies" which I consider as Ecumenical council "cafeteria" Catholics. They only choose the council that suits them! All Catholics are obliged to accept the decrees of all the ecumenical councils as binding, Ephesus, Constantinople, Trent and Vatican II included!

    John Paul II in his encyclicals was faithful to Catholic teaching even if his politics was to be debated upon (and that includes canonizations of so many saints!).

    John Paul II was a man like all of us. He was fallible in many respects except in the magisterial grace that God has given him. His heroic virtue on how to grow old and celebration of how it is to really live and be shown the path to eternal life remains in my mind. For that heroic witness in a relativistic world that considers life as an ordinary thing that we have complete power over, he is certainly a saint!

  2. This is my comment on the idea that only the Roman Catholic Church can canonize "true" saints and those canonized by other churches as "dubious".

    The Catholic Church does not pass judgment if the saints of the Orthodox, Copts, Orientals, Ethiopians etc are worthy of veneration or not. She just knows that her saints are raised primarily for the edification of her faithful. Thus in one post Vatican II moment, the Lutherans went to Rome and asked a congregation of the causes of the saints to raise Reverend Dr Dietrich Bonhoeffer for veneration. The cardinal in charge did not object to the idea (knowing Bonhoffer's heroic virtue in Christian witness against the monstrous evil of Nazism) but politely suggested that it would be better if the Lutherans did the honours themselves. Rome would not object nor tell her faithful not to emulate or be inspired by Pastor Bonhoeffer. Thus if the Lutherans did this, for all intents and purposes for all Christians Bonhoeffer is a saint. But he is not a Catholic saint but a saint of and for the Lutherans.

    So if a Roman Catholic is brought to conversion and thus to Jesus by a bloke named Pontius Pilate ( a saint of the Ethiopian Church), the Catholic Church would be happy!

    And nothing prevents a Catholic from seeking the intercession of Saint Andrei Rublev of the Russian Church or St King Charles I the Martyr (the only formally canonized saint of the Anglican Church). In fact we have had Catholic Mass in EDSA shrine with St Rublev's famous icon at the back of the altar. In a papal address to visiting Russian Orthodox bishops, John Paul II gave thanks to God for St Rublev's sanctity but he never called him a saint in deference to the Orthodox. But he referred to him as holy artist of many icons.

    God can lead us to conversion by unexpected means!

  3. Again, concerning my previous comments. It is my belief that the pope is infallible when he declares one is already in heaven. But as to the determination whether such person has lived a life of heroic virtue, the pope or the church is not free from error. Nevertheless, the Church's infallibility is a negative act that protects the official declaration of the pope that such a person has made it to the Beatific Vision - and NOT whether he or she is the perfect example in living the Christian life. Again, infallibility is not a comprehensive grace that ensures all aspect of a proclamation to be accurate (a Protestant misconception). But that a specific view (e.g. John Paul II is now in heaven), is in fact true.

    That being said, it is also my belief that my view on the infallibility of canonizations is NEITHER infallible, or part of the DE FIDE, sine quo haereticus es - dogma of the Catholic Church. Hence, it is then prudent if we go to what Tradition or history as always perceived concerning the matter. A pious belief. And wait 'till the Church (if she sees the need to arise) to bind our conscience in believing that the infallibility of canonizations are de fide - part of the Deposit of Faith. Until then let's avoid the name calling viz. heretics and what not.

  4. Personally, I wish the cause of John Paul II had waited. There are others I should wish to see raised to the altar first (Bl. Margaret of Castello, for example, has been waiting for nearly seven centuries). But in terms of whether his governance ought to disqualify the late Pope for beatification, I think it need not necessarily. Consider the opposing examples of Pope St. Celestine V and Pope Alexander VI. Celestine's pontificate was disastrous out of all proportion to its brevity, and yet, he was a holy man and is now venerated as a saint. Alexander VI, on the other hand, was a very capable pope from the point of view of governance, but sinned openly and notoriously. There are plenty of factors that could be cited to excuse the incompetence of Celestine V, but the point is that able governance is not necessarily dispositive of the question of heroic virtue.