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A dilemma: canonizing Pope John Paul II

February 14, 2014

If Pope John Paul II is declared a saint, false ecumenism will be canonized. How then should we view saints such as Edmund Campion and Fidelis of Sigmaringen, or others—uncanonized—who have upheld the True Faith in the face of adversity?

The dilemma presented by John Paul II’s canonization

In the January 2014 issue (no. 372) of Courrier de Rome, Fr. Jean-Michel Gleize, professor of ecclesiology at St. Pius X Seminary in Econe, published a study entitled “John Paul II: a new saint for the Church?” After recalling that a canonization is infallible, he asked, “Are the new canonizations binding on all Catholic faithful?” and then “Can John Paul II be canonized?” quoting the Polish pope’s statements to Lutherans, Anglicans, the Orthodox, Jews and Moslems, as well as his remarks on religious liberty.

The following is Fr. Gleize’s epilogue.

If John Paul II is a saint, his theology must be irreproachable, down to the smallest detail. Indeed, the virtue of faith at heroic levels implies a perfect docility to the entire spirit of the Magisterium, and not only to the letter of the teachings of infallible Magisterium and to the lowest common denominator of mandatory dogmas.

If John Paul II is truly a saint, the Catholic faithful must recognize that the Catholic Church and the Orthodox communities are sister churches, responsible together for safeguarding the one Church of God[1]. They must therefore reprove the example of Josaphat Kuncewicz, archbishop of Polotsk (1580–1623). Converted from Orthodoxy, he published a Defence of the unity of the Church in 1617, in which he reproached the Orthodox for breaking the unity of the Church of God, exciting the hatred of these schismatics who martyred him.

If John Paul II is truly a saint, the Catholic faithful must recognize the Anglicans as brothers and sisters in Christ and express this recognition by praying together[2]. They must also condemn the example of Edmund Campion (1540–1581), who refused to pray with the Anglican minister, at the time of his martyrdom.

If John Paul II is truly a saint, the Catholic faithful must hold that what divides Catholics and Protestants—that is, the reality of the holy and propitiatory Sacrifice of the Mass, the reality of the universal mediation of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, the reality of the Catholic priesthood, the reality of the primacy of jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome—is minimal in comparison to that which unites them[3]. They must therefore condemn the example of the Capuchin Fidelis of Sigmaringen (1578–1622) who was martyred by the Protestant reformers, to whom he had been sent as a missionary and for whom he wrote a Disputatio against Protestant ministers, on the subject of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

If John Paul II is truly a saint, the Catholic faithful must recognize the value of the religious witness of the Jewish people[4]. They must then condemn the example of Pedro de Arbues (1440–1485), Grand Inquisitor of Aragon, who was martyred by Jews in hatred of the Catholic faith.

If John Paul II is truly a saint, the Catholic faithful must recognize that after the final resurrection, God will be satisfied with the Moslems and they will be satisfied with Him[5]. They must then condemn the example of the Capuchin Joseph of Leonessa (1556-1612) who worked without counting the cost in Constantinople among Christians reduced to slavery by the followers of Islam. His zeal caused him to be dragged before the sultan for insulting the Moslem religion and he spent three days hung from a set of gallows by a chain attached to hooks in one hand and one foot. Faithful Catholics should also deplore the example of St. Peter Mavimenus, who died in 715 after being tortured for three days for having insulted Mohammed and Islam.

If John Paul II is truly a saint, faithful Catholics must recognize that heads of state may not arrogate to themselves the right to prevent the public profession of a false religion[6]. They must therefore condemn the example of the French king Louis IX, who limited the public practice of non-Christian religions as much as he could.

However, Josaphat Kuncewicz was canonized in 1867 by Pius IX, and Pius XI dedicated an encyclical to him; the Church celebrates his feast on November 14th. Edmund Campion was canonized by Paul VI in 1970 and the Church honors him on December 1st. Fidelis of Sigmaringen was canonized in 1746 and Clement XIV designated him as the “protomartyr of the Propaganda” (of the Faith); his feast in the Church calendar is April 24th. Pedro de Arbues was canonized by Pius IX in 1867. Joseph of Leonessa was canonized in 1737 by Benedict XIV and his feast is celebrated in the Church on February 4th; Pius IX proclaimed him patron of the missions of Turkey. St. Peter Mavimenus, lastly, is honored in the Church on February 21. As for King St. Louis, his fairly well-known example is an ideal illustration of the teachings of St. Pius X, canonized as well. If John Paul II is truly a saint, all these saints were seriously mistaken and have given the whole Church not the example of authentic sanctity but the scandal of intolerance and fanaticism. It is impossible to avoid this dilemma.

The only way out is to draw the double conclusion that follows: Karol Wojtyla cannot be canonized and the act that would proclaim his sanctity in front of the Church could only be a false canonization.

(DICI no. 290, 14/02/14)

Footnotes

1 The Catholic Church and the Orthodox communities “recognize one another as Sister Churches, responsible together for safeguarding the one Church of God, in fidelity to the divine plan, and in an altogether special way with regard to unity.” John Paul II, Common Declaration Signed in the Vatican by Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Bartholomew I, June 29, 1995 (DC no. 2121, p. 734–735)

2 The Pope and the leader of the Anglicans give thanks to God “that in many parts of the world Anglicans and Catholics, joined in one baptism, recognize one another as brothers and sisters in Christ and give expression to this through joint prayer, common action and joint witness.” Common declaration of John Paul II and the Archbishop of Canterbury representing the Anglican Communion, signed Dec. 5, 1996 (DC no. 2152, pp. 88–89)

3 “The shared spiritual space overcomes many of the confessional barriers that still separate us from each other on the threshold of the third millennium. If in spite of the divisions we are able to present ourselves in an increasingly united way before Christ in prayer, we will realize more and more how small what divides us is in comparison to what unites us.” John Paul II, translated from the French version of his Address to Dr. Christian Krause, president of the World Lutheran Federation, December 9, 1999 (DC no. 2219, p. 109).

4 “Yes, with my voice, the Catholic Church (…) recognizes the value of your people’s witness.” John Paul II, translated from the French version of his Address to the Jewish community of Alsace, October 9, 1998, DC no. 1971, p. 1027.

5 “I believe that we, Christians and Moslems, we must recognize with joy the religious values that we have in common and give thanks to God. (…) We believe that God will be a merciful judge at the end of time and we hope that after the resurrection He will satisfied with us, and that we will be satisfied with Him.” John Paul II, translated from the French version of his Address on the occasion of meeting young people at the stadium of Casablanca, August 18, 1985, DC 1903, p. 945.

6 “The State cannot claim authority, direct or indirect, over a person’s religious convictions. It cannot arrogate to itself the right to impose or to impede the profession or public practice of religion by a person or a community.” John Paul II, Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace 1988, Dec. 8th, 1987 (DC no. 1953, p. 2)

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