Remnant's reservations on beatifying John Paul II

The Remnant is an American Catholic newspaper, headed by Michael J. Matt. Independent from the Society of St. Pius X, it issued a "Statement of Reservation concerning the upcoming beatification of John Paul II”, on March 21, 2011, which paints a damning situation of the Church after Vatican II.

The analysis of the entire pontificate of John Paul II joins that of the SSPX, even if some judgments show some leniency. Here are some extracts of this interesting article. We thank Michael Matt for his kind authorization to publish these lengthy extracts.

Extract from The Remnant: 3-21-2011

Statement of reservations concerning impending beatification of Pope John Paul II

…But not only the liturgy was in a state of collapse by the end of the last pontificate.  As we noted at the beginning of this Statement, on Good Friday 2005, just before ascending to the Chair of Peter himself, the former Cardinal Ratzinger remarked: “How much filth there is in the Church, even among those who, in the priesthood, should belong entirely to Him.” [Cf. “Homily for Good Friday Mass,” 2005].  The “filth” to which the Cardinal referred was of course an unbelievable number of sexual scandals involving unspeakable acts by Catholic priests, erupting in nations around the globe—the harvest of decades of “conciliar renewal” in the seminaries.

Instead of disciplining the bishops who fostered this filth in their seminaries, covered it up by moving sexual predators from place to place, and then bankrupted their dioceses by paying civil settlements, John Paul II provided safe haven for several of the most egregiously negligent prelates. Perhaps the most notable example is Cardinal Bernard Law.

Forced to testify before a grand jury concerning his gross negligence in failing to address rampant homosexual predation of young boys by priests in the Archdiocese of Boston, which resulted in $100 million in civil settlements to more than 500 victims, Law’s “punishment” by the Pope, after his disgraced resignation as Archbishop, was to be brought to Rome and awarded one of the city’s four magnificent patriarchal basilicas over which to preside as Archpriest.

And what of Archbishop Weakland, the notorious theological dissenter who admitted in a deposition that he deliberately returned homosexual predators in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to active priestly ministry without warning parishioners or notifying the police of their crimes?  Having driven the Archdiocese into bankruptcy court on account of the resulting civil suits, Weakland ended his long career of undermining the integrity of faith and morals—to worldwide fawning publicity—only after the revelation that he misappropriated $450,000 in archdiocesan funds to pay off a man with whom he had had a homosexual affair. John Paul II allowed this thieving wolf of a bishop to retire with the full dignity of his high office in the Church, after which a Protestant publishing company published his memoirs: A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Memoirs of a Catholic Archbishop. An admiring reviewer writes that the book “portrays a man imbued with the values of the Second Vatican Council [who] had the courage to carry them forward both as Benedictine Abbot Primate and as Archbishop of Milwaukee.”

The “filth” that afflicted the Church during the last pontificate includes the long history of sexual predation by Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, supposedly the very exemplar of the “renewal” in action.

John Paul II refused to initiate any investigation into Maciel’s conduct despite mounting evidence of abominable crimes which, thanks to worldwide publicity, are now the most notorious ever committed by a Catholic cleric.

Paying no heed to the long-pending and widely known canonical charges against Maciel by eight of the Legionary seminarians he had sexually molested, John Paul lavishly honored him in a public ceremony at the Vatican in November 2004. Days later, however, then Cardinal Ratzinger “took it on himself to authorize an investigation of Maciel.” [Jason Berry, “Money Paved the Way for Maciel’s Influence in the Vatican,” National Catholic Reporter, April 6, 2010].

It was literally the case that John Paul had to die before Maciel could be disciplined. He was finally removed from active ministry and exiled to a monastery almost immediately after Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict. But this was only part of a pattern described by a prominent Catholic commentator:

[T]he high-flying John Paul let scandals spread beneath his feet, and the uncharismatic Ratzinger was left to clean them up. This pattern extends to other fraught issues that the last Pope tended to avoid—the debasement of the Catholic liturgy, or the rise of Islam in a once-Christian Europe." [Ross Douthat, “The Better Pope,” New York Times, April 11, 2010]

Another reason for reservation concerning this beatification is that throughout John Paul’s long pontificate faithful Catholics were bewildered and scandalized by numerous manifestly imprudent papal statements and gestures the likes of which the Church has never witnessed in 2000 years. To recall just a few of the more well-known examples:

  • The numerous theologically dubious apologies for the presumed sins of Catholics in prior epochs of Church history.
  • The Assisi gatherings of October 1986 and January 2002.
  • The Pope’s public kissing of the Koran during the 1999 visit to Rome of a group of Iraqi Christians and Muslims.
  • The astonishing exclamation of March 21, 2000 in the Holy Land: “May St. John the Baptist protect Islam and all the people of Jordan...” [Cf. “Papal Homily in the Holy Land,”].
  • The bestowal of pectoral crosses—symbols of episcopal authority—on George Carey and Rowan Williams.
  • Pope John Paul’s active participation in pagan worship at a “sacred forest” in Togo.
  • The “ecumenical” vespers service in St. Peter’s Basilica, the very heart of the visible Church, in which the Pope consented to pray together with Lutheran “bishops”, including women claiming to be successors of the Apostles.

…A miracle open to doubt

Finally, we cannot fail to note that the lone miracle on which the entire beatification is premised—the reported cure of a French nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, said to be suffering from Parkinson’s disease—is open to question.

For one thing, the very diagnosis of Parkinson’s leaves room for doubt absent the only definitive test known to medical science: an autopsy of the brain. Other conditions subject to spontaneous remission can mimic Parkinson’s. For another, the nexus between the purported cure of the nun and a “night of prayers to John Paul II” seems dubious. Did the prayers for this nun exclude the invocation of any and all recognized saints?

Compare the two miracles—it was John Paul himself who reduced the requirement to only one—that Pius XII deemed sufficient for the beatification of Pius X. The first involved a nun who had bone cancer and was cured instantaneously after a relic of Pius X was placed on her chest. The second involved a nun whose cancer disappeared when she touched a relic statue of Pius. No such indisputable connection exists between the purported cure in this case and any putative relic of John Paul II.

There is no question here of the infallible teaching authority of the Church; the assessment of this lone miracle is a judgment of medical fact subject to the possibility of error. Imagine the damage to the Church’s credibility should this nun eventually suffer a return of her symptoms. In fact, in March of last year the Rzeczpospolita daily, one of Poland’s most respected newspapers, reported that there had been some return of symptoms and that one of the two medical consultants had expressed doubts about the purported miracle. This report prompted the former head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, to reveal to press that “It could be that one of the two medical consultants perhaps had some doubts. And this, unfortunately, leaked out.” Martins further revealed that “the doubts would require further investigation. In such cases, he said, the Congregation would ask more doctors to come in and offer an opinion.” [Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, “John Paul II ‘Miracle’ Further Scrutinized,” March 28, 2010]

One doctor doubted the miracle, and when his doubts “leaked out” unexpectedly other doctors were brought in—and this less than a year ago! Have we really been presented with the kind of indubitably miraculous cures recognized by Pius XII in the beatification of Pius X?

The probable consequences of this act

We must also express our deep concern over the predictable exploitation of this beatification by the cunning forces of world opinion…

Yet we can be certain, should the beatification proceed as scheduled, that powerful sectors of the mass media will not waste a moment in holding it up as an example of the Church’s “hypocrisy,” ineptitude and cronyism in so honoring the Pope who presided over the pedophilia scandal and refused to discipline the evil founder of the Legionaries. On the latter subject there is already a book-length exposé and film: Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II, which documents how Maciel was protected by the Pope’s key advisors, including Cardinal Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Martínez, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and Cardinal Dziwisz, now Archbishop of Cracow, who was John Paul’s secretary and closest confidant.


In the midst of what Sister Lucia of Fatima rightly called “diabolical disorientation” in the Church we are especially mindful that beatification is not at all within the charism of infallibility. It does not establish an obligatory cult but merely permission to venerate the beatus if one wishes. In this case, therefore, we face the real possibility of a grave error in prudential judgment provoked by contingent circumstances, including popularity and affection, that ought not to influence the essential process of careful investigation and deliberation—especially in the case of this beatification, with all its implications for the universal Church.

Again we ask: Why the haste?  Is there perhaps a fear that unless the act is performed immediately the more mature verdict of history might preclude beatification, as it surely did in the case of Paul VI?  If so, why not let the verdict be rendered in keeping with the long view the Church has generally taken in the matter of beatification or canonization? If even a giant like St. Pius V was not canonized until 140 years after his death, can we not wait at least a few more years in order to assess the pontifical legacy that ought to figure most prominently in the decision to beatify John Paul II?

Can the Church not wait even the 37 years that elapsed between the death of Pius X and his beatification by Pius XII in 1951 (followed by the canonization of 1954)? Indeed, is it prudent to beatify now—without further assessment and on the basis of a lone miracle whose authenticity is open to doubt—a pope whose legacy is admittedly marked by the rampant spread of the very evil St. Pius X heroically opposed and defeated in his time?

For all of these reasons, we believe it is just and appropriate to implore the Holy Father to defer the beatification of John Paul II to a time when the grounds for that solemn act may be assessed objectively and dispassionately in the light of history. The good of the Church can only be served by a prudent delay, whereas it can only be placed at risk by a hasty process not protected from error by the charism of the Church’s infallible Magisterium.

Our Lady, Queen of Wisdom, Virgo Prudentissima, pray for us!

Michael J. Matt
Editor/Publisher, The Remnant