News Flash: John Paul, Pius, Mary, Jerzy and Mary

Lots of news from the Congregation of the Causes of the Saints today:

Pope John Paul II has been declared "Venerable," which had been expected for some time.  So has Pope Pius XII, which was not expected (though is not terribly surprising given the comments coming from the Vatican relating to his cause of late).  Both of them were declared as possessing the "heroic virtue."  The declaration of Pius's "heroic virtue" has already caused consternation among some Jewish groups. 

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Also, as expected, the final miracle required for the canonization of Mother Mary MacKillop, the formerly excommunicated Australian nun, has been approved, making her the first Australian saint.  (See post below for more on her story.) 

And Jerzy Popieluszko, the Polish priest murdered in 1984 by the Polish Secret Service, was declared a martyr.  (For beatification, a martyr's cause does not require a miracle.) 

But there was a lot more in the declaration from the Congregation of the Causes of the Saints, which got lost in the hubbub over the more high-profile causes.  For example, Mary Ward, (pictured above) foundress of the Loreto Sisters, who was actually put on trial before the Inquisition, is now on the road to canonization, having also been declared as leading a life of "heroic virtue."  The stories of both MacKillop and Ward are, frankly, astonishing.

By reading the full text of the declaration one can see how holiness can take many forms: two of those who led lives of "heroic virtue" were popes, overseeing the church's hierarchy.  Two others, sisters, were excommunicated and investigated, that is, they were women who found themselves in direct conflict with the hierarchy. 

Holiness comes in many forms.

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7 years 11 months ago
Padre: What role do you think the sexual abuse scandal, and John Paul II's turning away from it, will play, in the reaction of some, toward what must now be steps toward Canonization? I believe that Brett has raised the question of how we reconcile John Paul II with the scandal. He also raised the issue of conservative Catholics who, essentially, seem to laud John Paul II without, at the same time, adckowedling that JPII turned away from these children.

I remember I was reading a breathtaking, historical account of the abuse, by a New York journalist, when they announced JP II's death. I was struck by the dichotomy of this goodness and, what? I have not been able to reconcile JPII's otherwise, obvious to me, heroic and saintly goodnes, with his abandonment of these children. Yet, it remains a vexing moral dilemma to me. It cannot be denied that he turned his back on these children, against whom the most grievous sin was committed. I would be interested in your thoghts. Thanks.
David Patrick
7 years 11 months ago
Maria, until you and others who wish to sound “Fair and Balnaced” can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Pope John Paul II "turned away from these children" "abandoned these children" and "turned his back on these children", you should stop throwing stones at a good man.
Your accusation is an assertion and nothing more.
If the standard against which you want to judge others is “what one didn’t do” however much evidence is available, be careful because as far as God is concerned, you’re already guilty.
7 years 11 months ago
I am no wishing to sound any particular way. And I am just genuinely trying to understand. Do you think we have evidence that John Paul II did not turn his back on these abused children?
7 years 11 months ago
David: I would also, btw, identify myself as a conservative Catholic, for what it is worth.
7 years 11 months ago
Thank you, Padre. This was very helpful and makes perfect sense.
7 years 11 months ago
Thank you, Padre. This was very helpful and makes perfect sense.
Liam Richardson
7 years 11 months ago
Unlike the mainstream media, who will focus on popes, the star of this weekend's proceedings from a Catholic perspective would be Fr Jerzy. Martyrdom is the palm and crown of sainthood from a Catholic perspective, and it's interesting that most of the MSM has forgotten Fr Jerzy or rendered him a footnote. We as Catholics should not follow its lead in that regard.
7 years 11 months ago
You will need to fogive my plebian curiousity, along with the MSM.
7 years 11 months ago
NB The above is signed by Maria, not Liam.
7 years 11 months ago
I just cringe at Pius XII becoming a saint, given his lack of speaking out against the Holocaust.  Nice to see some excommunicated women religious, though  :)
Robert Lynch
7 years 11 months ago
Whatever the merits of these candidates, the glaring deficiency of the list is the total absence of any lay person.  We didn't really need the reminder of our place in today's church.
A modest proposal:  I think a wise policy would be never to canonize any Popes.  I suspect this policy may have been an unspoken one previously applied? 
As you state in your later post, there's no such thing as a perfect candidate for sainthood, but candidates from the Papacy, by it's very nature, are always going to open to so much partisan advocacy, especially soon after death.  If Pius XII and JPII, why not John XXIII?
Thomas Piatak
7 years 11 months ago
Father Martin,

Fr. Jerzy's last name is Popieluszko, not ''Popieluszco.'' I just thought you'd like to know.
MARY JO LILLY
7 years 11 months ago
Yes, of course, Liam, I'd forgotten about John XXIII and yes, we may never get there, and I think some benign neglect would not hurt.
Liam Richardson
7 years 11 months ago
As for the issue of canonizing Popes: please note that canonization and beatification are rare for popes after the period when they assumed considerable temporal powers.
The papacy's temporal influence dramatically declined during the 18th century, to the point that Napoleon was able to imprison and move two successive popes (Pius VI and Pius VII). A few popes later followed the rather agonizing end of the post-Napoleonic Papal States. As the popes' temporal influence waned, so the expectation of the pope as a holy man revived after many centuries of abeyance (while the office was holy, for many centuries no one considered seriously the idea that popes would regularly be men of enormous and obvious personal sanctity - such men would have been considered exceptional). With that, we see a resurgence in interest in raising some of them to the altars. Given the institutional powers at play, I think popes should restrain themselves in raising their predecessors to the altars; perhaps at least a wait of 100 years would be prudent (and prudence is that most Roman of virtues).
Liam Richardson
7 years 11 months ago
John XXIII was beatified in 2000. Pius XII and JPII have yet even to go through the miracle vetting process to warrant consideration for beatification, and may never get there....
 
Eric Stoltz
7 years 11 months ago
I too am greatly concerned by the trend of seemingly automatic canonization for anyone elected pope. This is highly dangerous. If it is assumed that every pope has a right to be canonized, which is basically where we are now, then the papal cult will grow uncontrollably, with each pope assumed to become a living saint upon election.
 
Of course the Vatican is only to happy to oblige with a canonization process for every recent pope. It can only help to further consolidate power; who would object to being ordered around by a living saint?
 
Somebody has got to end this madness. The canonization process is out of control and will soon become entirely discredited among all but the most superstitious and those who seize upon it to win validation for their own idealogical positions.
Michael Maiale
7 years 11 months ago
Crystal,
Failure to speak out on the Holocaust?  Pius XII was one of the first to denounce Hitler.  He worked actively to save thousands of Jews and did what he could to cooperate with the Allies to see Hitler defeated.
Robert Lynch
7 years 11 months ago
A quick “google” of canonized Popes comes up with an article which lists just under 80 canonized and beatified Popes.  The canonized ones described as “recent” are:

Saint Leo IX (1049-1054)
Saint Gregory VII (1073-85)
Saint Celestine V (1294)
Saint Pius V (1566-72)
Saint Pius X (1903-14)

My earlier speculation that there has been a general trend against canonizing Popes was based on the factoid recalled from my childhood that it was exceptional that Pius X was canonized and that no other “recent” Popes had been canonized.  The list, if accurate, would seem to support my guess.
John Allen in NCR has echoed a thought I had yesterday but did not add to my blog:  that since one of the consepts behind formal canonization is to hold up some people as particular exemplars and give them more notice as such than most of the crowd of uncanonized people we consider uncanonized saints, what's the point of doing that with a Pope, expecially one of recent vintage, and in our information-saturated times, as if they need even more notice?
Robert Lynch
7 years 11 months ago
Sorry, meant my post, I don't have a blog;  I let youze guyz do the heavy work.

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