Thursday, May 08, 2014

Pope Paul VI to be beatified: Why some fret about this

"Pope Paul VI to be beatified after miracle confirmation" (CT, May 8, 2014):
A miraculous healing of an unborn child, following prayers to Pope Paul VI, has been confirmed as genuine by the Vatican, paving the way for the former Pope to be beatified.
The up-side of this is the miraculous cure of the unborn child and the prospect that yet another pope, although once a sinner like all of us, may soon be known to be in heaven.

The down-side of this is that if the Church's act of canonization is not primarily about assuring the faithful that the deceased is in heaven, but rather about proposing him as a model of heroic virtue (as previously noted HERE and HERE), this act will almost surely be interpreted by some as practically calculated to undermine their confidence in the Church and drive them into schism.

What do I mean? Quite simply that many Catholics, whatever their reasons, are going to have serious qualms about Paul VI being elevated to the Church's altars as a model of heroic virtue. Some may even have what Fr. John Zuhlsdorff calls a "spittle flecked nutty."

Who? Since 2005, when the notorious renegade priest Joseph S. O'Leary made a number of unsubstantiated accusations about Pope Paul VI (far worse than THIS) that struck me as malicious, it has come to my attention that there are quite a few Catholics -- ranging from troubled but faithful individuals with considered opinions (like Alice von Hildebrand) to inhabitants of fever swamps bordering on schism -- that will be sorely tested by the prospect of Paul VI's canonization.

Let me be clear that I am not endorsing the objections raised from these various quarters. I have not investigated many of them in any serious detail. My purpose here is not to examine and evaluate them, but simply to note their fairly wide-spread existence, which I believe is a legitimate concern.

In light of this, as argued previously (HERE and HERE) concerning the recent canonizations of John Paul II and John XXIII, the prudent course would seem -- as in the case of Pius XII -- to avoid fast-tracking canonizations as long as significant doubts trouble the faithful and even the world beyond. (Catholic journalist Brett M. Decker, for instance, recently declared that "canonizing pontiffs from the era of abuse is not only tone deaf but also exposes a continuing, stubborn refusal to acknowledge the institutional coverup that occurred for decades and that those at the highest levels — including popes — didn't do enough to prevent the crimes, enabling the crisis to continue.")

What are the objections regarding Paul VI? They range across a host of issues, including claims of modernism, indecisiveness, contradictory declarations, rupture with liturgical tradition, association with Freemasonry and Marxism and homosexuality.

Related:At the same time, we must bear in mind that it was Paul VI, as one of my colleagues describes in detail, who warned of the "smoke of Satan" entering the Church, who spoke of the Church going through a "mysterious process of auto-demolition," and who must be credited with writing the encyclical Humanae Vitae in a climate ill-disposed to receive it.

Let us pray for the Church, that God will give her leaders wisdom; and let us pray for Pope Paul VI in the hope that, when the time comes, we may be confident of his prayers for us and for the Church of our Lord, which has suffered such confusion, disaffection, dissent, and defection since the advent of his new Mass and Pope John's Council preceding it.


JM said...

People will not have "spittle flecked nutty" in Paul VI is raised to the altar. They will simply give in to the unavoidable conclusion that though the modern Church is in fact the Church, it has all but nullified itself by turning its back on Truth. Sort of like a relative who retains blood relation but has all but remade themselves into unrecognizability. At some point the proceedings become simply too bogus to even give attention to. Paul VI a saint is laughable unless *all* the reported material is false. Really, it's like the inside circle at the Vatican is simply now awarding all its alumni gold cards and key club memberships at the expense of the credibility of the process. All while the world gushes at the new humility! Even the "Smoke of Satan" comment loses its punch when you understand he meant nothing like what faithful Catholics think he meant, but only that his reformist schemes were being stalled by the infighting. Seriously, you have to be more than a little willfully deluded to think that Vatican II is more than a 50 percent good thing, or that Pope Paul was more than 50 percent worth celebrating. If the Church leaders keep on this road it is going to be impossible to view them as little more than once-respectable figures who long ago turned into film-flam men. And Catholic bloggers are incensed over Sarah Palin? I can't go along with their pretend game anymore. It's simply too lame.

Anon. said...
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Anon. said...
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Anon. said...

Some of the charges are serious. The New Oxford Review article says:

"Engel says that Paul VI was a homosexual, and she gives evidence for this. Engel says that "Pope Paul VI played a decisive role in the selection and advancement of many homosexual members of the American hierarchy...."

I'm wondering what sources she uses. Do you know?

Chris said...


I'm willing to believe that Pope Paul VI is in heaven, but I'm also cognizant of the fact that a public canonization is more than a declaration that an individual is in heaven. It is a declaration that this person is worthy of veneration and emulation.

One does not emulate St. Augustine's dissolute life, of course, but one celebrates God's mercy and Augustine's transformation.

One does not emulate Mary Magdalene's life as one who dabbled in the occult (hence, the possession?) or her dissolution (hence, being caught in adultery) but one celebrates her as a penitent.

On which grounds, perhaps, would one mark Pope Saint Paul VI?

Sheldon said...

Most saints on the Church's calendar were not recognized as saints, much less canonized (when they were), until many years (even centuries) after their deaths. It was some time before St. Augustine, who died in AD 430, was "canonized" by popular acclaim, and he wasn't declared a Doctor of the Church until 1298 by Pope Boniface VIII.

I personally find offensive the rush of saint-making we've had since the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, not to mention the recent canonizations. These things ought to be given time to settle.

Especially if saints are canonized as models of heroic virtue, the world ought to be given time for these virtues to clearly emerge. The only way we identify "classics" in literature, art, or music, is by the test of time. There can be no such thing as a "classic" manufactured within a person's lifetime, much less a decade or two.

What will we be doing next, canonizing Pope Francis on his deathbed for his photo-op gestures of humility?