Friday, 21 November 2008

Holy Fathers

Am I alone in thinking that too many popes have their causes for canonization/beatification introduced? I read yesterday that Pope John Paul I's cause is progressing nicely. Surely one saint and one beatus is enough for the occupants of one job during the course of one century? It gets a little bit redolent of the early Roman Empire when all emperors were pretty well automatically deified at their death by decree of the Senate (and some of them even before they died). So, Pius XII, John XXIII, John Paul I, and John Paul II are all being considered for canonization/beatification. That is to say, all but one of the Popes since 1939. It begins to say more about those they don't beatify than about those they do. It begins to present beatification as a perk of the job. All those Popes were admirable men. Can't we just leave it there?

6 comments:

Gregor said...

Dear Father,

for my part, I'm a bit torn on the question. I agree with you that the impression it causes is perhaps unfortunate, but on the other hand, I personally do think all of them were Saints. Should the Church, if She comes to the same conclusion, refrain from recognising this truth only because of a maybe unfortunate impression? In any case, to make matters worse, if you will: there is actually, I believe, also a cause for Paul VI. Furthermore, I remember that Pius XII was quite keen on canonising Pius XI, but the cause was not concluded before 1958 and seems not to have been pursued since then.

PeterHWright said...

I have been thinking more or less the same thing. I don't understand this modern (and I think it is very modern) policy of beatifying and canonising so many people so soon after their deaths.

Oh, they were undoubtedly very holy people. Think of Blessed Mother Teresa.

But what of Fr. Werenfried von Straaten, founder of Aid to the Church in Need ? Was he not a very holy man who did great work for the Church ?

And then I think of Popes Leo XIII, Benedict XV and Pius XI. Were they not good and holy men ?

It could be argued that there have been too many canonisations in recent years.

Ottaviani said...

The "saint factory" (as it was known in the pontificate of JP II) has really gone out of control. Of all the popes mentioned by Fr, I can only think of one who is worthy of canonization and that is really because Padre Pio said that he saw him in Heaven after his death (I leave you to guess which one).

Gregor - the cause of Paul VI would never advance. It was blow out of the water long ago, after a priest went public with a dossier of the misdemeanors of his pontificate. And beside, the liberals (bishops included) could never stand it if the church canonized the man who wrote Humanae Viate - one of the only good things to come out of Paul VI.

The problem is that we have lost the sense of what canonization really is. Of the 261 Popes that have been around, only 76 were ever canonized - the last being St. Pius X. We cannot ascribe sanctity to every Pope that makes us feel all warm and cosy within ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Ironically, I think one of the strongest candidates for beatification, and future canonization, omitted from this list is Pope Paul VI. What documentary evidence is there that his cause has been abandoned and he is no longer a Servant of God? I was reading a recent CTS pamphlet about him and he emerged as a man of heroic sanctity who kept the Church together in the explosive aftermath of Vatican II. For that alone he should be considered for beatification. Apparently his confessor is on record as saying he was a saint.

As for Pope John Paul I, apart from writing a letter to Pinocio, what else did he do? I would have thought that their foul tempers would exclude Pope Benedict XV and Pope Pius XI. Pope Pius XII probably does deserve it. The booklet on Pope Paul VI is quite good on him and his silence. It's too soon to beatify Pope John Paul II, although he, too, was probably a saint as history is likely to prove.

Ottaviani said...

I was reading a recent CTS pamphlet about him and he emerged as a man of heroic sanctity who kept the Church together in the explosive aftermath of Vatican II. For that alone he should be considered for beatification.

With all due respect, about 90% of the "explosive aftermath of Vatican II" can be either directly or indirectly attributed to Paul VI himself.

His refusal to discipline blatant heresies and put an end to sacrileges in the Eucharist is a testimony to history. Who can also forget how he persecuted some of the most faithful sons of the church (cf. Cardinals Mindszenty and Slipy - who suffered more at the hands of Paul VI, than the Communists imprisoning them) while conducting cordial relations with all sorts of enemies of the church?

A pope that used his power to suppress the traditional mass but not to suppress dissent against his own encyclical Humanae Vitae, is not worthy of beatification IMHO.

David said...

The diocesan process for beatification of Servant of God Paul VI began on May 11, 1993 by Pope John Paul II. So that's ALL of the Popes since WWII who are up for Canonization.

I really can't see it getting very far though, for the reasons set out by Ottaviani. Even Humanae Vitae, is in my respectful opinion, inferior in many respects to Pius XI's Casti Connubii, which was released almost immediately after the CofE permitted contraception. Moreover, expectations were allowed to run unchecked that Paul VI was going to change church teaching, leading indirectly to widespread defiance, and a tragic refusal to discipline the recalcitrants.

Indeed, much of the problems which bedevil the Church, even today, were fostered by Paul VI, usually though tragic indecision.

Oh, and don't forget his "rehabilitation" of Annibale Bugnini.