Monday, November 16, 2020

Revoke "Sainthood" For Pope John Paul II ? It Should Have Been Done Long Ago

 The suspicion by many that Pope John Paul II  was rushed into sainthood is now confirmed after the Vatican  released an extraordinary report this past week. (Sunday Denver Post, 'Report Casts John Paul II In Harsh Light', p. 19A)  It laid the blame for the advancement of the disgraced former prelate Theodore E. McCarrick at John Paul's door.  As I already noted, this McCarrick scandal also has reinforced the position of scientific Materialism in relation to the supernaturalist hokum pushed by the Church, e.g.

The Vatican investigation, commissioned by Pope Francis (who canonized John Paul in 2014), revealed how this miracle-less Polish icon chose not to believe longstanding accusations of sexual abuse against McCarrick, including pedophilia, allowing him to climb the hierarchy’s  canonization ladder.  It will stand out as one of the greatest travesties and whitewashes in RC Church history - along with the assassination of Pope John Paul I  in 1978  (See 'In God's Name' - by David Yallop)  and the Vatican's assistance in helping S.S. criminals escape along "Ratlines" to South America after WW II.

'The new findings detailed decades of bureaucratic obfuscation and lack of accountability by a host of top prelates and threatened to sully the white robes of three popes. But most of all, critics say, it provides searing proof that the church moved with reckless speed to canonize John Paul and now it is caught in its own wreckage.

So now we know why, days after John Paul's death in 2005, the cardinals eager to uphold his conservative policies had already begun discussing putting him on a fast track to sainthood.  This was while devotees in Rome and beyond clamored for his immediate canonization, drowning out notes of caution from survivors of sexual abuse and historians that John Paul had persistently turned a blind eye to the crimes in his church.

Kathleen Cummings, author of A Saint of Our Own  and the head of a center on U.S. Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame pulls no punches when she states:

"He was canonized too fast,” 

She said that given the “really damning evidence,” in the report, had the church waited at least five years, and not mere days, to begin the canonization process “it would probably not have begun for John Paul II because of his complicity in the clergy sex abuse scandal.”

A reversal of saint canonization is claimed by some Church historians to be "hard to recall ever happening" if not implausible. However, in 1969 Pope Paul VI  officially removed 93 saints from the Church's universal liturgical calendar.  True, most of these (like St. Christopher) were removed because they may never have existed.  But again Paul's decision shows there is at least a precedent for the move.  Also, that extreme caution is needed when supernatural standards are applied to simple mortal humans - often with feet of clay-  and subject to absurd hyping of their accomplishments.   In JP  II's case he doesn't even appear to have met the saintly standard of performing one single miracle.

For those who may not know (or even care) "beatification" requires Church certification of at least one bone fide "miracle" to be confirmed, as part of the path to full sainthood. This is no mean task, and there's no evidence whatever that ANY of the recent "saints" canonized have fulfilled that requirement, including "Mother Therese"  (Who actually engendered more earthly suffering by keeping her charges in a passive caretaking situation rather than really ministering to their health deficiencies and problems.)

Specifically, the Church - according to one pundit- "demands an old-fashioned, abracadabra -type of miracle such as a vision before a Catholic businessman as he's about to perform an illegal insider trade".

Note, however, that the standard path to sainthood has always required two "miracles".  But in the case of John Paul II, even the first one attributed to him looks suspect. The original claim involves one Sister Marie Simon -Pierre (a nun of the Congregation of the Little Sisters) from Parkinson's Disease. The claim is that Sr. Simon-Pierre awakened one morning, two months after John Paul's death, to discover all her symptoms were gone. She insisted she'd prayed to the dead Pope and he "answered my prayers".

Maybe, but maybe not! While she did remain symptom-free there are loads more possible explanations for her recovery than that some dead pontiff performed or enabled a "miracle". The most plausible is that she never had Parkinson's disease in the first place. The only objective clinical diagnosis, in fact, rests on the pathology and identification of the accumulation of alpha-synuclein protein forming inclusions called Lewy bodies.

Since this identification requires autopsy, it means that at the very least the beatification phase ought to have been postponed until after Sr. Simon-Pierre's death. (In which case, canonization would be postponed even longer.) Then, careful examination ought to have revealed the abatement or diminution of the Lewy bodies. In addition, such examination would confirm she had Parkinson's rather than some other condition.

According to one AP report from 7 years ago: "Vatican-sponsored doctors simply determined that her cure had no known scientific explanation". But under pressure from the Vatican, how hard did they really look? Specifically, was there an actual examination of the nun's brain for the presence of diminished Lewy Bodies . That would confirm: a) she did have Parkinson's and b) that the primary source (Lewy bodies) had retreated. Then, the Vatican's medical experts or others could search the archives for any similar cases. If they existed, then what happened to the nun was not a miracle, merely an unusual and improbable happenstance.   

Back to the Vatican report of the McCarrick travesty in relation to John Paul II. The report shows that Pope Benedict XVI told McCarrick to "keep a low profile"  when more allegations of abuse emerged in 2005. Pope Francis, despite hearing rumors of the abuse from his top lieutenants, trusted that his predecessors had properly vetted the case and left it alone, the report found.

Francis has also acknowledged his own failures in believing bishops over victims. He removed McCarrick from the priesthood and has in recent years instituted new church policies to increase accountability.  All of these ought to have been exhaustively laid out - not to mention the miracle tests - before commencing any process of beatification.

Some historians now say the McCarrick report is more likely to put back serious brakes on a process that John Paul II himself sped up. But the report may complicate the canonization chances of others at the top of the church hierarchy during the late 20th century and early 21st century, when the scourge of sex abuse exploded in the church.  How can we be certain any saints are not in some way tied to concealment of the abuse scourge?   

Let's bear in mind here that Pope Benedict XVI  - who was responsible for concealing the deeds of many priest pedophiles -  enabling their easy movement from parish to parish  -    waived the traditional requirement of a 5-year waiting period before the process could even begin!

The late science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke once referred to John Paul II as "the world's most dangerous man". Why? Because of his active opposition to birth control, setting the stage for mass suffering and destitution across the third world, especially Africa.  There he wouldn't even condone the use of condoms despite an AIDS-HIV epidemic. Indeed, this was the same disgusting hypocrite who preached that Catholics contracting AIDS was a lesser evil than using condoms. 

Consider the implications just for this policy in Africa where nearly a fifth of the population of the continent are Catholics and where over 32 million people are living with HIV.   See e.g.

Was Sir Arthur just another secular humanist curmudgeon?  Not really.  Citing John Paul's "calamitous, callous decision making which put children around the world at risk"  The National Catholic Reporter (Sunday Denver Post,  ibid.)  "urged American Bishops meeting next week for their annual conference to discuss requesting that the Vatican formally suppress John Paul's cult"  - or at least cease celebrating him.  Adding:  "Abuse victims deserve no less."

But it is more realistic to say that train "has already left the station".  John Paul has proven a boon to increasing church membership especially in a time when the religiously - unaffiliated in the secular West are an increasing fraction of citizens.  These include atheists, agnostics and millions ("Nones") who simply want no part of any organized religion.

John Paul II may have had his good moments and policy decisions - when all his acts are weighed- and the positive works may have even outweighed the negative.   But even if for a time he reigned as the "World's most dangerous man" - he should not be a saint and certainly not posthumously the head of another cult.

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