Excerpts from the book by Fr. Patrick de La Rocque, "John Paul II: Doubts about a beatification" (Angelus Press)

Source: FSSPX News

Note from the editor of DICI:  The study John Paul II:  Doubts about a beatification contains more than 400 footnotes.  For lack of space, in the excerpts offered below we were not able to reprint these notes, with two exceptions.  To read all the notes, therefore, the reader should refer to the complete edition.

I. John Paul II and the virtue of faith (Introduction to Chapter I)

Evaluating the heroic character of the virtues of John Paul II comes down to examining the way in which he practiced the virtue of faith in the exercise of his Petrine ministry.  It is important to determine whether he did everything in his power—and to a heroic degree—to make sure that “the Church of Christ, watchful guardian that she is, and defender of the dogmas deposited with her, never changes anything, never diminishes anything, never adds anything to them; but with all diligence she treats the ancient documents faithfully and wisely; if they really are of ancient origin and if the faith of the Fathers has transmitted them, she strives to investigate and explain them in such a way that the ancient dogmas of heavenly doctrine will be made evident and clear, but will retain their full, integral, and proper nature, and will grow only within their own genus -- that is, within the same dogma, in the same sense and the same meaning.”[1]

Far from reaching an affirmative conclusion, we must declare that John Paul II acted otherwise.  On a number of points, and repeatedly in each instance, his statements on matters of faith actually proved to be ambiguous, equivocal.  Moreover he reinterpreted the language of the faith in several areas, so as to give a new meaning to the old words.  And so it is difficult to say that in his ordinary teaching John Paul II was a heroic guardian and protector of the dogmas which the Church holds in the deposit of faith.  Did he not cast himself in the role of pioneer in search of new paths?  Now as it turns out, in that quest a number of his assertions pose serious questions for the Catholic faith.

Without claiming to make an exhaustive list—a task that exceeds the scope of this study—we will simply point out some of the serious questions raised by the teaching of John Paul II, in themselves sufficient to reexamine his alleged heroicity in his practice of faith.  In discussing in turn the way in which John Paul II spoke about the extent of Redemption, about baptism and sin, the following lines do not intend to confine John Paul II to a heterodox system, which would be unfair.  They simply point out the serious errors which his ordinary teaching conveyed—even though elsewhere he happened to recall the opposite truth at one time or another.

II. John Paul II and the virtue of hope (conclusion of Chapter II)

Abandoning what he called the divine dimension of Redemption, John Paul II thereby distanced himself from the theological dimension of hope.  Rather than making himself the messenger of eternal happiness which is the good news of the Gospel, rather than taking this view of eternity as his criterion for judgment and government, John Paul II took as the fundamental axis of his pontificate another hope.  Centered on what he termed the human dimension of the Redemption, this hope has as its object the building of the civilization of love, and as its means, prayer (considered as a religious sentiment)—and consequently world religions (considered in their plurality) and religious freedom.  Its motive is hope in man.

This civilization of love, in other words the unity of the human family here on earth, was the driving force of his major pontifical decisions.  For this reason John Paul II wanted, with a very determined personal intention, to gather all the world religions in Assisi so as to appreciate the prayer of each one;  for this reason he then developed insistently, and often against the advice of the Curia, what he called the “spirit of Assisi.”  He did this particularly through the constant support that he gave to the association “Peoples and Religions” of the Sant’ Egidio community.  Again it was this same motive which, according to the pope’s own admission, was the main reason for many of his journeys;  we mention by way of example his first trip to France, his travels to Poland, Cuba, Chile, or even his visit to the Indios of Cuilapan, etc.  In this same spirit, John Paul II did not hesitate to call a “pilgrimage”—in other words to make sacred—certain steps which were centered only on man;  thus for example he went on “pilgrimage” to Auschwitz, to the memorial at Hiroshima or tracing the spiritual past of India.  In the same way, he insistently considered as a “pilgrimage” every step toward peace made in the spirit of Assisi.  He also went on “pilgrimage” tracing the spiritual heritage of Luther or in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi.  Again in keeping with the hope that was his own, the pope proposed to the world certain men as models;  whether they had shared the ideal of John Paul II—think of Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King, for example—or whether John Paul II distorted as it were some Catholic figures so as to present them mainly under that aspect.   Along these lines one could mention by way of example the deaths of Edith Stein or Maximilian Kolbe, or even the figure of Cardinal Wyszynski.  He also profoundly redefined the very notion of martyr so as to extend it to any person who died, no longer because of hatred for Christ, but because of hatred for man or for religious freedom.  Thus he considered as martyrs the millions of human beings who died in the concentration camps, as victims of the Holocaust or even of Hiroshima, and so he established an ecumenical martyrology on the occasion of the Jubilee Year 2000.

These few facts, selected from among others, show the fundamental axis of a pontificate and the hope that was its framework.  Now this hope, far from being the theological hope which alone is worthy of the name of virtue, is opposed in many respects to the very foundations of the latter.  Far from being theological in its object or in its means, it is even less so in its motive or formal cause.  Believing that he was relying on a theocentric anthropology, John Paul II, on the contrary, took as his foundation the vital immanence that had been condemned by Pope Saint Pius X.  And so such a hope, which finds it quite difficult to escape the condemnation leveled by the prophet Jeremias—“Cursed be the man that trusteth in man” (Jer. 17:5)—cannot be presented as an example for the Christian people.  In this sense, beatifying John Paul II would not be holding up the virtue as a model, but would be promoting a utopia.

III. John Paul II and the virtue of charity (Introduction to Chapter III)

In his treatise on beatifications and canonizations, Pope Benedict XIV explains what signs are required in order to determine that a Servant of God practiced charity toward his neighbors in a heroic manner.  Heroic charity, first of all, presupposes common charity, and this is expressed through works of corporal and spiritual mercy.  Among the works of spiritual mercy we note the following:  correcting those who are in error and bringing them back to the path of salvation;  caring for the salvation of souls and desiring for those souls the means of salvation that we desire first for ourselves.  Heroic charity consists of performing these works promptly, easily and without resistance, with joy;  not now and then but often, even if circumstances make performing these works difficult.

Now the pastoral ministry of John Paul II does not allow us to perceive this genuine missionary zeal.  His attitude within the context of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, far from manifesting charity applied in works of spiritual mercy, proves to be quite different from the behavior that Our Lord Jesus Christ manifested:  “Although He was kind to the wayward and the sinners, Our Lord did not respect their erroneous convictions, however sincere they may have appeared.”[2] Indeed, John Paul II very often demonstrated his respect for the doctrinal points on which his ecumenical partners were opposed to the Catholic faith.  Moreover, far from reminding them with all the requisite delicacy about the necessity of holding the Catholic faith in order to be saved, he often put the Church’s message under a bushel basket, or else distorted it.  His “charity” was therefore not that of the truth.  By that fact alone it was opposed to even common charity.

Because it would be time-consuming to illustrate these theses in each of the extra-ecclesial relations of John Paul II, only the example of relations with Judaism will be treated here.  This example will be typical for two reasons:  first because it was one of the dialogues most highly developed by Pope Wojtyla—perhaps because of his personal experience—and thus the one about which he perhaps most often made statements;  and secondly because the relation of Judaism with Scripture makes it easier to determine whether, based on those Scriptures, the late pope practice the charity of truth or, on the contrary, put his lamp under a bushel basket.

Fr. Patrick de La Rocque, John Paul II:  Doubts about a beatification, Angelus Press. The book will be available in English in June.  See: www.angeluspress.org

(Source:  Angelus Press – DICI no. 234 dated May 7, 2011)

[1] Pius IX, Bull Ineffabilis Deus.  DzH 2802.

[2] St. Pius X, Letter Notre charge apostolique on the Sillon, reprinted in La Paix intérieure, no. 462 in the collection Les Enseignements pontificaux published by Solesmes, p. 272.

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An Opening in a Double Direction
Benedict XVI's Homily for the Beatification of John Paul II
Commentary on Benedict XVI's Homily
Preface by Bishop Bernard Fellay to "John Paul II: Doubts about a beatification" (Angelus Press)
Beatification and continuity
A Statement of Reservations Concerning the Impending Beatification of Pope John Paul II
John Paul II to be beatified May 1, 2011
Communiqué of the District of Germany on the beatification of John Paul II