Reactions to John XXIII’s and John Paul II’s canonizations

Source: FSSPX News

A crowd of 7 million, then 3 million pilgrims was expected for John XXIII’s and John Paul II’s canonization ceremony in Rome; in the end, there were 800,000 pilgrims there on April 27, 2014.

To show that it was indeed Vatican II that was being canonized in the person of the man who summoned the Council in 1962, John XXIII’s feast day was set on October 11, the day of the Council’s opening; John Paul II’s feast day is on the day of the inauguration Mass of his pontificate, October 22, 1978.

On April 22, 2014, while severely criticizing Bishop Bernard Fellay’s latest Letter to Friends and Benefactors (See DICI no.295, May 25, 2014), Maurice Page, editor-in-chief of the agency Apic, declared: “Canonizing John XXIII and John Paul II means canonizing Vatican II, writes Bishop Fellay. We could not agree more. Vatican II brought to the Roman Church a decisive progress: religious freedom, ecumenism, collegiality of the bishops, human rights, liturgical reforms, a reading of the ‘signs of the times’.”

In listing the “decisive progress” – according to him – brought about by the Council, M. Page forgot to mention inter-religious dialogue. But the World Jewish Congress (CJM) did not forget it, and its president Ronald Lauder, pointed out the “contribution of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II”, who played an important part in improving the relations between Jews and Catholics and in “vanquishing anti-Semitism in the Catholic Church.” The CJM recalled: John XXIII summoned Vatican Council II, whose declaration Nostra Aetate served as a foundation for Judeo-Christian dialogue; under this impulse Israel and the Holy See undertook to create diplomatic relations with each other. As for John Paul II, he was the first pope to visit a synagogue; during his long pontificate, he was behind numerous inter-religious initiatives and paid particular attention to Judaism; in 2000, he officially begged forgiveness for the Catholic Church’s faults and historical errors over the last two millennia.

While refraining from making the slightest intrusion into the domain of Catholicism, Ronald Lauder could not help expressing his gratitude for this double canonization: “While the canonization of these two men is an internal event of the Church and has nothing to do with inter-religious dialogue, we rejoice with the millions of Catholics in Rome and everywhere in the world who are celebrating this event.”

In order to understand more clearly the intention behind this emphatic homage, allow us to recall that the World Jewish Congress represents the Jewish communities of almost 100 countries all over the world, and that it was founded in 1936, in Geneva, to defend in particular the Jewish interests in the face of governments and organizations.

Less optimistic, because better informed than many journalists, historian Roberto de Mattei declared on April 29, to the Catholic Family News who asked him “But you, do you maintain that the last Popes are not saints?” : Allow me to give my opinion on the pope that I know better as a historian, John XXIII. After studying Vatican Council II, I looked more deeply into his biography and consulted the acts of his beatification process. When the Church canonizes a soul, she not only wants to be sure that the deceased is in heavenly glory, but she also offers him to us as a model of heroic virtue. It can be a religious, a parish priest, a perfect father of a family, and so on. In the case of a pope, in order to be considered a saint, he has to have exercised heroic virtue in accomplishing his mission as sovereign pontiff, as was the case, for example, with St. Pius V or St. Pius X. As far as John XXIII is concerned, I hold the well thought-out conviction that his pontificate worked an objective damage in the Church and that it is therefore impossible to speak of sanctity on his account. A man who knew what he was talking about in matters of sanctity, the Dominican Father Innocenzo Colosio, considered to be one of the greatest spirituality historians of modern times, said so before me in a famous article published in the Rivista di Ascetica e Mistica. (Journal of Ascetics and Mystics).”

In any case, less than 15 days after this double canonization, on May 9, Pope Francis authorized the promulgation of the decree recognizing a miracle attributed to Paul VI’s intercession, when he received Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. And the Holy See’s press agency has announced the date of the beatification: October 19, at the closing of the first Bishops’ Synod on the Family. According to the agency I.Media, the pope who concluded Vatican Council II could be canonized the following year, since Pope Francis could dispense Paul VI from a second miracle, as he did for John XXIII, and allow thus his canonization in 2015, just 50 years after the closing of Vatican II.

Faced with these rapid canonizations, historian Philippe Chenaux asked in La Croix on May 12: “Are all the popes of the 20th century going to be canonized?” ; the Remnant had already given the answer on April 15: “But Pius still must wait”.

(sources: La Croix/IMedia/Apic/The Remnant/CFN – DICI no.296 dated May 16, 2014)

You can also read :
St. Pius V and St. Pius X, John XXIII and John Paul II
A Brochure on the Canonization of John Paul II
The dilemma presented by John Paul II’s canonization
Doubts about John XXIII and John Paul II’s canonizations
The canonization of Vatican II