I have a feeling that when historians look back at the recent death-spiral of the Catholic hierarchy, they will note the radicalism of Benedict in a couple of respects: his sudden resignation, upending centuries of tradition; and his continuation of the absurd sanctification policies of his predecessor and ally, John Paul II. John Paul II canonized more saints than all the Popes since 1588 put together. Those new, desperate developments – showing how theoconservatism is, like neoconservatism, anti-traditionalist and radical in its new modes of thought and action – are culminating in the canonization of Wojtila just eight years after his death.
I agree with Catholic historian Michael Walsh, who sees corruption in all this:
My doubts are about John Paul being beatified by his successor, Pope Benedict. It appears incestuous and akin to the habit of deifying one’s ancestors.
The whole point of the very long and arduous process of canonization (pre-Wojtila) was to guard against the emotional judgment of contemporaries, and the narrow interests of Vatican factions, in order to wait for the cool reason of historical perspective. And it is far too soon to tell what John Paul II’s ultimate legacy will be. He radically transformed the papacy into a traveling rockstar world-tour, a precedent that made his successor seem even smaller than he was. He reversed the intellectual openness of the Second Vatican Council. The Catholicism he revered was very Polish and very anti-modern, even though his own intellect was considerable. There’s no denying his charisma, his charm or the depth of his faith and power of his example. His role in guiding Europe away from Communism was integral to the miracle of the late 1980s. But he also presaged the collapse of the church in Europe and presided over the worst scandal in the church since the Reformation: the rape of thousands of innocent children and the cover-up that protected priests rather than kids.
Unlike Ratzinger in Munich, Wojtila didn’t have a direct, personal role in enabling the rape of children under his direct supervision. But his refusal to see what was in front of his nose, and, more specifically, his long and passionate support for one the the greatest monsters of the scandal, Marcial Maciel, seem to me to argue for caution and time, rather than impulsiveness and a rush. Maciel was a bigamist and a drug trafficker and a multiple child rapist. He even raped his own children. He ran a cult devised to satiate his sexual appetites and bring in money in massive amounts. John Paul II was the prime obstacle in stopping this man’s corruption and evil – far more protective than even Ratzinger. The sheer amount of money Maciel was able to shake down from the wealthy was undoubtedly salient here, as was his ability to bring countless new, Francoite priest-bots into the Church. I just don’t see how a Pope with this on his record can be made a saint almost instantly.
Or not without putting the hierarchy once again on the side of the powerful – at the expense of the souls of countless children. Does this not merit at least some measure of circumspection rather than a rush to instant judgment? And does this process not feel like a sudden move to protect his legacy before its full details come to light?