Why John Paul II Has Been Beatified So Hastily
For many who have been canonised by Rome, the process has taken centuries; for most, at the very least, it takes many years. There is meant to be a five-year waiting period after the person’s death before an investigation into the possibility of canonisation is opened, although this rule can be waived by the Roman pope. And in 2005 Benedict XVI did just that. Explaining away the waiving of the usual five-year waiting period, a communiqué from the Congregation for Saints’ Causes stated: “It is well known that, by pontifical dispensation, his cause began before the end of the five-year period which the current norms stipulate must pass following the death of a Servant of God. This provision was solicited by the great fame of sanctity which Pope John Paul II enjoyed during his life, in his death and after his death.” Nonsense. This unbecoming haste has nothing to do with the much-vaunted heavenly piety and holiness of the late John Paul II, but everything to do with very earthly, very worldly politics. Vatican politics, specifically. The real reason for the hasty scramble to beatify the man was because, at a time of worldwide anger directed towards Rome because of the priestly sex abuse scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic institution, the Vatican desperately needed something to boost its fortunes. The beatification of the most popular and beloved pope in modern times, and perhaps of all time, was just what was needed. The Romish hierarchy saw the adulation of the immense crowds at John Paul’s funeral, who chanted, “Santo subito!” (“Sainthood, now!”), and they were not slow to capitalise on the depth of feeling for the late pope. They moved so swiftly that Giovanni Maria Vian, the director of the Vatican newspaper, said the beatification would be “a historic event which has no precedent”, for “one has to go back to the heart of the Middle Ages to find similar examples, but in contexts that are in no way comparable to Benedict XVI’s decision.” He explained that no pope of Rome has beatified his immediate successor in the last ten centuries.
And there’s another reason for the hasty beatification. Although John Paul II was the most popular pope in modern times and possibly of all time, the fact remains that he still firmly maintained the traditional Roman Catholic stance against contraception, abortion, homosexuality, and the role of women in the “Church”. Now these are precisely the issues which many modern, liberally-minded Roman Catholics are questioning, and there are constant calls from liberal Papists for the “Church” to re-examine and even change its traditional stance on these matters. But by beatifying and eventually canonising this extremely popular pope who nevertheless maintained the Roman Catholic institution’s position on these issues, the Vatican hierarchy is hoping it will go a long way towards silencing such critics. After all, if these are the things “Blessed” and eventually “Saint” John Paul II stood for, who could dare criticise them?
Thus Benedict decided, only months after John Paul had died, to fast-track the road to “sainthood” by waiving the normal five-year waiting period. And ever since then, things have moved very, very rapidly for the Vatican, as John Paul’s beatification case was rushed through all the various steps.