Friday, January 14, 2011

Bl John Paul II?

The Vatican has announced that Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) will be beatified on May 1. I'm not happy about this, though I'm glad I'm an Anglican and don't have to accept it. I considered saying so on Facebook but decided it would cause more trouble than it's worth, so I'll say so here. John Paul II was the epitome of everything I dislike about Contemporary Catholicism: clinging fiercely to a few "conservative" positions (mostly regarding sexuality) while eagerly embracing Modernity in many other areas. Give me a "Renaissance" pope with a scandalous private life but a reverence for Tradition, Beauty, and Grandeur over a pseudo-humble modernist "saint" who consolidated liturgical Revolution any day.

The only thing he did that I really liked was beatifying Emperor Karl (1887-1922). OK, he helped his native Poland overcome Communism--but only in the name of "Freedom," not because Communists are implacably opposed to the kind of traditional, hierarchical, non-democratic, monarchical society I believe in but for which he had no more use than they did. His unqualified praise of "Democracy" (barely tolerated by popes before Leo XIII) made that clear. I think his role in the collapse of Communism outside of Poland has been exaggerated. He did nothing to halt the catastrophic decline in Catholic liturgy and music, even embracing some of its worst aspects, only grudgingly trying to accommodate traditionalists in 1988 when Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (1905-1991) forced his hand. He confirmed his immediate predecessors' renunciation of the papal tiara and traditional papal pageantry, his long reign making it much more difficult for a successor to reverse course. The beatification of Emperor Karl was small compensation for his many failures. I'm not one to bang on about the over-hyped priestly sex abuse scandal, but he didn't exactly handle that well either. John Paul II may have been a holy man personally, but that's really not the most important thing for a pope. Beatifying him sets a terrible example--and ought to warn any traditionalists who have been inclined to be overly optimistic since Benedict XVI took over that there will be no retreat from the Vatican II Revolution.

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