On flawed saints

Plain-spoken wisdom from one of my favorite Catholic bloggers yesterday:

Not that canonization is an endorsement of everything the saint ever did. As Fr Benedict [Groeschel] once said “You can go to hell imitating the vices of the saints.” As for me, flawed saints are proof that God sets a pretty low standard, and salvation is near-universal. Asshole saints (not that John or John Paul are remotely assholes) are a sign of hope.

Caelum et Terra is worth regular visits.


John Paul II and John XXIII posts and articles: oldies but goodies

In honor of this weekend’s canonization, here are some my past posts and articles on these two greats.

On Pope St. John XXIII:

Martin de Porres: patron of social justice (canonized by J23)

50 years ago today: Vatican II begins

My Our Sunday Visitor article on the 50th anniversary of the encyclical Pacem in Terris

The social teaching of St. John XXIII

On Pope St. John Paul II:

Redemptoris Mater, 25 years on

My Commonweal article “True Then, Truer Now: Sollicitudo Rei Socialis Turns Twenty-Five” (subscription only)

Has Jesus been “locked inside the Church and knocking because he wants to get out”?

“The book of nature is one and indivisible”: The popes, abortion, and Catholic social teaching

John Paul II on Eucharist and social justice

The social teaching of St. John Paul II

Canonizing John XXIII: “In fifty years’ time it will be too late”

Now here’s an interesting passage I came across today while checking for something else in Yves Congar’s Vatican II journals.

In his entry for October 2, 1964, Fr. Congar refers to the suggestion made by several bishops at the Council, including the great Belgian Cardinal Suenens, soon after the death of Pope John XXIII, that he be canonized a saint by popular acclamation — such as was done in the early days of the Church — rather than waiting for the formal process to happen. (A proposal advocating the move was circulated among the bishops at the Council, but Pope Paul VI preferred for the normal process to be followed and paired Pope John’s cause with that of his predecessor Pope Pius XII.)

Congar reports in his journal a car ride he shared with Suenens, in which the topic of the hoped-for canonization of Pope John by popular acclamation came up. He wrote, “He [Suenens] thinks that such a canonisation would find a very great echo in the world. But in fifty years’ time it will be too late.”

Here we are — almost precisely fifty years after Congar wrote those words on Suenens’ thinking — preparing for the canonization of John XXIII this Sunday. Obviously, Congar does not specify what Suenens meant by it being “too late.” But it’s worth surmising what he meant, and asking: was Suenens right?

Two new saints — four new articles

Our Sunday Visitor has published a special supplement of their April 27, 2014, issue, marking the canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. Four of the articles in the supplement are written by yours truly, and each is available online. They are (with a snippet from each):

“Cut from the Same Cloth”

With the April 27 dual canonizations of Popes St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II, much has been made of the differences between the two pontiffs. But the two have plenty in common — even beyond the obvious and most important connections of the Catholic Faith they both embraced and the important role they both played at the helm of the universal Church. Here are a few interesting things they share.

“The Legacy of St. John XXIII”

His work was marked by an openness to the positive aspects of modern society and an optimism about people and circumstances. He was convinced that condemning errors was less effective in the proclamation of the Gospel than dispensing what he called “the medicine of mercy.”

“The Legacy of St. John Paul II”

Pope St. John Paul II reminded the Church of its central mission: the proclamation of Jesus Christ to the world. From his very first encyclical letter in which he proclaimed Jesus as “the center of the universe and of history,” John Paul produced a massive amount of documents, speeches and books marked by the centrality of Jesus and the redemption he won for humanity.

“Beloved Popes Inspired Generations of Priests”

With the canonizations of Pope Sts. John XXIII and John Paul II, legions of Catholic priests will delight in the moment. Certainly, many lay and religious men and women also hold these two spiritual leaders in high esteem. But so many priests who prepared for ministry and were ordained during their remarkable pontificates look in a special way to one or the other as a lasting inspiration and model, giving us the “John XXIII generation” and “John Paul II generation” of priests.

There are plenty of other good canonization-related articles by other writers in this issue of OSV, too. I was especially taken by the insightful observations of the issue’s editorial, “The Mercy Popes.”