Thursday, 28 April 2011

Thoughts on the beatification: roll on Monday ...

... say I. Not because I am simply looking forward to the Bank Holiday (which I am, of course); not because I particularly like Mondays (which indeed I don't). Quite simply, the piece of grit clogging up my soul between now and Monday is the beatification of John Paul II on Sunday.

THOC has written a piece nailing his colours to the mast on this topic. I confess I have no colours and no mast to nail them to in any case. One surfs around the internet and what does one find? His sincerest defenders cannot truly account for his appalling neglect of the liturgy and for a generation of episcopal appointees who make the blood run cold. His most robust critics have barely begun to understand his remarkable faith or his outstanding contributions to moral theology.

Usually debate is hardly so elevated. Either we have John-Paul tub thumping of one kind or another or we have desperate denunciations of the beatification from the liberals or the hard traditionalists; the former because John Paul was too Catholic, and the latter because he wasn't Catholic enough.

Of course the vast majority of pew-bound Catholics will be oblivious to either camp. John Paul will be beatified, and most western Catholics will still use contraception. John Paul will be beatified and most western Catholics will still show little reverence for the Blessed Sacrament; in my local church at Holy Thursday last week, a group of old ladies rose en masse and began talking loudly as soon as the priest had retired from the altar of repose, an action undoubtedly repeated in many places. Mind you, they are not the only ones not listening to John Paul. The traditionalists will continue to claim he believed in universal salvation, in spite of his having established the Divine Mercy devotion as an integral part of the Church's calendar. The liberals will still insist he was an authoritarian bully, even though his record on excommunications was pretty tame in comparison to some popes.

Nobody is listening. As I said, I have no mast and no colours to nail to them. I know that John Paul was a lot nicer and far more reasonable than many of his loudest cheerleaders. I'm also sure he was a lot more pious than many of his severest critics. I can see no justification for his reckless inter-religious programme, nor can I see how he squared that with his laments over the apostasy of Europe now mired in religious indifferentism brought on by the kind of doctrine-lite thinking which inter-religious activity very often promotes.

I have found this whole rush to beatification dangerous. It simply unsights us. We have no perspective. All the more reason, one would assume, to trust the Church; to trust that - in spite of the contradictions one can see on all sides, in spite of the fan-club mentality on the one side and the angry incomprehension on the other side - God is still guiding his Church.

One last thought, however. I fear greatly that this beatification and the Assisi meeting of October will seal permanently the rift with the SSPX. Things were difficult enough as it was. Their unawareness of their own theological methodology was as good an obstacle as any I can think of. But how will they ever get over this beatification, let alone a potential canonization?

So, roll on Monday. Truly, I am lost in incomprehension.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Finally, some clear thinking on the issue. I could not agree more.

GOR said...

Well put, Ches!

The maxim festina lente is useful in most things. In this case I think the Church got the festina part right, but is somewhat lacking in the lente department.

W.C. Hoag said...

His sincerest defenders cannot truly account for his appalling neglect of the liturgy and for a generation of episcopal appointees who make the blood run cold. His most robust critics have barely begun to understand his remarkable faith or his outstanding contributions to moral theology.

Ches, you have nailed your colours to the truth!