John Allen Jr. , Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, is devoting his daily blog this week to the May 1st Beatification of John Paul II. As usual, he attempts to give a balanced perspective on events and issues. Yesterday, he wrote about the continued popularity of this pope despite the fact that his life was often a sign of contradiction . The contradictions have led many to question the wisdom of beatifying the late pope so swiftly.
The most cited reason for delaying or denying the beatification is John Paul II`s lack of action against priests and bishops accused of sexual abuse. Some ultra-traditionalists object to the inter-religious dialogue promoted by John Paul in Assisi, claiming it led to a rise in relativism. Many liberals object to his firm stance against women`s ordination, liberation theology, and the silencing of many theologians.
Despite the controversy, there is no denying the popularity of Pope John Paul II. At the time of his death, the crowds in St. Peter`s square held up banners… Santo Subito – Sainthood Now! That is how holy women and men were recognized as saints in the early days of the church. People saw their sanctity, and celebrated it spontaneously. Many Catholics believe in the sainthood of John Paul II, whether it is officially sanctioned or not.
I wish that it could have been left at this simple and personal level. Patient waiting would have allowed for more dialogue in the midst of the controversy. The Vatican will be paying $6 million for the Beatification ceremonies. Maybe it is not the right moment for Cardinals and Bishops to be parading in all their glory and finery as they elevate one of their own towards sainthood. Or perhaps it will be a much needed PR moment for the Church during these dark days of scandals. Time will tell.