John Paul II is speeding along the fast track towards sainthood.I really do hate to always be caviling, and as an ex-catholic, it probably ill becomes me to point this out, but it's a little concerning to me that John Paul II is rocketing to sainthood despite his record of, at best, willful blindness in the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis. It goes all te way to the beginning, too; in a 1993 letter to the Bishops of the United States of America, John Paul addressed the sex abuse crisis for the first time. The letter opens with an epigraph: “Woe to the world because of scandals!” The letter continues:
The late Pope has reportedly performed a second “extraordinary healing” that Vatican sources say will “amaze the world.” If this miracle is approved by the church, John Paul could catapult to sainthood faster than anyone else in recent history.
The Holy See hasn’t officially released details about the miracle, but insiders say it involves the healing of a Costa Rican woman who was suffering from a severe brain injury. She was allegedly cured after her family prayed to the Pope’s memory, The Telegraph reports.
The Catholic Church launched an investigation into the incident. Doctors testified that the healing couldn’t be explained away by science.
A commission of theologians has already approved the miracle, a Vatican official confirmed. The case will now be handed over to a commission of cardinals and then to Pope Francis.
John Paul could be canonized as early as October, just in time for the 35th anniversary of his election. If all goes well, sources say an announcement could be made as early as July — just eight years after his death in 2005.
During these last months I have become aware of how much you, the Pastors of the Church in the United States, together with all the faithful, are suffering because of certain cases of scandal given by members of the clergy. During the ad Limina visits many times the conversation has turned to this problem of how the sins of clerics have shocked the moral sensibilities of many and become an occasion of sin for others. The Gospel word “woe” has a special meaning, especially when Christ applies it to cases of scandal, and first of all to the scandal “of the little ones” (Cf. ibid. 18:6). How severe are Christ’s words when he speaks of such scandal, how great must be that evil if “for him who gives scandal it would be better to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (cf. ibid.) . . . .The Pope spends two of the eight paragraphs of the letter addressing the sexual abuse itself—one pointing out the severity of the offense in terms of the Gospel and one praising the “vast majority” of bishops and priests —and noting “[t]hat is why I am deeply pained, like you,” at the applicability of Jesus’ condemnation to “some ministers of the altar,” which must pain His heart. At the end of the paragraph, he then adds that he shares the American bishops’ sorrow and concern, especially that for the victims. In the third paragraph, John Paul speaks of the need for reconciliation of those offending priests and endorses the employment of canonical penalties.
I would also draw your attention to another aspect of the whole question. While acknowledging the right to due freedom of information, one cannot acquiesce in treating moral evil as an occasion for sensationalism. Public opinion often feeds on sensationalism and the mass media play a particular role therein. In fact, the search for sensationalism leads to the loss of something which is essential to the morality of society. . . .
Therefore, the words of Christ about scandal apply also to all those persons and institutions, often anonymous, that through sensationalism in various ways open the door to evil in the conscience and behavior of vast sectors of society, especially among the young who are particularly vulnerable. “Woe to the world because of scandals!” Woe to societies where scandal becomes an everyday event.
From there, the 1993 letter shifts to the harm threatened to the Church and society posed by sensationalism and by scandal arising from these offenses. Two paragraphs delineate this concern, and the America bishops are charged with the avoidance of scandal as a co-ordinate responsibility in addressing the crisis. Notably, the remainder of the letter lays more stress on the avoidance of scandal than on addressing abuse, and no discussion at all is afforded the question of duties to secular authority.
Additionally, the problem is posed as a purely American one, with no acknowledgment that the Church in other nations had similar issues, and that, in fact, similar complaints had been posed in other nations. That the Holy See had received multiple briefings over decades from the Church in Europe and Latin America has been compellingly documented by Jason Berry (focusing on the appalling protection extended by John Paul II to the Legionaries of Christ and its serial abuser leader Father Marcial Maciel Degollado) and Thomas D'Antonio (focusing on the abuse within the Catholic Church), as well as the indispensable trio of Thomas Doyle, A.W. Richard Sipe, and Patrick Wall.
It was the biggest challenge to the legitimacy and moral authority of the Catholic Church in centuries. There is no kind way to say this; John Paul booted it. Abjectly. I would be falsifying the historical record if I said anything less blunt. His papacy (1978-2005) encompassed, in America alone, two separate outbreaks--the original late 1980s wave and the late 1990s-2000s wave that culminated in the retirement and flight to the Vatican of Cardinal Bernard Law in 2002--where Law "was later given a role as archpriest at St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome." At no time did John Paul II offer anything but brief shows of sympathy to victims; he protected Degollado to the end of his life (to his credit, his successor Benedict XVI ended that disgrace); he never took decisive steps to impose accountability on the Church hierarchy for its role in covering up abuse throughout his papacy. Indeed, the Vatican often hindered the efforts of reformers to protect children and of bishops to laicize priests in his reign.
I don't mean to reduce John Paul II's life to this one issue. But sainthood would seem to me to be inappropriate in the case of a man who, whatever his merits, let his loyalty to the institutional Church, its reputation and its clergy, blind him to his duty to protect the children of God from the shepherds he himself and his deputies had put over them.