|Pope John XXIII|
This stands out all the more when one considers the causes for canonization for former popes related to Vatican II. During and after Vatican II the Catholic Church has had four Pontiffs who have gone to their reward; John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II. Now consider that two of those have already been declared saints, Paul VI has been declared a “Servant of God” and last year had a miracle attributed to him, clearing the way for him to be beatified and John Paul I also has a cause underway, has also been named a “Servant of God” and has a miracle under examination by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. In other words, every single deceased Pope since Vatican II has been or is in the process of being declared a saint. This sudden flood of saintly pontiffs seems, rightly or wrongly, all the more out of the ordinary given that, during this period of history, the Catholic Church has diminished greatly, both in influence and in the number of clerics and adherents. Skillful leadership is not a requirement for saintliness but, again, it does seem rather odd that such a succession of saintly leaders would preside over such a decline in a religious organization. What qualities exactly have these men demonstrated that their pre-Vatican II predecessors did not that would warrant this? Were Pius XII, Pius XI or Benedict XV any less saintly?
|Pope Pius IX|
Certainly, one can make the argument that the canonization of Pius IX should be delayed because it might give people the wrong impression; the idea that such a step implies a ringing endorsement of his every action. Pius IX is, and certainly was even in his own time, a rather divisive figure. To some degree, he had only himself to blame for that, presenting himself as a reformer and an Italian patriot only to later (come to his senses and) become a reactionary and force Italians to choose between their country and their Church. That is a painful thing and most people do not want to have to make such a choice, which is invariably bad for the Church since history shows, from England to Germany, if forced to decide, the majority tend to choose their country. However, and this is my own opinion I must emphasize, it does not seem to me that his politics is really the issue. Yes, he was the last Pope to wage war, he was the last Pope to send people to the guillotine and today we know that the Popes are against all wars and oppose the death penalty. But it is not uncommon, in my experience, to find Catholics who will defend those actions, who will point out the context of the situation and the principles that motivated Pope Pius IX in his rule as the last “Pope-King”. What is far from common is to find anyone defending the “Syllabus of Errors” and I cannot help but think that, rather than his political decisions, it is the syllabus that causes Pius IX to be pushed aside by those in the Vatican today. Anyone who would defend the “Syllabus of Errors” is probably a hopelessly outdated reactionary, probably a monarchist and quite possibly mad (and probably has a portrait of Pius IX on his wall simply for being so ardently opposed to “progress” -not that we’re talking about anyone specific here).
|Pope John Paul II|
|Pope Pius IX|