Leading up to the beatification of Pope John Paul II on May 1st there has been a certain amount of grumbling about him being fast-tracked. Most of these grumbling set around the late popes administration regarding the abuse scandal and his association with Fr. Marcel. These criticisms range from Catholics to secular critics. Even Maureen Dowd has weighed in on this and you can guess her opinion. She plays devil’s advocate and as her columns show it is easy to be a devil’s advocate when you share his point of view.
A lot of these criticisms remind me of the misinformed Protestant understanding of papal infallibility which they confuse with impeccability. In Pope John Paul II case they seem to think that heroic sanctity means that you’re a perfect or near-perfect administrator and can read the souls of people you know. Personal holiness is to be thrown out if whatever you have a bone-to-pick with wasn’t picked in the manner and timeliness you wanted. People can certainly critique Pope John Paul II’s papacy as they can critique how any pope administers. There are certainly things I would critique during his time as pope, though I do not doubt his personal sanctity one bit and am filled with joy at his being beatified. Pope Celestine V is both a saint and in life he was also a horrible administrator. He knew this of himself which is why he resigned after 5 months of being the pope. He was picked for his holiness, but personal sanctity does not mean you have the full skill set to be an able administrator. Pope John Paul II was a true leader and an able administrator – just not a perfect one.
The other argument used is that the normal time requirement was waived int this case by Pope Benedict XVI as was also done for Blessed Mother Teresa. While certainly a five year cooling off period before any cause is started is a prudent choice in most cases it was not like Pope John Paul II’s life lacked investigation up to that point. Regardless though an in-depth investigation was still made as to whether he displayed heroic sanctity. In addition to the investigation there was of course also the cure of French nun Sister Marie Simon-Pierre due to the late pope’s intercession. The Church is very prudent in these cases that even when they conduct an investigation and find the proper result she still waits for God to weigh in on this. Is anybody arguing that God was pressured vi fast-tracking into performing a miracle via Pope John Paul II’s intercession?
Besides God seems to have set a precedence or two considering fast-tracking saints. Think about the case of St. Dismas the thief on the cross next to Jesus who repented. Jesus had just met the guy who was indeed a thief and yet he promised him that he would be in paradise with him “this day.” Talk about fast-tracking.