The late Pope John Paul II’s beatification ceremony will take place in the Vatican on Sunday, May 1. John L. Allen, Jr., CNN Senior Vatican Analyst, wrote a column to explain the process of beatification and sainthood. My reason for writing this piece is to echo an opinion piece, by Vincent Carroll in the Denver Post; that it is indisputable that the word great belongs with the name Pope John Paul II. Here is an excerpt from Vincent Carroll’s editorial
A young man comes of age in a country occupied by the exterminating jackals of Adolf Hitler, joins a movement of cultural resistance and eventually finds himself on the run. He survives, but then must endure decades of communist oppression â€” and yet does so without groveling or compromising his faith or principles.
Let me explain in more detail what finding himself on the run meant to him. At 21, Karol was arrested in a Nazi round-up and narrowly escaped being sent to Auschwitz. At 23, a speeding German army truck hit him from behind and drove on without stopping. If a woman had not happened on the comatose man and called for help, Karol might have died. He woke up in the hospital covered with bandages, suffering from a severe concussion. On August 6, 1944, a week after the Warsaw Uprising, the Nazis swept Krakow, arresting every adult male as a precaution against their staging another organized uprising. In his basement apartment, Karol lay praying in the shape of the cross. The Germans stormed into his apartment building; he could hear their boots taking the stairs two at a time as they went through the top floors. He heard the boots descend. Miraculously, the Germans did not take the stairs to the basement. Those threats permanently impressed on him the presence of real evil in the world. Having come so close to being killed by vicious invaders, there was no way Wojtyla could shut his eyes to the terror and death around him. It was worse than being a soldier in battle–a soldier might at least have a fighting chance amid the blood, smoke and mayhem. Wojtyla lived something possibly even more nightmarish than the battlefield. In Krakow during World War II and after, he lived the Apocalypse. He saw his city overrun repeatedly by the Four Horsemen: Conquest, Slaughter, Famine and Death.
Some point out the crimes and cover-ups of the clerical sex abuse scandal which occurred during his 27-year watch â€” a scandal that has convulsed the Catholic church for the past decade, and done seemingly irreparable harm to it in Ireland, in particular.
Asked about how the sex abuse scandal had affected the pope’s legacy and beatification cause, Cardinal Angelo Amato, who runs the Vatican’s saint-making office, told reporters: “Sin exists. Our sins exist. But this doesn’t impede the holiness of others.”
When I dig deeper into writings of those who are critical of Pope John Paul II, I discover what a strawman argument the clerical sex abuse scandal really is. They were critical of him way before they knew about that scandal, and it is really based upon the facts of how he survived and endured decades of communist oppression – and yet did so without groveling or compromising his faith or principles. They were looking for a Pope who would grovel, compromise, and support abortions, homosexuality, and the Marxist liberation theology movement in Central and South America.
Those critics think of him as someone who exhibited all the values of a vanished world of a long time ago instead of our modern world. I believe only a minority actually believe the drivel of these critics. Most believe there are certain values that do not have any expiration date over the course of time. I know only from my own experience, and not statistical research, that there is growth in the churches that DO NOT compromise their faith or principles. There is decline in the churches that DO compromise their faith or principles.
I do remember Pope John Paul II. He was a great man, and this world is a better place because of him. Below are some examples of Pope John Paul II in his own words.
Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.
The gift of life, for all the effort and pain it involves, is too beautiful and precious for us ever to grow tired of it.
Young people are threatened… by the evil use of advertising techniques that stimulate the natural inclination to avoid hard work by promising the immediate satisfaction of every desire.
It is legitimate and necessary to ask oneself if this [gay marriage] is not perhaps part of a new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden, which attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man.
The truth is not always the same as the majority decision.
You are priests, not social or political leaders. Let us not be under the illusion that we are serving the Gospel through an exaggerated interest in the wide field of temporal problems.