John Paul II Set the Barque Back on Course

Why was Pope John Paul canonized this past Sunday not alone but together with Pope John? There is a very good answer to this question: but it is not the one generally being touted by the liberal press, Catholic or secular. Here, for instance, is the often sensible John L Allen, writing in the National Catholic Reporter: “With the canonizations,” he writes, “Francis is speaking not just to the outside world but to rival camps within the Catholic fold who see John XXIII and John Paul II as their heroes—meaning liberals and conservatives, respectively. The message seems to be, ‘You both belong here’.”

It is, of course true that both popes “belong here”: the canonizations belong together, but not for the reason John Allen gives here, the easy, glib explanation picked up by all the liberal commentators, from the BBC (“The decision to canonize the two at the same time appears designed to unify Catholics…. John Paul II is a favorite of conservative Catholics, while John XXIII is widely admired by the Church’s progressive wing”), to the Guardian and the New York Times (“a highly unusual move that was taken as an effort to promote unity within the Roman Catholic Church”). The message is that it’s all Church politics.

The fact is that the two popes had far more in common than ever separated them: they were, contrary to common belief, on exactly the same page: both were popes of the Council—the Council, that is, that Pope John intended. He opened it, remember, with these words: “The Councils—both the 20 ecumenical ones and the numberless others … all prove clearly the vigor of the Catholic Church and are recorded as shining lights in her annals. In calling this vast assembly of bishops, [I] intended to assert once again the magisterium [teaching authority], which is unfailing and endures until the end of time, in order that this magisterium … might be presented in exceptional form to all men throughout the world.” His intention was the very opposite, in other words, of a Council whose deliberations were to be interpreted according to a “hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity.”

This was, as we all now know to our infinite cost, an intention that was cynically hijacked and betrayed. As Cardinal Avery Dulles reminded us, the Jesuit Henri de Lubac—appointed as a peritus by Pope John, to advise him personally—was to perceive in post-conciliar Catholicism “a self-destructive tendency to separate the spirit of the Council from its letter … The turmoil of the post-conciliar period seemed to de Lubac to emanate from a spirit of worldly contention quite opposed to the Gospel.” The unhappy Pope Paul, in 1972, said, now famously, that he had “believed that after the Council would come a day of sunshine in the history of the Church. But instead there has come a day of clouds and storms…. It is as if from some mysterious crack … the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.”

Pope John Paul’s major achievement for the Church was to recover Pope John’s original purpose: to “guard” and to teach more efficaciously “the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine.” Nothing, therefore, could be more fitting than that they should be canonized together: the pope who convened the Council, and the pope who rescued it from its abductors.

In that desperate reference to the smoke of Satan, Pope Paul was speaking particularly about the liturgy, but just as disastrous was the unchallenged rise during his pontificate of the so-called “alternative magisterium” of Küng, Schillebeeckx and the rest of those who challenged any notion of a “sacred deposit of Christian doctrine” to be guarded and passed on. It was a time of vast destruction; and to destroy is always easier than to rebuild. Recovering from the aftermath of the Council will take many years yet. But Pope John Paul began the fight back: he set the Barque of St Peter, and the Church with it, firmly back on course.

His greatest achievement was that he did more than any pope of the last century to defend and reassert beyond any doubt the stable and objective character of Catholic teaching. He discredited the “alternative magisterium,” not by suppressing individuals (though Küng, for instance, had his license to teach Catholic doctrine removed) but by clear and unequivocal teaching. As a result, he made it possible once more for hundreds of thousands of non-Catholics like myself, tired of the uncertainties of secularized versions of Christianity, to come into full communion with the Holy See.

The old indiscriminate ecumenism was allowed quietly to sink into the quicksand of its own internal contradictions; the mists of uncertainty obscuring the Catholic faith were blown away, and the Magisterium was revealed, still standing, firm on the rock of Peter. Quite simply, he had re-established—by the publication of such documents as Veritatis Splendor and Dominus Iesus, and in particular by the massively successful launch of the Catechism of the Catholic Church—what had become uncertain: the simple fact of the Church’s authority to declare the objective truth, and the content, of Catholic doctrine. I and many others had been enabled at last to come home, to escape finally from ecclesial communities in which there was no means of coming to a clear mind about anything, in which it was deemed more important to ask questions than to find answers to them.

It wasn’t just that Pope John Paul recalled the Church to herself: he showed the whole world the power of the Catholic faith in the world, most strikingly perhaps by his astonishing geopolitical achievement in finally giving the answer to Stalin’s contemptuous question “how many divisions has the pope?” This is how George Weigel summed up this part of his achievement:

In 1978, no one expected that the defining figure of the last quarter of the twentieth century would be a Polish priest and bishop. Christianity was finished as a world-shaping force, according to the opinion-leaders of the time; it might endure as a vehicle of personal piety, but Christian conviction would play no role in shaping the twenty-first-century world. Yet within six months of his election, John Paul II had demonstrated the dramatic capacity of Christian conviction to create a revolution of conscience that, in turn, created a new and powerful form of politics—the politics that eventually led to the revolutions of 1989 and the liberation of Central and Eastern Europe.

That explains why many said he was a Great Pope who stood in a particular tradition—the two popes generally thought of as bearing the title “the Great,” Leo and Gregory, both re-established the teaching authority of the Roman Church after a period of uncertainty as well as exercising a geopolitical influence over the events of their own times. But none of that explains why there has been an even stronger feeling that he was not merely great and forceful in historical and doctrinal terms but also that he was a powerful exemplar of holiness, a holiness the Catholic Church needed to recognize. His huge geopolitical and dogmatic impact does not explain the spontaneous demand of the tens of thousands who had poured into Rome to be with the Pope as he died, and who, his earthly sufferings at last at an end, chanted—again and again—those extraordinary and compelling words “santo subito” (“Sainthood now” in Italian).

They had all prayed, those multitudes, with him and for him, as he lay dying; and on hearing they were there, in the piazza outside and far beyond, he said: “I have searched for you, and now you have come to me….” Even as he lay there, said one priest afterwards, he continued to teach us; dying himself, he taught us how to die.

It had been an extraordinary life. His funeral was the single largest gathering of heads of state in history, surpassing the funeral of Winston Churchill in 1965. Four kings, five queens, at least 70 presidents and prime ministers, and more than 14 leaders of other religions attended alongside the faithful. It is thought to have been the largest single pilgrimage of Christianity ever, with numbers estimated in excess of four million mourners gathering in Rome.

“Be not afraid,” John Paul had declared, in Christ’s words, in his inaugural sermon as pope. It was a sermon that powerfully established not only the tone of his pontificate but also the breadth of his own mind and the vast scale on which he assessed the possibilities for the Church in the modern world:

Be not afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power. Help the Pope and all those who wish to serve Christ and with Christ’s power to serve the human person and the whole of mankind.

Be not afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of states, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development. Be not afraid. Christ knows ‘what is in man.’ He alone knows it.

Be not afraid: it became, almost, the watchword for his papacy: not because he obsessively repeated it for others to follow, but because he lived it out himself. He was for many long years in constant pain; his hands shook from Parkinson’s disease; and still he did not spare himself. The older and more frail he became, the more his courage shone out, and the nearer his papal service came to being a kind of living martyrdom.

This was indeed the life of one of her saints. But there is more to be said. By any human measure, his qualities amounted to greatness of the highest order: it is surely very hard to believe that that will not be the verdict of history. Those closest to him certainly saw him as a truly great man. In his first address from the loggia of St Peter’s Basilica, Benedict XVI referred to him, from the perspective of intimate personal knowledge, as “the great Pope, John Paul II.” And with or without the title, that is what, surely, he was: John Paul the Great.

Editor’s note: This column first appeared April 24, 2014 in the print edition of Catholic Herald (London) and is reprinted with permission.

Dr. William Oddie


Dr. William Oddie is a leading English Catholic writer and broadcaster. He edited The Catholic Herald from 1998 to 2004 and is the author of The Roman Option and Chesterton and the Romance of Orthodoxy.

  • “[…] but by clear and unequivocal teaching.” This is the Petrine Ministry!
    Thanks be to God for the great and holy St. Pope John Paul II, a worthy successor to St. Peter.

  • mikidiki

    As a means of establishing balance I should recommend visiting and reading the article posted there on 26/04/2014 by John Vennari, which establishes beyond both argument and doubt that (Saint) Pope John Paul 2 failed in his pre-eminent task which was to maintain the established and traditional teachings of the One True Faith. His travels to 129 different countries made him a super star, and his use of the pope mobile made him an innovator. However, neither seems sufficient for canonisation so soon after his demise.

    • hombre111

      So, in the eyes of many liberals and at least one conservative, Saint Pope John Paul was a failure. That still doesn’t mean he failed as a saint. I agree that the canonization was too soon. But in heaven, that wise and passionate man sees through God’s clear eyes, and he knows what is best for the Church. And so, I don’t hesitate to say, St. Pope John Paul, pray for us.

      • TheAbaum

        So, in the eyes of many liberals and at least one conservative, Saint Pope John Paul was a failure.

        You mean liberals and at least one PHO, all of whom can be characterized as dissenters.

        • david


          • TheAbaum

            Pseudo Hyper Orthodox.

            • david


              • TheAbaum

                No problem.

        • Art Deco

          The Holy See’s workforce is in the low four digits. The manpower is not there for the Holy Father to manage the Church like a corporation. Critics of JPii on certain issues (Rod Dreher and Leon Podles) simply refused to acknowledge this. The Church in the occident rapidly fell into a social and psychological ruin after the Council. There was not much the Pope could do to repair matters other than teach and sanctify and apply what government he could. (There has been in the last year an account of an audience Benedict had wherein he pointed to the door and said his actual authority extended no farther).

          Paul Vi made two or three sets of errors of salience for the American Church. The first concerned the promulgation of the 1965 and 1970 missals and the functional suppression of the old rite. A second concerned running interference for dissenting priests disciplined by Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle. A reversal of this damage would necessarily have been through example, exhortation, and the appointment of capable bishops. His performance in these matters was uneven. (So far, Francis’ performance is plain bad).

          JPii did undertake a visitation of the seminaries. Fr. Joseph Wilson has said it was shambolic, but I cannot help but notice the seminary cohorts who postdated the visitation were much less problematic than those which came before. If the visitation is the reason for that, we have JPii to thank.

          • TheAbaum

            “The manpower is not there for the Holy Father to manage the Church like a corporation.”

            And only in the minds of the ivory-tower academics, do the heads of coroporations know everything that’s going on in their enterprises.

  • Salvelinus

    I wast alive at the time of John XXIII but, Vatican II disaster aside, I cannot imagine today’s idea of “liberal Catholic” (ie proabortion, sodomarriage) going over well without public excommunication to protect the faithful. .. althogh this was also the time when Bugnini began his dismantling of the faith, so who knows

  • hombre111

    Whether we like it or not, St. Pope John will go down in history as the man who opened the window into the modern world, and St. Pope John Paul will go down as the man who did his best to slam the window shut. For anybody younger than 55, the Council is something in the past, and it needs to be studied with the help of some good books. When you look at the way the final documents were formed, you discover that they were compromise statements, offering something to liberals and something to conservatives. This means that both sides can cherry-pick to their hearts content.
    But one thing seems sure to this old man who watched the great Council unfold: In the long story of history, St. Pope John XXIII will be the name that is remembered. John Paul the Great will be mentioned only in discussions about the fall of the Soviet Union. Despite their efforts, the two succeeding popes were not able to push all the toothpaste back into the tube. However diminished, the spirit of the Council goes on.

    • Art Deco

      The name remembered for just what? The Council was a disaster. In any case, he was terminally ill during all the sessions held during his pontificate and died just a quarter of the way through it.

      And, of course, there was no need for the Church to be open to the ‘modern world’. The modern world is notable for its affluence, for its production processes, for the rapidity of communications, for enhanced means of information storage and retrieval, for a different balance between systems of labor relations, and for a different balance between competing political orders, These create (sometimes subtle) challenges for the Church, which means an elaborated critique and amendments to the idiom in which its institutional mission is articulated; it can never mean an altered institutional mission.

      • hombre111

        Everything you say is beside the point, of course. The fact remains, Pope St. John had the vision. His bold decision will be studied and admired or criticized for generations to come. Pope St. John Paul will be a footnote in this discussion, someone with awesome political impact in the secular world, who labored to curb what he considered excesses of the Council. His many strong accomplishments will, hopefully, be remembered. But he lived under the shadow of the Council, and that will be his legacy forever.

        • C.Caruana

          I can imagine the two new saints looking down at you from their exalted throne in heaven, with a mixture of amusement and pity at your efforts to pit them against each other. But worry not, both are equally interceding for your enlightenment.

          • hombre111

            Actually, they both see through the eyes of a loving God. I suspect that the good Pope John’s vision for the Church and Pope John Paul’s vision for the Church have converged, and so they are not pitted against each other. Rather, they must look with compassion and pity at all the squabbling children down below.

        • Art Deco

          Everything you say is beside the point, of course.

          Everything I said is to the point and blatantly so. Example #647 toward the thesis that you occupy the space between fool and fraud.

        • fredx2

          Again, totally misses the point. JP II was a man of the council and worked hard to implement the true council. You are confusing him opposing the Spirit of Vatican II stuff versus the real Vatican II. The real Vatican II was not about liberalism, it was about taking the church and letting it evangelize the world. Not letting the world evangelize it. That’s what gets confused.
          As a matter of fact, after the Council ended, JP II went back to Cracow and instituted a synod just in his diocese that studied the council very carefully and implemented it. As a result, there was no goofiness or confusion in Cracow, there was a good, solid implementation of the council.
          He released the updated Catechism, which distilled all Catholic teaching through the lens of the council.

          • hombre111

            Appreciate your classic conservative appraisal of the Council. I just bought “Living Vatican II,” by Gerald O’Collins, S.J., who was present at part of the Council, then a prof at the Gregorian in Rome. I suspect he will ponder the role Pope John Paul played. But as I said at the start of this thread, the die has already been cast. Whatever your argument and how you say it, Pope John will be the bold visionary who started the Council which changed Church history, and Pope John Paul will be the man who tried to bend it to his will. St. John Paul is dead and will be forgotten in a generation. Discussions about the Council and its impact will go on, and the name Pope John XXIII will still be remembered.

          • Art Deco

            You’ve been channeling George Sim Johnston. I would refer you to Michael Davies’ critique of the work of Fr. Marini, the papal master of ceremonies during JP II’s reign. One thing the Holy Father could surely have done was set a proper example with his official and public celebrations. He also retrospectively legitimated the use of girls as acolytes.

            As for Vii, recall Christopher Ferrara’s suggestion’s for how to read Sacrosanctum Concilium, which is to say read it with an eye to what it allows the other guy (i.e. Fr. Bugnini) to do to you.

            JPii was also exceedingly cautious about allowing a return to the 1962 missal.

        • Phil Steinacker

          John Paul also had an outsized hand in writing the Vat II documents, more than any other contributor. Those familiar with his later writings recognize his language style throughout the VII paperwork.

          You certainly are agressive in putting forth your revisionist spin. Your last sentence is risable. If Catholics were polled worldwide John XXIII would be the footnote – not JP who millions who were personally affected by his papacy.

          You better go back to the Fishwrap; not many here will swallow what you’re serving.

      • Yes! Christian are to be leaven in the world, its salt (preserving from corruption) and light.
        If this was the purpose of the council, “Church to be open to the ‘modern world'” or ‘modernize the church’, then that purpose was inherently wrong. The fruits are evident.
        And It is not ‘to all men of good will’ but rather ‘to those who enjoy God’s favor. After all President Obama claims that there are men of good will on the opposing sides of the abortion debate.

      • Glenn M. Ricketts

        There’s also some circumstantial evidence that John XXIII regretted convening the Council, according to the testimony of Cardinal Heenan of Westminster.

        Whether or not that is true, it was this “progressive” Pope who quickly intervened to take the topic of contraception off the table during the first session, reserving any pronouncements on that score to the papacy. And in his theology and personal piety, the Pope was embarrassingly traditional. He was never the man so may “progressives” try to make of him.

    • TheAbaum

      How does one man consistently get it so wrong? Even a stopped watch is right twice a day.

    • Objectivetruth

      The Church before Vatican II:

      -Full churches on Sundays and Holy Days
      – Abundant religious vocations
      – Altar used
      -Tabernacle kept on altar in center
      -communion rail
      -Statues of Jesus, Mary, Saints
      Modest dress and regulations strictly adhered to
      – Goal: convert others to Catholicism
      -Hersey strictly forbidden
      – state of grace and receiving sacraments mandatory to save souls

      The Church after Vatican II:

      – Near empty churches on Sundays, Holy Days
      – Drastic drop in religious vocations
      -Altar replaced by table
      – tabernacle moved to side or removed
      – no altar rail
      – people wearing their “Sunday best”: NFL jerseys, shorts, smacking gum on their way up to Communion, sweatpants, etc.
      – Conversion no longer goal, ecumenism preached
      – Hersey no longer discussed
      – sacraments optional. Maybe 3-4 people at confession on Saturdays.
      – Sin, no longer a big issue.

      • hombre111

        Well, I can only speak about the brand new church where I am asked to help out. Saturday, 2 priests hear confessions for one and a half hours. Confessions go on as English Mass begins, church 4/5 full (about 500). Two English Mass in morning, full (about 700). Spanish Mass at 12:00, folding chairs brought in, about 900. Spanish Mass at 7:00, church full, about 700.
        Hundreds of communions.
        Altar wonderful massive stone from Mexico. Huge tabernacle directly behind altar opens in back to a 24 hour adoration chapel.
        Announcement before Mass asks people not to chew gum.
        Gringos arrive in various dress, Mexicans arrive well-dressed for the occasion.
        Large crowd in RCIA.
        Vocations have dropped to about ten, despite the efforts of the two Vatican II priests who are co vocation directors. They aim at 15-20 seminarians, and are intensifying their efforts. I hope they succeed. But we need 50 seminarians! For whatever reason, a two archdioceses with a liberal reputation have begun to reap large numbers of vocations.
        In the meanwhile, there are rumors that Pope Francis, who was a diocesan bishop and well aware of the priest shortage, has begun to ask how it can be resolved. There are conversations about married priests.
        According to a Pew survey, adult baptisms are dropping all over the U.S. as the John Paul II priests take over.

    • fredx2

      Boy, that comment sure misses the boat. In no way did JP II ever seek to shut Vatican II down. He did shut down the nonsensical, overexuberant, nutty experimentation that went under the name of “Spirit of Vatican II”
      Even someone as liberal as Zbiegniew Brzezinski has said that JP II virtually saved the church – that it was headed for a split into 20 or 30 different entities and to becoming a loose confederation of national churches.
      As for John being remembered and JP II not being remembered, I doubt it. Both will be remembered because both did Great things.

      • hombre111

        Go back and read the aftermath of the Vatican Council. Pope John Paul left the Church more divided than he found it. He sided with the conservatives and drove the wedge that divides us today.

        • Art Deco

          If you’re up to a “a project of replacing ecclesial authority with personal experience as the norm determinative of authentic faith”, of course the Church will be ‘divided’, because there will be understandable and perfectly proper resistance.

          You stick John Paul with the bill for the fruit of your own rancid little games.

          • hombre111

            As people mature, the law changes from a rule to a guide. The only place where this can’t happen is when a Catholic matures in his faith? He has to be a permanent child who waits for daddy to tell him what to do and think?

            • Art Deco

              As people mature, the law changes from a rule to a guide.

              No, as people decay, they concoct pithy excuses.

            • Objectivetruth

              I like the part in the movie “The Ten Guides” when Moses (Charlton Heston) comes down off from the mountain with the Ten Guides on two faux stone tablets.

              • hombre111

                Actually, that was pretty funny. :>)

            • Phil Steinacker

              You are spewing more of the garbage you peddle at the Fishwrap. Typical progressive, you lack the humility to submit to the legitimate authority of the Church by attempting to replace the “rules” with the Magisterium of Me. We’ve seen what the inevitable corruption of men who treat the law as a non-binding guide.

              Like most liberals, you argue that “mature” Catholics are capable of determining their own path – the sort of nonsense commonly advanced at the Fishwrap. Sure, you have free will – you CAN refuse to submit, but your justifications are strikingly similar to the excuses of teen-agers, the logic of which no one but other teen-agers would confirm.

              The ONLY reason Catholics under 45 know who John XXIII is the repetition of his name as the pope who called the Council. However, most Catholics alive today have little or know living memory of him.

              Not so regarding John Paul II. Your attempt to marginalize him requires incredible chutzpah, bu there’s plenty of that to go around at the National Catholic Distorter.

              “The die is cast” wasn’t particularly original.

              • hombre111

                You give me more power than I have. Marginalize Pope John Paul? Time does that. Balthasar, JP’s favorite theologian, wrote about the guy who tried to stop time: He tried pull the river to shore like a fish, but he only hooked a single wave, and the river went on.

              • TheAbaum

                He argues that mature Catholics are capable of determining their own path, and then spends his time telling us the Pope was incapable of that.

            • A man who is not liberal when he is young has no heart. A man who is not conservative when he is old has rotted his brain out on weed.

        • The only person driving a wedge in this discussion is you and your spirit of extremist hatred for conservatives.

    • Phil Steinacker

      Both popes will be remembered but you have it backwords. Hardly anyone was impacted personally by John XXIII as millions were by JP II. JP II also triggered a surge of vocations to the priesthood which continued through Benedict XVI and even now under Francis.

      John Paul II was seen by more people on the face of the earth than any other pope in history. Your comments betray your progressive leanings, and I think I recognize your handle from comments you’ve made at NCR.

    • I now understand you better. Too much marijuana use has led you to become senile, like the rest of your heretical generation. Go into retirement and let the younger people who learned the dangers of sin from sinning parents have a chance.

      • hombre111

        I’m already as retired as a retired priest can get in this day of priest shortages. Along with two other retired priests, I am the only one available in this deanery to step in when a parish needs help, so right now I am serving in a 3000 family parish with only one other priest. I am breathlessly waiting for the heavens to drop down all those male celibates so I can grab my fishing pole and sit on a lake.

  • Dick Prudlo

    Both these men because God has allowed it, are now Saints of the Holy Catholic Church. It has been claimed that St. John XXIII proclaimed from his death bed, “Stop the council, Stop the council.” If true, it can hardly be said that he is now its champion. Both these men should be prayed too, but not as one may think. They both participated in the greatest disaster ever and should be prime candidates to help turn that disaster around. Now that is a cult worth all of our time.

    • mikidiki

      “Both these men, because God has allowed it, are now Saints of the Holy Catholic Church.”
      These men may be set on the road to Heaven, but IMO neither deserves to be publicly proclaimed and canonised. If you have not read my previous post recommending the article by John Vennari, perhaps you could pay a visit to and read an article or two posted there.
      As for God allowing the canonisation, would you expect a bolt from the heavens or a celestial laser as a sign of displeasure?

      Canonisations are not infallible, suffering, death, tragedies happen. We know not God’s purpose nor why he allows things to occur.

      • Dick Prudlo

        Apparently, Mr. Vennari’s article is no longer available. But, it is also apparent that you wish to snipe vs. having a discussion on this mess. Would it not be more prudent to have both of these men, knowing what they caused, be now given direction by the most High to NOW help resolve what they chose to encourage?

        • mikidiki

          Sir. I have no ‘wish to snipe’. I have merely pointed out that to accept, merely on the basis of their canonisation, that these two men are Saints of The Holy Catholic Church is, IMO, fallacious. You have a different opinion, so good luck with it.
          Your comment that Mr Vennari’s article is no longer accessible is incorrect. I have clicked on and the article entitled ‘The Secret of Pope John Paul 2’s Success, posted at 08.38 on 26/04/14, is there in full view.
          As far as I am concerned I am having a discussion; you have a different opinion which you seem determined to retain, and are welcome so to do. You may continue to pray to the two, I shall reserve my intercessions for those who are, IMO, more recognisably deserving.

          • TheAbaum

            “have merely pointed out that to accept, merely on the basis of their canonisation,”

            There is no other basis, no matter what PHO heretics say.

            • mikidiki

              May I ask who or what PHO heretics are, and who has designated them as such? Just asking.

              • TheAbaum

                It’s my characterization.


                • mikidiki

                  Your reply fails to explain who they are and what they are accused of believing. Perhaps the response simply shows your attraction to acronyms?

                  • TheAbaum

                    They are you.

                    They believe they are the final arbiters of truth. They tell you not only their opinion is as good as yours, but as the Pope’s and apparently can reject canonizations.

                    Their patron “saint” will be Mel Gibson, you know, a guy with conspicuous piety, a private Church, claims of superior orthodoxy and scandals of drunkness, calumny, and broken marriage vows.

                    No particular attraction to acronyms, but no particular desire to waste typing effort, either.

                    • mikidiki

                      You are not only objectionable but grossly incorrect. I do not believe I am a final arbiter of truth. My Faith is certainly more secure than that of a Pope who scandalised the Church, and possibly of another who deems to canonise him. I am pleased that you are content to give ‘us’ Mel as a patron saint since it serves to display your total disrespect for those adhering to traditional Catholicism, and it allows you to vent your your spleen on someone you despise.
                      “After Mass I pulled out a dead President to honor her efforts – and still wondered what more I should be doing.”
                      Seriously, I do not think it should be this!

                    • TheAbaum

                      “So we may disagree but I believe my point of view is of at least equal value to yours.”

                      Your words, not mine.

                      “I am pleased that you are content to give ‘us’ Mel as a patron saint since it serves to display your total disrespect for those adhering to traditional Catholicism”

                      Mel isn’t traditional or Catholic, he’s a PHO, a counterfeit.

                      There’s no difference between your rejection of authority and Hombre111’s. Both heretics.

                    • ” I do not believe I am a final arbiter of truth. My Faith is certainly more secure than that of a Pope who scandalised the Church, and possibly of another who deems to canonise him.”

                      These two sentences taken together are self contradictory. Which is it? Are you more infallible than the Pope, or are you not the final arbitrer of truth, which is the job description of the Pope?

                    • mikidiki

                      The job description of a Pope is to defend and safeguard the traditional doctrines of the Faith. His advisory pronouncements may be disputable opinions. In so far as I aware I have never committed scandal, but no doubt you will make unfounded accusations.
                      There is no contradiction in my position.

                    • Isn’t the very idea of criticizing the Pope making statements about the doctrines of the faith, and claiming that those are not doctrines of the faith, a scandal in and of itself?

                    • mikidiki

                      Here is my final response to your statements:-
                      Where a Pope has made a definitive ex-cathedra proclamation, that which he has defined is infallible. Otherwise his actions are advisory and open to conflict or criticism.
                      Is that clear enough? He cannot pronounce a new doctrine off the cuff; he can only preach his (hopefully informed) opinions.
                      Vatican 2 was summoned to reform and refresh the Church, not to introduce new dogma.
                      Any Pope who kisses the Quran, worships with a witch doctor and declares that we Catholics worship the same God as Muslims, and heretical Protestants, is in error. If you cannot see that you are rejecting reason. I shall say a prayer asking The Lord to enlighten you.

                    • When has the Magisterium of the Church *ever* taught that canonization is fallible? This isn’t new. It has been so for 2000 years.

                    • mikidiki

                      The Church has indeed never taught that canonisations are fallible, and until the changes introduced by PJ2, which weakened the vetting process by removing the Devil’s Advocate and blocking dissenting views, no Catholic would have ever dreamed of disputing a canonisation.
                      However, since, in so far as we know, the non repented for actions of PJ2, for example in Togo and at Assisi, have destroyed one’s capacity to admit of his ‘heroic virtue’, the latest canonisations in Rome have stirred a hornets’ nest. Both Popes my be in Heaven but I shall not venerate them as Saints of the Church.
                      Whatever response you make, if any, I shall ignore. I have spent too much time on this topic attempting to be polite and rational in the face of uncharitable and unchristian attacks. You keep your views, they are now of no concern to me. Goodbye.

                    • “However, since, in so far as we know, the non repented for actions of PJ2, for example in Togo and at Assisi, have destroyed one’s capacity to admit of his ‘heroic virtue'”

                      Those actions are positive proof of heroic virtue and of a willingness to follow Jesus Christ even when Christ leads into a den of vipers.

                • Oh, I’m stealing that one. Even if I’m PHO myself.

                  • TheAbaum

                    You have might have some agoraphobia, but that’s not the same thing. On the other hand, no need to steal that which is given away.

                    • Yes, that’s a part of it, but I was thinking more of my scrupulosity, and how that has a tendency to lead to public denial of my own sins and putting on an “act” of hyper orthodoxy in which I get rather hypercritical (pun intended) of myself and others.

                      This post on my personal blog, trying to understand CCC 2258 by rewriting it with a sin I struggle with, is an example:

                      (and yes, it’s very relevant- having dieted through lent and *gained* 4 lbs to balloon me up to 329, I think it’s clear to say I have a deep seated eating disorder).

                    • TheAbaum

                      Theodore, you have to remember human beings aren’t really well equipped to live in an environment where the questions are “when do I eat” and “what do I want to eat” instead of “when can I eat” and “what can I eat”.

                      Composition is a big part of it. “If it’s white, don’t bite” works well (breads, pasta, rice) all race into the blood stream and spike blood glucose.

                      When you are hungry, try a tablespoon of peanut butter (yes, it’s a lot of fat, but fat helps suppress hunger) or a can of sardines (which like wise is fat, but loaded with Omega 3’s).

                      Good luck, I’m fighting the battle of the bulge as well, The old tricks aren’t working quite like they used to.

                    • Tried those tricks during Lent. I still gained weight.

                      Right now, I’m trying to up my fiber and fish oil intake in the hope that they’ll soak up and flush my excess triglycerides. Later in the spring when the CSA starts delivery, I’ll be switching to a 90% salad diet (the first few weeks are always more salad greens than any normal family of three can possibly eat).

                      But yes, we aren’t mentally equipped for the where phase (HTTG reference: The four phases of civilization: How do I get food? When can I eat? Why do I eat? Where shall we have lunch?) of civilization, where food is plentiful and abundant (and I’m finally in an economic class where I no longer have to worry about the How and When phases).

          • Dick Prudlo

            Thank you. I found it and have read it root and Branch and find no issue what so ever. The issue that we disagree is whether the canonizations are infallible acts of a siting Pope. You say no, I say yes. Miki, I would prefer to have it your way, for I found both these men seriously lacking, but how can we say these two are not Saints? Our Church has proclaimed it.

            • mikidiki

              I should like to refer you to my detailed response on this subject to Guest, posted earlier. The two Popes may be in Heaven i.e. they may be saints. My point is that IMO they do not deserve a universal acclaim formally declared by the current Pontiff. So we may disagree but I believe my point of view is of at least equal value to yours. Thanks for the discussion.

              • TheAbaum

                “So we may disagree but I believe my point of view is of at least equal value to yours.”

                Or Luther’s or Calvin’s or Wesleys.

                • mikidiki

                  Thanks for the accolade. You have placed me in the company of Luther who has been acknowledged by (St) John Paul (The Great) for “his profound religiousness.” Perhaps you had forgotten that; or perhaps you were remembering that Luther rejected both the Catholic Church and Primacy. Oh dear, perhaps Zwingli would have suited your statement!

                  • TheAbaum

                    Luther was at one point religious, but he ended up being wrong.

                    There’s a lesson in there, including damnation with faint praise.

                  • Objectivetruth

                    Heretic: a professed believer who maintains religious opinions contrary to those accepted by his or her church or rejects doctrines.

                    Contact Webster’s. they will be more than happy to upload your picture next to this definition.

                    • mikidiki

                      Opinions are simply opinions and as such are not doctrines. The infallibility of canonisations is not dogma, and with all due respect I do not reject traditional doctrines, proclaimed ex cathedra, because in such cases the Church cannot err.
                      I suspect that flinging unfounded accusations of heresy at a practicing Catholic is particularly sinful.
                      Unfortunately, your arrogance is so over weening that it will not allow you to respond rationally. It is more than likely that you have your pre-set opinions and have not even bothered to read the writings of the various posters on this forum. You, sir, are a heckler and a bully. Goodbye.

                  • Yes, all of those would have.

                    But that doesn’t mean you won’t have a hard time in purgatory.

              • Phil Steinacker

                The issue is not the value of your opinion, but your lack of humility. I also notice your equivocation in downgrading your objection against sainthood for these two popes to challenging whether they “deserve” acclamation.

                Splitting hairs there, aren’t you? Canonized saints deserve universal acclaim.

                BTW, I too have reservations about sainthood in these cases but I submit to the authority of the Church which neither you or I can claim.

            • TheAbaum

              “Our Church has proclaimed it.”

              The Church merely confirmed what the Almighty proclaimed.


              • Dick Prudlo

                Who asked you?

                • TheAbaum

                  Same person that asked you.

                  • Dick Prudlo

                    Asked me what, pray tell?

                    • TheAbaum

                      It’s your question, not mine.

      • Guest

        They are infallible. The Church teaches such.

        • mikidiki

          “After the reform of the canonisation procedure, willed by Pope John Paul 2 in 1983, the process of establishing the truth has become much weaker. Infallibility of canonisations is not a dogma of the Faith. It is an opinion of a majority of theologians. The Church as a whole cannot err. This does not mean that every act of the Church, as the act of canonisation, is in itself necessarily infallible. The assent which lends itself to acts of canonisation is of ecclesiastical faith, not divine.”
          The words of Professor Roberto de Mattei, eminent scholar of Church History and author of an important book about the Second Vatican Council.

          • This is one thing that Professor de Mattei is certainly wrong about, and from there his argument could not recover. The rite strongly implies that the Church has solemnly declared that a particular person enjoys the beatific vision following a life of heroic virtue. Rorate Caeli says as much.

            • mikidiki

              When was Rorate Caeli itself granted infallibility? I dispute that (Saint) John Paul 2 followed a,life of heroic virtue. Worshipping in a mosque and kissing the Quran, etc lend credence to my view.

              • Phil Steinacker

                Your opinion really doesn’t matter. Only a pontiff has the authority to dismiss a canonized saint who, by definition, lived a life of heroic virtue, and as far as I know you are not one.

                That makes you wrong – very wrong.

                • mikidiki

                  I have discussed ‘heroic virtue’ in a previous response to you.

              • Those were examples of heroic virtue in teaching a basic truth of Catholicity, one which you’re failing to understand.

          • Phil Steinacker

            I read that and it sounded good enough for the moment. However, I fouond this today at

            “…in 1933 Pope Pius XI explicitly referred to a decree of canonisation as infallible.”

            Since, as you and many others say, most theologians hold the view that canonizations are infallible. However, with all due resepct to the good professor, it appears Pope Pius XI is the highest authority anyone has cited during the last several months as this debate has continued.

            Rather than read the ravings of CFN I suggest you read this entire blog post by a solid traditionalist priest whose humility permits him to keep his words in submission to legitimate authority.

            • mikidiki

              No-one I know, and certainly not myself, had any problem with what Pope Pius X1 stated in 1933. However, he knew not at the time that a later Pope would, by his actions, scandalise the faithful and yet be canonised under a weakened supervisory system which had both removed the office of Devil’s Advocate and set up a Vatican blockade which refused to accept testimony against such a canonisation.
              One cannot divide holiness, be a saint on one side and not on the other side. As a poster on a different site asked,” Has anyone offered to show that the two popes showed ‘heroic virtue’? Living through hard times and courting the adulation of the secular world do not suffice.”
              (St.) John Paul 2 (The Great) kissed the Quran and assured the world we worship the same God as Muslims do. This amazing, astonishing and incredible r

              • mikidiki

                To Phil S (continued)
                revelation has so impacted upon the Catholic Church that most nominal Catholics have abandoned either evangelisation or the Faith. His visit to Togo where he prayed in the ‘Secret Forest’ with the head witch doctor was, I suppose, another highlight displaying ‘heroic virtue’? And what about the assembly at Assisi where, amongst other calumnies, he acknowledged “the profound religiousness of Luther.” Wow! Heroism of the highest order?
                Finally, I see no need for you to disparage CFN posters by using the term ‘ravings’. It is immoderate and uncalled for. You will be resorting to personal abuse next by declaring I have none, or little, humility — well, I never, you have!
                So much for rational disputation!

                • Luther was profoundly religious. So much so that he destroyed the church for his own scrupulosity.

                  There is such a thing as being too religious- and not realizing that if one possesses the fullness of truth, one need not fear truth that agrees with the fullness of truth.

              • Of my study of the saints, I’d say at least 75% of them “scandalized the faithful”- because the faithful NEED to be scandalized from time to time.

                You don’t think St. Francis stripping naked at the altar and running out of the church was a scandal? And that’s just one example. Saints, as a group, are pretty weird people.

                • TheAbaum

                  “You don’t think St. Francis stripping naked at the altar and running out of the church was a scandal? And that’s just one example. Saints, as a group, are pretty weird people.”

                  I forgot about that, thanks for the reminder.

                  • I’m wondering if that story was at the top of Jorge Bergolio’s mind as he was trying to choose how to get dressed after his election and choosing the name.

                    • TheAbaum

                      Now that’s funny. Thanks for the laugh, I need it today.

          • TheAbaum

            Protestants are found of quoting eminent scholars when attempting buttress their heretical claims.

            Then again, it’s not all that different than when I disputed my Mother’s injunction that the weather required a jacket, and I cited a kindergarten classmate’s assertion to the contrary.

      • Objectivetruth

        If John Paul II ain’t in heaven, none of us have a chance.

        • mikidiki

          You are entitled to your strange and defeatist opinion, but I can assure you that my salvation is not dependent upon whether JP2 is there before me.

          • Objectivetruth

            “Strange and defeatist”


            • mikidiki

              Why would none of us have a chance of getting to Heaven if JP2 is not there yet? I classify that as defeatist. I used the term “strange’ to accommodate, in a moderate manner, your glib, trite and facetious response. Satisfied?

              • Objectivetruth

                English is not your first language, is it?

                • mikidiki

                  It could be with your help! Or perhaps not!

      • Objectivetruth

        “What is bound on earth, is already bound in heaven.”

    • tradmeister

      One traditionalist blogger has put it rather interestingly: we should pray for their intercession that they help give us popes who were much better than they were.

  • Jay

    I must say that these comments are hurtful in many ways. I was brought into the church this Easter, and I’m honestly regretting my decision. I see Catholicism is divided among Modernists and Traditionalists further than I expected. I came from a Protestant background and believe, and I left because of division and splits. I can see clearly that Catholicism is heading down the same direction.

    The “Traditionalists” seem to hold to their pride that the old liturgy is best and modernism is one of Satan’s tools. Meanwhile the “Modernists” have let go of their traditions and have let Protestantism seep into the what’s left of the liturgy.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no Catholicism at all. I want back out.

    • TheAbaum

      “I see Catholicism is divided among Modernists and Traditionalists further than I expected. I came from a Protestant background and believe, and I left because of division and splits. I can see clearly that Catholicism is heading down the same direction.”

      A couple of things:

      1.) There is a pronounced tendency for people to discuss religion with vehemence-there’s even a Latin term for it that escapes me at the moment. It’s as old as the hills-the Apostles argued among themselves-and they had Christ in their midst, bodily.

      2.) A lot of commenters here (myself included) are long on hot air, short on action. This is a tempest in a tea pot.

      Yesterday, as I sat in Church, I noticed the lady in front of me had a small box to collect for an emergency pregnancy shelter after Mass. I pulled out a dead President to honor her efforts-and still wondered what more I should be doing-that’s the part of the Church you should aspire to be a part of-the one that feeds the lambs, not the one that chatters endlessly.

      3.) It’s natural to have a let down after going through any process. Ask any wife after the wedding is over and after the 2000th time, he’s still left the seat up (me, but my defense, I was a batchelor a long time and was pretty set in my ways).

      4.) See your Pastor. Tell him you are being scandalized by blowhards (myself included) and ask him where you can participate in the corporal works of mercy. No matter where you go, you’ll find plenty of vanity, pettiness and the other things we often forget are manifestations of since, but your frustrations will be lessened by effort and accomplishment.

      • I am sure that God is generous and just enough to reward our unspectacular, yet equally heroic simple and ordinary Christian life.

      • RufusChoate

        Bravo well played.

    • Augustus

      I’m afraid you have been mislead. Catholics are not mindless zombies who have no thinking capacity and only march in lock step on every conceivable theological question. Catholicism is the thinking man’s religion. We have a magisterium that does articulate official teaching from Christ passed down through Scripture and Tradition. But there are many subjects that are open to debate and interpretation. Furthermore, even if there is disagreement on some essentials, who cares if fringe elements disagree with official Christian orthodoxy? YOUR job is to be faithful to the message of Christ as taught through his Church. Is your faith so weak that you let a disagreement among armchair theologians draw you back into error? Catholics are disagreeing as members of the Church; they are not breaking away and forming their own like Protestants do. Take a few deep breaths, calm down and educate yourself. The Church has been around for 2,000 years. A little disagreement is normal. Focus on the big picture and don’t make mountains out of mole hills.

    • Jay: Fallen man will always lead you astray: “Yet the very difficulty of this business is useful in this respect: it shows that no man should rest his hopes in himself, nor one man in another, but all who are God’s should cast their hopes on him.” (St. Augustine; Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Love; Ch. 16)

      There have always been factions and divisions among us: “I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgement…each one of you says, ‘I belong to Paul,’ or ‘I belong to Apollos,’ or ‘I belong to Cephas,’ or ‘I belong to Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptised in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1)

      Embrace the paradox: The Church is the body of Christ, a perfect society–and yet full of sinners: “How low! Yet how sublime! At the same time tent of cedar and sanctuary of God; an earthly tent and a heavenly palace; a mud hut and a royal apartment; a body doomed to death and a temple bright with light; an object of contempt to the proud, yet the bride of Christ. She is black but beautiful, daughters of Jerusalem: for though the hardship and sorrow of prolonged exile darkens her complexion, a heavenly loveliness shines through it, the curtains of Solomon enhance it. If the swarthy skin repels you, you must still admire the beauty; if you scorn what seems lowly, you must look up with esteem to what is sublime.” (St. Bernard, Sermons on the Song of Songs, Sermon 27,Chapter 14)

      If we want lasting happiness, we must cultivate our little garden: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 13:3-9)

      God help us all.

    • C.Caruana

      My friend in Christ, the apostles quarrelled amongst themselves in front of Christ, one of them denied Him and another betrayed Him. What is new? The oft repeated saying among high officials in the Roman Curia is that if they have not succeeded in destroying the Church in 2000 years, nothing and no one will. Hold fast to your faith in Christ and His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, for the gates of hell, even the internal ones, shall never prevail against it. I will pray for your faith to be strengthened.

    • Asmondius

      Catholics are human beings, after all.

    • Vincent

      Modernism has been condemned and is not official Church teaching, so there is no division. If you see Modernism as leading to Protestantism than what more proof do you personally need of its error? Just because something is old doesn’t make it wrong… the Nicene creed is old… is it wrong? Same with the mass, lots of Catholics appreciate the Roman Catholic mass free of Modernism… it’s just only available in Latin.

    • fredx2

      Ahh, but the church itself is neither of the left or the right. While the two extremes are the most vocal, the broad middle holds course.

    • bill b

      God has commissioned you to help His Church out of its divisions but off internet. The internet is a magnet for extremists who will never change on screen at least. And many of the paid authors will cater to some of them.
      The Church is not Bermuda…a place for total consolation for you. It’s a statue that is unfinished and upon which you are to work… not relax. You wanted to receive. Christ said it’s better to give than to receive.

    • beriggs

      Jay, as a Catholic of twelve years, I share your dismay at the divisions in the Church. These last few weeks of reading a wide spectrum of blog posts have left me weary, and uncertain about what to think about liturgy, canonizations, and new saints and their “virtues” and “failings.” If you read the New Testament, Saint Paul, certainly one of the first leaders of the Church, was urging unity between different factions. There have been times when there was great disagreement about theological issues, even among the laity. I think that the Church is a messy place, which exemplifies her human nature. The divine nature of Christ, the Church’s head, imparts the one, holy, catholic and apostolic reality to her. Cling to Jesus, and to the sacraments He gave us. Seek union with Him, and live within your parish as a loving servant. The Church’s ongoing conversion will keep happening – in another few decades, the current polarizations will have been ironed out, and there will be new issues, as the Church continues to remain the place where hell will not prevail.

    • Bruce

      Don’t go. The difficulty of helping 1.2 billion people going in the same direction is not a easy one. We will have our disagreements but must stay together. I pray that you stay.

    • RufusChoate

      I implore you to reconsider, try to overlook the inanity that all people as sinners working through our salvation, bring to the Church and find solace in the writings of either Saint Francis De Sales or Saint Therese of Lisieux. but especially the book : “The Story of a Family” by Father Stephane Piat OFM.
      I will remember you especially in my prayers and the prayers of my family.

    • doomsdae

      I too felt the same as a revert however, the Catholic church is the only true church that Christ Himself founded. There are saints and sinners in every church! I finally realized that I am a Roman Catholic and will die, a Roman Catholic. I encourage you to do the same for your own soul.

  • Even better would have been including the canonization of Pius XII. When are we going to let secularists, athiests, and other enemies of the Church hold it back?

  • musicacre

    My husband and I were so very, very privileged, (though not deserving ) to be newly married and facing life’s challenges when JPII became Pope!!! We devoured his every new encyclical and shared at our (back then) sleepy and modernist parish, which is more traditional now, even though it is the Novus Ordo…. Not perfect, but respectful, lots of families sharing a hard-won faith in each case, and the Tabernacle occupying the center of the front, where it belongs!! Thank you John Paul II !!!!! Pray for us!

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  • tradmeister

    It’s hard to know what JPII Dr. Oddie is talking about.

    By any solid measure of Holy Tradition, the JPII pontificate was one of the poorer ones we’ve had, and presided over the continual decay of the human dimension of the Church.

    Popes are to champion the singular truth of Catholicism, not make adherents of false religions comfortable to remain in their false religions. Such religions are not to be endowed with meaningful worth and value, as they have no such thing in the economy of salvation.

    Of course, the Social Rights of Christ the King over governments was tossed aside as being too outmoded for our new, hipster church.

    And Latin rite worship continued to flail about, as highlighted by a few truly tasteless papal jamboree masses. The true bright spot, the TLM indult, only came about as a result of the powerful resistance of SSPX to the reign of novelty. Did I forget that he chose to participate in pagan worship?

    As if that weren’t enough, we witnessed the effective evisceration of authentic teaching on the death penalty. And let’s not forget the gushing celebrations he hosted for the Legionnaires of Christ, an entity whose founder was about as vile as they come.

    It would be nice to have an actual, factual, objective evaluation of this papacy.

    • That the people of God, the Israelites, apostasised and made themselves a god, a calf of molten metal, is Moses’ fault?
      Have you considered that perhaps that the ‘continual decay of the human dimension of the Church’ was in spite of the Pope and not because of the Pope?

  • Alphonsus_Jr

    This is truly a fantastic essay. That is, it’s steeped in fantasy.

    For example, he says of John Paul II: “The old indiscriminate ecumenism was allowed quietly to sink into the quicksand of its own internal contradictions.”

    This is either pure Orwellianism, in terms of flushing the past down the memory hole and recreating history, or it’s pure ignorance. In truth, John Paul II presided over the most egregious ecumaniacal (misspelling intended) scandals in the history of the Church. Is it really possible that Dr. Oddie doesn’t know of the scandalous Assisi meetings? Of JP II’s kissing of the Koran, along with his asking St. John the Baptist to bless Islam? Of his kissing of the hands heretics such as “Archbishop” Rowan Williams?

    Much, much more could be mentioned. I invite all readers to search the net for this devastating essay:

    The Secret of Pope John Paul II’s Success, by John Vennari

    Also read:

    The Catechism of the Crisis in the Church, Fr. Matthias Gaudron