While I probably don't know my readership as well as I should, I have a pretty good feeling that this post is going to be unpopular. This weekend, I finished reading Keys of This Blood by Malachi Martin. It was an interesting book from several angles and something that I think even non-Catholics would appreciate simply from its historical perspectives on the development of international relations, specifically from the birth of the Soviet Union till the 90s.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
As a Catholic, I naturally found the more intriguing parts to be the windows into Blessed John Paul II's mindset as he (and the rest of us) endured the continuing collapse of the Faith during his pontificate. It also serves to highlight some of the remarkable contrasts between JPII and the current Vicar of Christ. For example, Martin presents JPII as pretty much certain that Europe was a lost cause for re-invigorating Catholicism. This explains the enormous resources dedicated to Africa and Asia during his reign. Pope Benedict, on the other hand, has clearly made the re-evangelization of Europe a priority. Also surprising were the hints Martin would later flesh out in greater detail in Windswept House, while at the same time including the Legionnaires of Christ as one of the faithful bulwarks of the Church.
Watching the explanations of some of John Paul II's more controversial actions was quite interesting. Per Martin, the Holy Father was convinced that a celestial event was imminent that would alter the course of the world in the favor of the Church against Her enemies. Reading between the lines a bit, I would guess this event was the rumored Warning that would precede the oft-prophesied Chastisement. Needless to say, that didn't happen, so it's difficult to say how the Pope's gamble is to be understood at this point. What you wind up with is a picture of the Pope that is very sympathetic, while still engaging in some criticism.
It is a favorite past time of a lot of Catholics these days to bash the previous Successor of Peter. I'm not talking about the media types who rip him for not ordaining women, saying contraception is bad, and condemning abortion. What we're talking about here are the "conservative," "traditionalist," or whatever critiques associated with Assisi and the like. Without delving into the validity of those critiques, I've got to submit the following for consideration.
More and more, I'm encountering the new crop of priests. They tend to be militantly orthodox. I'm not talking about the bare minimum "I believe in the Trinity" orthodoxy. I'm talking about "contraception is evil," "Hans Kung is a heretic," "EENS," "offering TLMs" orthodoxy. To a man, they claim Blessed John Paul II as their inspiration for the priesthood. Sure, he affected their discernment to the priesthood in varying ways, but they are all positive ways. Nobody says that they signed up because they felt the Pope was screwing up the Church.
Whether the aforementioned group of Catholics wants to admit it, this is what we will ultimately remember JPII for, I think. The Average Joe Pewsitter has never heard of the Assisi meetings. They have no clue about odd events at papal liturgies or kissing the Koran. It's not remotely on their radar screen. The priests I'm talking about know of these things, though admittedly some didn't at the time they entered seminary or even for some time after they were ordained. The thing to realize is that when they did find out, they didn't get discouraged or abandon their calling. Instead, they doubled down. The limits of papal authority/infallibility, not to mention regular old human weakness, did not shatter their faith or their fidelity. We could all learn from this. I know; everything I said is anecdotal. That doesn't make it untrue.
Sure, it's bad these days, but at least we aren't dealing with the Great Western Schism or similar event. Yet. All I'm saying here is that, for all his failings, I think JPII's influence has stocked the shelves of the priesthood with a lot of guys that we're going to be very thankful that we have in the coming years. Remember that the next time you hear someone ripping into him.
Posted by Throwback at 10:25 PM