The tenor of the news surrounding the late Pope John Paul II’s beatification in the coming hours has been tilted slightly negatively. Isn’t this process being rushed? Didn’t he fail to confront the pedophile priests in his flock? Wasn’t he dismissive of modernizing the role of women in the church?
One could argue yes, to some degree, in regard to those criticisms. But the conflict-spin on this story misses the larger point — the whole life of John Paul II, a life that can be far more effectively be argued as having been heroically virtuous. That’s the key in this whole march to sainthood. Forget the miracles. That’s an ethereal sideshow. Whether or not you believe in God or Heaven or even the Catholic Church, one simply should not overlook the extraordinary life lived by this pope — beginning with his resistance to Nazism as a young adult right up to the way he dignified old age by living so visibly with Parkinson’s disease. John Paul was, emphatically, one of the most important historical figures of the past century. Believe what you want about this beatification and the motives behind it, but this pope has earned the right to his church’s greatest recognition.
By the way, nearly 17 years ago, on May 4, 1997, Pope John Paul II beatified my favorite saint — Padre Gaetano Catanoso, cousin of my grandfather, and thus, my cousin as well.