Thursday, 20 December 2012

Pope Paul VI..Venerable? Yes.

According to some, this man was "gay" or an "imposter". He is also said to have had a "double" (this one may be true...). He has been called "weak", "indecisive" and has sometimes been credited with some of the worst things in the history of the Catholic Church (in the minds of those critics, that is). Apparently Pope Benedict wants to signal the progress of Pope Paul's journey to canonization by granting him the title "Venerable". According to Dr. Ludwig Ott, whose theological orthodoxy is hardly open to question, canonizations bear the stamp of Papal Infallibility. This means that the failure to accept a solemnly canonized saint to the extent of seriously doubting, not to say denying, his or her "sainthood" is seriously sinful.

Part of the problem regarding Pope Paul V1 (a major part of the problem) is propaganda mixed with or based on either ignorance or prejudice. At the same time, there are those who like their saints to be uncomplicated, in a "black or white" sense. There is no doubt that Paul was a complex character, perhaps even a man of contradictions. He may even have had some psychological weaknesses (I say "may"). None of these things necessarily stand in the way of his saintliness and, since this would be based on his "heroic sanctity", there is plenty of evidence of that from those turbulent years during and following Vatican 11 in which he made his famous statement about Satan entering the Church.

Who can really know the mind and heart of a man (or woman)? Only God knows all. We in our weakness seek to judge others sometimes according to our own likes, dislikes, prejudices, beliefs and, yes, misunderstandings. What kind of Pope was he really? We could argue for his sanctity as a man, but what of his standing as Pope? A good way to begin, for those who have not done so, is to read some of his writings. Below is a web site offering links to his major Encyclicals, Apostolic Exhortations and Responses. I could single out some of them, but I will simply suggest that, rather than going to the obvious one ("Humane Vitae") an enquirer should go to his wonderful statement of faith in the Eucharistic Presence and then, perhaps turn to his Enyclical on Evangelisation. Personally, I have no doubt that this man was a great Pope, though a Pope of "suffering" in a similar way to Mother Teresa being a "saint of darkness". This man walked over the hot coals of faith and some of the criticisms I have read (on another blog especially) make me both sad and angry.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. It seems to me that those who so vehemently criticise Pope Paul show a woeful ignorance and a lack of imagination. He was elected at a moment of crisis when a whole barrage of expectations had been unleashed by the opening of the Council such that the pressures weighing upon him must have been as immense as they were unprecedented. Later, following Humanae Vitae Pope Paul saw not merely the ridicule of the non-Catholic world but the rebellion of large numbers of erstwhile Catholics including clergy. So many seem keen to attribute to him frightful things which did happen in the Church but over which he had little, if any, power.
    When one considers how only one man has to shoulder the awesome burden of the papacy it is amazing how many are ready to step forward and criticise! Evidently the Holy Spirit got it wrong at the 1963 conclave and really should have directed the cardinals to have elected the blog-commenter yet unborn!