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Vatican Announces Popes John Paul II, John XXIII To Be Canonized

Saint-Peters-Basilica-interior

To date 76 of the 265 men who have served as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church have been named Saints after their death Today, the Vatican cleared the way for two Popes to be canonized before the end of the year:

Pope Francis has cleared John Paul II for sainthood, approving a miracle attributed to his intercession.

Francis also decided Friday to canonize another pope, John XXIII, even though there has been no second miracle attributed to his intercession. The Vatican said Francis approved a decision by cardinals and bishops.

The ceremonies are expected before the end of the year. The date of Dec. 8 has been floated as a possibility, given it’s the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a major feast day for the church.

John Paul has been on the fast track for possible sainthood ever since his 2005 death, but there remains some concern that the process has been too quick.

Some of the Holy See’s deep-seated problems — clerical sex abuse, dysfunctional governance and more recently the financial scandals at the Vatican bank — essentially date from shortcomings of his pontificate.

Defenders of the fast-track process argue that people are canonized, not pontificates.

La Stampa newspaper reported earlier in the week that John Paul would likely be canonized together with Pope John XXIII, who called the Second Vatican Council but died in 1963 before it was finished.

The last Pope to have been canonized was Pope Pius X, who served from 1903 until his death in 1914.

Update: Ed Morrissey makes an interesting observation about the decision to canonize John XXIII:

The Vatican issued a statement regarding a number of approvals for canonization, but the most interesting is that of John XXIII.  The exercise of papal authority in this case seems to be a very strong signal from Francis endorsing the outcome of the Second Vatican Council, which remains controversial with conservative elements within the Church.  It’s a big rebuke to the Pius X Society (SSPX), a splinter group with whom the Vatican has tried to reconcile for decades since they split off in the 1970s.  Pope John Paul II excommunicated a number of them in the 1980s for their attempt to consecrate new bishops.

SSPX wants the Vatican to back off from Vatican II changes and return to the earlier practices of the Church.  This looks like Francis’ answer to their demands,

SSPX is but one group of conservative Catholics who have had Vatican II in the cross hairs for quite some time. These people have been hoping for a Pope who would roll back some or all of the liberalization that occurred at that time, only to see those hopes dashed. John Paul II didn’t do it, the theologically and liturgically conservative Benedict XVI didn’t do it, and now Pope Francis is making clear that he won’t be doing it either. There will be no turning back from Vatican II.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. PJ says:

    They are going to canonize him less than a decade after he died, what happens if something really troublesome about him surfaces within the next couple of years? Sainthoods aren’t revoked.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  2. Ben says:

    All hail Saint John Paul, the patron saint of enabling child rape!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  3. PJ says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    To date 76 of the 265 men who have served as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church have been named Saints after their death

    Wikipedia lists 79 Popes who have been canonized, not sure what the difference between the lists are.

    These are Popes 1-35, 37-49, 51-54, 57-58, 64, 67-68, 74-76, 79-81, 84, 89-91, 93, 96-98, 103, 105, 109, 152, 157, 192, 225, 257.

    So, 48 of the first 49, or 98%.

    Of the first 109 Popes, 74 have been canonized, that’s 68%.

    The 109th Pope’s pontificate ended in 885. Of the following 155 Popes, only five have been canonized. That’s 3%…

    John Paul II was popular, but I doubt that canonizing him will help fix the Church’s current problems…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  4. Tony W says:

    Meh. It’s their club, let ‘em give each other whatever awards they want to.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  5. Pinky says:

    I have mixed feelings about John Paul II’s canonization.

    The world is always impressed with itself. We love to think that we’re the most interesting people who’ve ever lived, and that leads us away from thinking in historical terms. The Church is supposed to recognize the merits of the saints across history. You can really only understand the uniqueness of Catholicism if you have some grasp of world history.

    John Paul wrote some great things – but so have a lot of other people. A lot of other popes have reshaped the political world. I think John Paul’s impact on the spiritual life of the Church (particularly behind the former Iron Curtain) is overestimated. And while it’s true that popes are canonized, not pontificates, it’s not outside the bounds of reason to consider his pontificate in assessing his life.

    If you ask me whether he’s in heaven, my answer is “I hope so”. Admission into heaven is really the only standard for determining a saint. I just don’t feel the need to rush it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  6. Is it just me, or is the Cahtolic Church really watering down how meaningful being canonized is? From the beginning of the moden process in the 16th century to the 1980s, there were less than 300. Pope John Paul II was personally responsible for more than 400, and now Pope Francis has canonized more than 800 people in just one year:

    http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/francis-canonizes-record-breaking-number-of-saints-802

    Pretty soon everybody is going to be a saint.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  7. al-Ameda says:

    Seems a little hasty, doesn’t it? John Paul 2 was pope during the molestation scandals and evidently he and his leadership did nothing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  8. Pinky says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Well, to be fair, that number includes Antonio Primaldo and Companions (800 total). You canonize a group like that, it’s going to skew the stats.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. PJ says:

    @al-Ameda:

    John Paul 2 was pope during the molestation scandals and evidently he and his leadership did nothing.

    Don’t worry, Papal infallibility dictates that whatever John Paul 2 did was correct.

    @Pinky:

    Well, to be fair, that number includes Antonio Primaldo and Companions (800 total). You canonize a group like that, it’s going to skew the stats.

    It’s always cheaper in bulk.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  10. PJ says:

    @al-Ameda:

    John Paul 2 was pope during the molestation scandals and evidently he and his leadership did nothing.

    Don’t worry, Papal infallibility dictates that whatever John Paul 2 did was correct.

    @Pinky:

    Well, to be fair, that number includes Antonio Primaldo and Companions (800 total). You canonize a group like that, it’s going to skew the stats.

    It’s always cheaper in bulk.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. PJ says:

    2 comments for the price of 1!

    Sorry.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Pinky says:

    Like you said, cheaper in bulk.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. Me Me Me says:

    Your photo of a vast expensive lavish pile with almost no people in it is very appropriate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0