Why is the best city in the world honouring a man who protected one of the most notorious child abusers in the Catholic Church?
by Perry Bulwer
The fast-tracked beatification of Pope John Paul II takes place May 1, 2011 and at the request of the Archbishop of Vancouver the City of Vancouver proclaimed that day “Blessed John Paul II Day in Vancouver”. The four reasons given for that proclamation are: 1) that is the day the Catholic Church will beatify him; 2) he played an unprecedented role in promoting peace and justice around the world; 3) he visited Vancouver once in 1984 and spoke to hundreds of thousands of people; 4) Catholics in Vancouver revere him.
Regarding the fast-tracking of that beatification, which will place John Paul II one step from sainthood, Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, stated at a conference in Rome: "Clearly his cause was put on the fast track, but the process was done carefully and meticulously, following the rules Pope John Paul himself issued in 1983". How convenient. Beatified according to his own rules. But that is not the only ethical lapse in this process. Pope Benedict, who revered John Paul II, will be the first Pope in many centuries to bestow that honour on his immediate predecessor. It is also the fastest trip towards sainthood a Pope has ever taken.
Cardinal Amato explained that “Pope John Paul II is being beatified not because of his impact on history [so much for point 2 in Vancouver's proclamation] or on the Catholic Church [there go points 3 and 4], but because of the way he lived the Christian virtues of faith, hope and love....” He added, candidates must have “... lived the Christian virtues in a truly extraordinary way and ... must be perceived 'as an image of Christ'.” And Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who served as Vatican spokesman under Pope John Paul, explained further that “beatification is not a judgment on a pontificate, but on the personal holiness of the candidate”.
According to those criteria, Pope John Paul II was a virtuous, holy, image of Christ to be imitated by others. But was he? His friendship with and protection of one of the most notorious sexual abusers and pedophiles in the Catholic Church, Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the influential Legionnaires of Christ, suggests otherwise. Bishop Robinson
... described Pope John Paul II’s non-response in the matter of Father Maciel Degollado, head of the traditionalist Legionnaires of Christ, as “a failure of moral leadership on a massive scale.” The late pontiff had access to extensive documentation that Maciel Degollado had sexually abused 30 seminarians from the 1940’s to the 1970s, mostly in Spain and Italy. Some believe the true figure to be much higher.
But John Paul II, a close friend of Maciel Degollado, remained silent. The latter stood at the pope’s right hand during three papal visits to Mexico. Later, John Paul referred to him as “an efficacious guide to youth” and he heaped praise on Maciel Degollado on the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood in 2004.
In her New York Times column, Maureen Dowd recently wrote:
Santo non subito! How can you be a saint if you fail to protect innocent children?
For years after the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder of the Legion of Christ, was formally accused of pedophilia in a Vatican proceeding, he remained John Paul’s pet. The ultra-orthodox Legion of Christ and Opus Dei were the shock troops in John Paul’s war on Jesuits and other progressive theologians.
There was another reason, according to Jason Berry, who has written two books on the abuse crisis and is the author of the forthcoming “Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church.”
“For John Paul,” Berry told me just after returning from Good Friday services, “the priesthood had a romantic, chivalrous cast, and he could not bring himself to do a fearless investigation of the clerical culture itself.
“He was duped by Maciel, but he let himself be duped. When nine people accuse the guy of abusing them as kids, the least you can do is investigate.
“Cardinals and bishops had told him about the larger abuse crisis for years. And he was passive to an absolute fault. He failed in mountainous terms.”
Marcial Maciel did not just sexually abuse seminarians. He is alleged to have fathered at least six illegitimate children and sexually molested at least two of them. Legion of Christ officials, after decades of denial, recently acknowledged their founder had abused seminarians and had sired at least one child. So far, however, the Vatican under Benedict's lead is only interested in reforming the Legion, not shutting down that corrupt order that John Paul II promoted and protected.
If Pope John Paul II was so holy why did he protect a monster like Marcial Maciel, but failed to protect the thousands of children abused by predator priests while he was the head of the church? And as Maureen Dowd asked, “How can you be a saint if you fail to protect innocent children?” That would have been a good question for the bureaucrats at Vancouver City Hall to ask before acquiescing to the archbishop of Vancouver's request for a special day to honour a man who failed to protect innocent children. Perhaps it should have been the survivors and exposers of Catholic clergy abuse who got the special day of honour instead.
How can Pope John Paul II be a saint when thousands of children were raped or molested by priests under his leadership?
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