Jan 152011

by Anura Guruge

On January 14, 2011 the Vatican announced that Venerable John Paul (#265) will be beatified on May 1, 2011, the Sunday after Easter, day of the Divine Mercy, at the Vatican, the Pope Benedict XVI (#266) presiding over the ceremonies (though, per this pope, papal participation in the beatification rites is now optional). This ‘fast-tracked’ beatification [i.e., the prescribed 5-year ‘wait-time’ waived by the pope] will be the fastest known beatification, ever, beating that of Mother Teresa [who was also ‘fast-tracked’] by 15 days!

John Paul II becomes the 11th pope who will be referred to as ‘BLESSED, with 78 popes (and one anti-pope, Hippolytus of Rome [217-235]) having been SAINTED.

Given the Santo Subito! (Saint Immediately!) cries at his funerals, there are millions who are ecstatic at this news. It will also do wonders for the Vatican coffers and the Italian economy, pilgrims and tourist alike known for their unbridled generosity at beatifications — with this pope’s, indubitable, popularity likely to add a whole new positive dimension to the potential largess. However, some, quite rightly, are already questioning the merits of this turbo-charged beatification schedule, with the timing apparently artfully calculated to make it the shortest. [More on this right through this post.] The key problem here is that rather than truly honoring a landmark pope, there now appears to be a touch of ‘nepotism’ — the entire beatification process conducted under the auspices of John Paul II’s acknowledged acolyte.

On Aug. 02, 2010, I posted the time-line for St. Pius X (#258) canonization to serve as a baseline for other canonization schedules — St. Pius X, on May 29, 1954, being the last pope, to date, to be canonized. I updated this chart to reflect John Paul II’s beatification. This chart shows how the ‘fast-track’ beatification time frames for John Paul and Mother Teresa are at odds with all the others.

Pius X canonization time-line, compared to those of others including John Paul II, by Anura Guruge

Pius X canonization time-line, compared to those of others including John Paul II, by Anura Guruge

I then went and looked at the beatification times for all 11 popes.

All eleven Blessed popes with their beatification dates (when avaialble) by Anura Guruge

All eleven Blessed popes with their beatification dates (when avaialble) by Anura Guruge

The data on that chart definitely made me pause for thought. 37 years for Bl. John XXIII (#262) and 122 years for Bl. Pius IX (#256) — average of 345 for the most recent 7 popes … and then 6 years for John Paul II. Here is another data point. John Paul II’s is the only beatification of a pope that occurred entirely within the reign of one pope — his successor. [Yes, Mother Teresa’s beatification occurred, entirely, during the reign of John Paul II, but the the good Mother and the pope didn’t have the same relationship that existed between John Paul II and Benedict XVI).

I did more calculations. [Please, go ahead and check my sums.]

I calculated the beatification times for 131 people beatified by John Paul II (per dates available on this list) … and one of those happens to be Mother Teresa. The average beatification time was 97.5 years. After the good Mother, the next fastest, at 24 years, was María Maravillas de Jesús Pidal (1891-1974), a Spanish nun.

I then calculated the beatification times for this list of 193 people, again including the good Mother from Calcutta. That came to 213 years! On this list, next to Mother Teresa, is Matthew Carrieri, 15th century Dominican friar, at 12 years — but that beatification was in 1482.

Again, I will confess, my perspective, primarily, is always in terms of a papal historian. From that perspective, I ‘worry’ that this unseemingly quick, ‘fast-tracked’ beatification, done entirely under the jurisdiction of his closest collaborator, would be seen in the future as devaluing the honor. I could be wrong. But, others in the media, are already making such claims. See LINK-1, LINK-2 & LINK-3 (scroll down in each case and read the comments). What also seems incongruous, is that these are two popes supposedly known for being traditional and loathe to deviate what is said to be ‘tried and tested.’ Then, they deviate, off the charts, in this instance.

The miracle attributed to the pope is also ironic and again already generating comment. He is said to have cured the French nun, Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre of Parkinson’s — an illness that inflicted the pope. During his long tenure there must have been other miracles — and another needs to be documented if he is to be canonized, as will surely be the case. It might have looked better if another miracle had been used. But, c’est la vie.

Matthew Carrieri

  20 Responses to “Ven. John Paul II To Be Beatified May 1, 2011 — Fastest Beatification, EVER; 2,220 Days”

  1. Viva Jesu,
    I’m not sure one can pick and choose what miracle to be used or not.
    Regarding the seemingly quick…etc… Pope Benedict really was following the voices and hearts of the people who proclaimed him: Santo Subito. at his funeral mass.It was with one voice. I could be wrong.

  2. So, after John Paul II, the next quickest canonization was that of Celestine V. While I have no objection at all to his sainthood, it is interesting that he was canonized by pope Clement V, a Frenchman, the first of the popes residing in Avignon, the same who supressed the Templars. Philip IV “the Fair” was still alive in 1313 when Celestine was canonized. Philip surely seized another opportunity to humiliate his late arch-enemy Boniface VIII, the successor of Celestine V who had him imprisoned (and probably even poisoned or murdered). I can make a general conclusion for both Celestine V and John Paul II: while their sainthood is not to be disputed, the quick process of canonization/beatification is surely a result of political motives.

  3. Of course, listening to “voices and hearts” (as John joseph said) may have a political motive: do something to please the faithful. I don’t know whether other miracles have been proven, but since John Paul II was so much beloved, and is surely addressed my many in their prayers, I would prefer waiting for another miracle. Just because I am sure there will be more.

  4. Marko, my friend,
    As far as I know, Ven. John Paul II is only being BEATIFIED on May 1, 2011. But, you are right. He probably will be canonized shortly. I am sure Benedict XVI will want to have that done during HIS WATCH. So, yes, I would expect the canonization within 24 months — see that of Pius X (#258).
    Marko, that would make his canonization ~8 years. Yes, faster than Celestine V by quite a long chalk. Yes, Celestine’s was all political — for the exact reasons you state. But, I am glad. He is one of my favorite popes. Very underrated and all that talk about him being ‘uneducated’ is bunkum. Recent popes could take lessons from him when it comes to getting it ALL RIGHT when it comes to bulls and edicts. He didn’t leave any loopholes.
    But, Marko, I do not think Celestine V was by any means the FASTEST canonization. 37 years. Nah …
    In the early days, the martyrs got instant canonization. But, my expected 8 years for John Paul II might be close. Not sure I have the time or energy to go check canonization times. We also DO NOT have the dates for the early Martyrs. 8 years will definitely be the FASTEST in ‘recent’ times. No question.
    Thanks, my friend.

  5. Thank YOU, Father.
    As ever, on the mark.
    I just finished leaving a comment for ‘Adam George,’ on the SAME theme as YOUR last point.
    ‘Adam George’ says it is OK if BXVI overrode Pope John Paul II’s wishes, stated clearly in his will … because BXVI is now pope!
    Glad to have you back. WE have missed you and your incomparable insights.
    All the best. Anura

  6. Dear Father,
    Re. the idolatry … how can WE forget that much of the unspeakable clergy sex abuse scandal took place during John Paul II’s reign. I didn’t want to bring this up till now … but I was GLAD to see that the very popular, (free if you are staying at an hotel) US paper, USA Today carried this article.

  7. Wow, another very thoughtful piece … and as ever with intellectual gems I treasure. I loved learning ‘Sé non é vero é ben trovato‘. Your mastery of languages leaves me in awe.
    Father, I will again show my ignorance (and my laziness in not first looking it up). Does the Orthodox church have anything equivalent to cardinals or is just bishops and patriarchs. Why, am I asking. With your talents I am sure you would have been a cardinal in the Catholic church.
    I need to kick around your piece in my head. I think I follow what you are getting at. But, I am not sure that it permits B XVI to step out of the shadow. BUT, you may be right. I need to think about it. Way I see it, goes back to what you said yesterday. The beatification makes his shadow even bigger.
    I will be back.
    Father, any thoughts on Car. Bertone? Have you met him?
    P.S., Father Anthony is in Tunisia. We talked before he left, that being a country I had visited a number of times too … but in the 1980s. I am sure he will be fine.
    Thank you.

  8. Again, I will confess, my perspective, primarily, is always in terms of a papal historian. From that perspective, I ‘worry’ that this unseemingly quick, ‘fast-tracked’ beatification, done entirely under the jurisdiction of his closest collaborator, would be seen in the future as devaluing the honor.

    I might offend some people here, but I think JP2 went a long way toward devaluing the honor through “sainthood inflation”. He canonized 483 and beatified 1340 people, which is more than other popes did over the last 5 centuries!
    I think the same thing applies to sainthood as Jubal Hershaw said about PhDs in Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land:
    “I don’t like to be called ‘Doctor.’. . . Oh, I’m not offended. But when they began handing out doctorates for comparative folk dancing and advanced fly-fishing, I became too stinkin’ proud to use the title. I won’t touch watered down whiskey and I take no pride in watered-down degrees . . . it is time they called it something else, so as not to have it mixed up with playground supervisors.”
    It’s not just the sheer number of people being declared saints nowadays, it’s the weak requirements. Didn’t 4 miracles used to be required for beatification, and now only one? And the nature of these “miracles” is of questionable faith healings (no restoration of missing limbs here, which would really impress me) that are more usually associated with the likes of Benny Hinn.
    There have already been serious doubt advanced over the supposed Mother Teresa miracle by both her doctors and husband (the claim is that the supposed tumor was just an infected cyst that was successfully treated with antibiotics, not prayer and amulets). How long until the nun who has supposedly been cured of Parkinson is being seriously questioned? Also, the Vatican should not have abolished the office of the Devil’s Advocate – it lends some credibility to the process if the case against beatification/canonization is made forcefully.

    I could be wrong. But, others in the media, are already making such claims. See LINK-1, LINK-2 & LINK-3 (scroll down in each case and read the comments).

    The comment comparing sainthood to being made a Jedi knight really cracked me up. 🙂

  9. Dear Father,
    I read and re-read what you had to say about Bertone.
    Father, am I right in thinking that you don’t actually say why Bertone is not papabile — other than draw a parallel with Villot.
    Father, I had given the Villot matter some consideration and even gone back and read the lead ups to the two 1978 conclaves.
    Here is my take. At the first conclave they had their heart set on electing another Italian per the norm. So Villot, as a Frenchman, was not a serious contender. Willebrands was mentioned … but was like Arinze in 2005. Note that Wojtyla was never even mentioned. Plus, the late start of the conclave, Villot having to work out how to accommodate 100+ electors gave him a reputation, right ahead of the conclave, as being not too savvy.
    Then came the 2nd conclave.
    The transformation of the mind-set was amazing. There is talk that there was lot of Opus Dei involvement in the 2nd conclave. [But, why not in the first?]
    Now there was talk of a non-Italian pope. But, Villot had totally blown it with the handling of poor John Paul I’s death and funeral.
    So that is my take on Villot.
    So some differences from Bertone … and I understand that Bertone is getting ‘up there’ in age.
    I don’t think his lack of English should be a problem.
    Was reading just yesterday, that Sarto was told at the conclave itself … by a French cardinal … that he could not be the pope because he didn’t speak French!
    Thank you, father. All the best.

  10. Dear Father,
    You never cease to amaze me! Your wealth of knowledge on such a broad spectrum of topics is truly humbling. I applaud you.
    What you say, as ever, all makes sense.
    In the example of the parish priest … first young … then the next … focus on old. Father, isn’t that the principle that got translated into: ‘one fat pope is followed by a think pope’ — where the metaphor covers more than just physical appearance.
    I see EXACTLY what you are saying. I call it the JP II franchise.
    Now, with B XVI they specifically wanted THE PERSON best suited to continue that franchise.
    What you are saying is that the cardinals might … after … 32 years … may feel the need for CHANGE.
    I can buy that.
    What happens IF … they still decide that they want to continue, unbroken and seamlessly … THE FRANCHISE … because I think (and I could be wrong) that many cardinals are EXTREMELY happy and comfortable with the THE FRANCHISE?
    They essentially have two obvious options: Bertone or Little Ratzinger. The latter is young, Spanish and from what I have gathered not exactly charismatic.
    From the pictures and videos I have seen Bertone comes across as congenial. He actually SMILES.
    But, thank YOU, father. Now I understand … and have a better picture.
    In closing though … can I assume that you will agree with me … that if the franchise was to be extended Bertone stands a fairly good chance.
    Thank you, father.
    All the best.
    P.S., Father, you will shortly see a comment from a compatriot of yours about Cardidal v. Schönborn. Could you PLEASE comment. That would be great.

  11. Dear Father,
    Thank you, yet again. As ever, insightful and thought provoking.
    Father, my FAVORITE is Ouellet. I identified him in 2008 and made him #3 in my papabili list that that time. I think his star continues in the ascend and he, but for his youth, is the tailor-made, compromise candidate.
    Bertone is my favorite for the John Paul II franchise scenario — which I see that Marko, this morning, vehemently opposes. I will deal with that separately.
    Yes, Father, I do remember, well, your thesis about the next pope coming from Italy. What I am not sure is how that would coalesce; i.e., why would non-Italians, today, vote PURELY on the basis of wanting a Italian pope. I certainly see them voting for qualified Italians … like Ravisi, Scola and Antonelli — but I make a distinction between voting for a qualified Italian vs. voting to have a pope from Italy.
    Father, our discussions as comments kind of get buried and I am ANXIOUS that people get to see YOUR views … because as with dear Father Anthony (currently in Tunisia) … I, for one, value and treasure your UNIQUE insights, knowledge and intellect.
    So, I will do another papabili post today and refer to these comments.
    I will e-mail you Father, as well as leave a comment here, when the post is up. OK?
    Thank you.
    With much affection, Anura

  12. Dear Father,
    We ARE in AGREEMENT as to the number of extraordinarily qualified Italian candidates. No question about that.
    Father, you yourself addressed the biggest ‘negative’ I have heard (from people via e-mail) about Ravasi … he is ALL curial, no pastoral. That may NOT be a problem. Bl. J 23, in reality, had very little pastoral experience and it was all at the end.
    Right now I am only looking 9 to 12 months ahead. So really not much time for Ravasi to get his feet under a table at an Archdiocese.
    Scola, YES. He has been on my list since 2008.

    Father, I am writing the promised post … even as we ‘speak’ now. Can I please go and finish that. I think I will answer some of your questions in that post. [[ smile, smile ]]

    THANK YOU. All the very best. Anura

  13. Dear Father,
    Please see.
    I hope I answered as many questions as possible.
    Thank you.
    Father, your insights will be, as ever, invaluable to me.

  14. Dear Father,
    No doubt it was the lateness of your post. One o’clock is even late for me. I try to stop typing by about 12:20am. Leave my desk ~12:30am. Get to bed about 12:40. Then, I like to read.

    Father, you are, of course, right about Benedict XV — just 101 days as cardinals.

    But, his successor, Achille Ratti, Pius XI (#260), was also only a cardinal for less than a year — 238 days; created June 13, 1921, pope February 6, 1922.

    Scola (1941 — hence 70 years old), Ravasi (1942), Sandri (1943), Ouellet (1944), your friend Schonborn (1945) are all in a ‘tight bracket’ in terms of age. I think they are ALL too young.

    Bertone (1934), Antonelli (1936), Bergoglio S.J. (1936) are all better poised IF there were to be a conclave in 2011. I personally don’t think we will see a conclave for another 5 years. Yes, that will put the pope at 88 … but Georg, is still alive, at 89.

    THANK you. Waiting anxiously for your input. All the best.

  15. Dear Father,
    As ever, so useful. THANK YOU. Have you met with the Cardinal recently? The two of you could have such wonderful conversations.
    Father, you must have heard of the book Barbarin wrote with a rabbi. Conversations with a rabbi or similar.
    Wow. What I wouldn’t give for a book about Tuesday afternoons with Father Peter and Cardinal Schönorn. Between the two of you, you could clear up and clean up so much.

    Father, could you PLEASE, if willing, wade into this V II Rollback issue … where I have a number of people telling me that JP II nor B XVI have/had no intention of ever diluting V II … just making it stronger … e.g., the existence of the very powerful Synod of Bishops. [Ooops. Did I sound too sarcastic. Another of my many faults. Cynicism, sarcasm and yes, even arrogance. There is little hope for me. I can already see the flames.]


  16. Dear Father,
    Thank YOU. Very interesting about your Metropolitan. I assume he is your boss.
    Well, in my book, being called a ZEALOT is always a COMPLIMENT.
    To be a zealot you need conviction, commitment, passion and courage. Bravo.
    If I TRY to read between the lines, I get the impression that your Metropolitan is hoping for reconciliation (or some sort) at some point … while you (in my opinion, correctly) appreciates that that is unlikely and that if it were to occur that there is unlikely to be any compromises.
    I am surprised that you use the word ‘diplomatic’ to describe Schönborn.
    I always got the impression that he liked publicity and will say provocative things, whether he really believes in them or not, to get media attention. He certainly did not appear to have been diplomatic as to what he said of the Dean.
    Again, you will know more of this than I do, didn’t he really ruffle feathers when he took over the Archdiocese. The words I have read were along the lines of ‘walker over anybody and everybody to get what he wanted achieved.’
    I noticed he didn’t make your papabili list. He is no longer on mine either.
    I REALLY like your summary of what happened post Vatican II.
    Council of Trent. Now that was a Council.
    Maybe IF we really dig deep and hard we might be able to find that the Council was never properly concluded after 18 years … and thus, maybe, still in session though nobody realizes it!
    Thank you, as ever Father.
    I think I should go and do a bit more shoveling and then work on dwarf planets.
    All the very best.

  17. I am surprised that you use the word ‘diplomatic’ to describe Schönborn.
    I always got the impression that he liked publicity and will say provocative things, whether he really believes in them or not, to get media attention. He certainly did not appear to have been diplomatic as to what he said of the Dean.

    Or of evolution. Or of priestly celibacy. Yes, the count surely likes to speak his mind. But perhaps he is more guarded in private.

  18. […] Mother Teresa’s record-setting fast-track to sainthood will be shattered by Pope John Paul II by 15 days.  For both, the 5-year wait time was waived. […]

  19. Obviously sainthood doesn’t mean very these days. The vat is issuing sainthoods like a drunken Fed issuing dollars.

    It’s just soapium for the masses anyway only now the church has to lift a flagging support base with more saintly currency.

  20. Just so others don’t get confused, yesterday was ONLY a beatification. Sainthood will probably be next April to coincide with the anniversary of his death.

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