The Canonization of John Paul II and John XXIII and “Traditionalist” Pusillanimity

On this Quasimodo ( Dominica in albis, Low, and Divine Mercy) Sunday, I am shocked at the pusillanimity of some of the so-called traditionalists in the Church. A great gift has been given to the whole of the Church with SS. John XXIII and John Paul II and yet, some traditionalists foment an attitude of “hunkering down” and the “enduring” the authentic joy of the Church on this day. Likewise, other traditionalist types ask why Blessed Pius IX or Ven. Pius XII have not been canonized? It is one thing to ask questions such as the latter which are legitimate; it is also legitimate to question whether politics or political correctness play a role in the canonization process, for they shouldn’t. But the means and manner in which one asks these things or expresses them–especially as directed toward the Church’s Supreme Authority–is also an important matter especially in this post-Christian age. I wonder if it ever occurs to these people that they are furthering the inauthentic imposed division between a so-called pre-Vatican II Church and a post-Vatican II Church. Instead of thinking with the one Church or employing a hermeneutic of continuity, they perpetrate a divide that was crafted largely by liberals–and by liberals, I mean those genuine modernists infected with a fascination for novelty and largely driven by a desire to overturn traditional Catholic thinking, discipline, and morality. Ultimately, along with the liberals, the–what I will call–“jihadi-traditionalists,” in their rhetorical expressions and lack of docility toward the Supreme Pastor, perpetuate a division in the Church and weaken the Church Militant.

johnxxiii-mass-1These jihadi-traditionalist types seek an absolute spotless reality, a utopia that has never existed in the Church’s life throughout all the centuries. I suspect that they sometimes forget that we live in a vale of tears and imagine–somehow–that there was a time when Catholic discipline and belief was uniform with such military precision that the peasant and the prince never broke a fast, fell asleep at Mass, or slept with his neighbor. Au contraire. The Church has always been at war–even within her members. The Devil knows Scripture and Catholic doctrine better than we do and he seeks to undercut it by exaggeration or diminution by whatever means possible.

The jihadi-traditionalists give the impression of military discipline, yet they routinely disobey orders from the Supreme Commander. Instead of following the model of great heroes such as Cardinal Siri, Cardinal Mindszenty, Cardinal Oddi, Fr. Hardon, and countless other priests and laity in their obedience and fidelity to the Roman Church’s Supreme Pastor, they make themselves de facto judges of his decisions–an attitude St. Pius X condemned. Theirs is a way of living in which they are never satisfied. In pursuing such a modus operandi the legitimate questions they ask are obscured by their tactics and their perpetual bombast. And, dare I say it, the latter are the breeding ground for a loss of faith in Christ and the forming of an anti-papal Christianity, which–in their case–becomes some bizarre sort of Catholic-looking Protestantism.

On the flip side, people who know me will verify that I am a curmudgeon of the first degree and that “rah rah Catholicism” is one of the things of the modern age that I find detestable. The proliferation of “hipster Catholicism” reduces the profundity of the message of Christ and the Church to an exercise in banality or flippancy. Modern popularizers of Catholic teachings who have the veneer of orthodoxy but tend towards being tremendous capitalists with cottage industries promoting their own personalities and making money off the Church are distasteful. Slick presentations of the faith count for far less than down-to-earth, getting one’s hands dirty with the job of day-to-day living and day-to-day devotion. In a way, their approach is similar to the jihadi-traditionalist. There seems to be a constant pusillanimity: pointing to oneself or a particular idea instead of pointing to the Lord and the constant teaching of the Church.

Sistina JP II Ene-09-2000-1Indeed, saints are those who point to the Lord. The witness of John XXIII and John Paul II attest to this humble pointing to the Lord and the living out of the faith. Jihadi-traditionalists and hipster Catholics both trivialize the heroic sanctity of these wonderful men of the Church. The former tend to be armchair theologians who will sift any and every single word or breath of the former Pontiffs in order to trip them up, not satisfied with the duly appointed historical and theological experts of the Church (*or even the judgement of Pope Benedict XVI); the latter, while praising the Popes, restrict themselves to the ephemeral. Anyone who reads the diaries of John XXIII or the profundity of the defense of Catholic doctrine and morals by John Paul II must admit that these were two sinners who, by the grace of God, were elected to the Chair of Peter, and to the best of their abilities guided the Church amidst turbulent times. Likewise in their personal living, they strove for holiness and achieved it to an heroic degree under sometimes the direst of circumstances. Now the Supreme Authority of the Church has declared that it has been proved to its satisfaction that their sanctity is worthy of the name Saint and the veneration of the Catholic world.

People need not have to have devotion to these individuals, but they do need to have faith in Christ and the promise He made to His Church and be docile to an act of the Magisterium that is to be definitively held:  that Pope St. John XXIII and Pope St. John Paul II are to be inserted alongside Pope St. Pius X and Pope St. Pius V in the catalogue of pope-saints.

Saints John and John Paul, pray for us.

(And may Blessed Pius IX join their number soon!)



This article, The Canonization of John Paul II and John XXIII and “Traditionalist” Pusillanimity is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.

John M. DeJak

John M. DeJak is an attorney and Latin teacher and works in academic administration. He writes from Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • Are canonizations ex cathedra pronouncements? Yes and No! say the experts.

    YES, without a doubt, under the rigorous doctrinal, investigative, and historical safeguards and the traditional intention to infallibly canonize that existed under the pre-John Paul II, canonization rules; the ones in place at the time of Vatican Council I.

    NO, without a doubt, under John Paul II’s Modernist canonization rules wherein the Pope does not intervene as Supreme Pontiff, but rather as the representative of the collegial magisterium of the bishops. Since, under these Modernist rules, the Pope reserves to himself only the power to confirm the judgment of the bishops, such canonizations are no longer guaranteed by the personal infallibility of the Pope’s solemn magisterium.

    It is illogical to use Catholic Tradition to validate canonizations that break with Catholic Tradition, i.e., those performed according to John Paul II’s new, Modernist rules that break with Catholic Tradition. The new, non-traditional, Modernist canonization rules logically produce new, non-traditional, non-infallible results.

  • Pasquino says:

    El Nuevo–indeed your qualifications and academic and spiritual pedigree are sufficient to judge the Roman Pontiff. As such, a little article from the Bellarmine Forum need not bother you. Indeed, you are made for bigger things. Pius X’s admonition to the faithful to never presume to judge the Roman Pontiff obviously doesn’t apply to you as you are in a class by yourself. I am interested in your reasoning, agree with it, and can only lament the fact that the Holy See did not consult you before raising John XXIII and John Paul II to the honors of the altar.

    The language of canonization invoking an exercise of the Supreme Magisterium is not enough to your just and exacting standards. Indeed, you have shown the way. I will refrain from acknowledging or praying to the two popes mentioned herein. According to your wise counsel, I will endeavor also not acknowledge or pray to any of the individuals mentioned in the Roman Canon as their canonizations were not according to the exacting standards you cite, but rather by the acclamation of the faithful. Once again, El Nuevo, you shown us the way. Let us not rest until all these issues are rectified!

  • […] to be a clever ploy to set up for a full assault to come this weekend in response to our own Mr. Dejak’s post regarding traditionalist pusillanimity.  (also available here on the […]

  • Janet Baker says:

    “But the means and manner in which one asks these things or expresses them–especially as directed toward the Church’s Supreme Authority–is also an important matter especially in this post-Christian age. ”

    I can’t believe it–agree with the content and disdain the style. Oh grow up!

    The only people who can afford this kind of criticism are comfortable ones. Because the errors presently being entertained in the liberal Church of today hurt human beings. They fuel homosexuality and the sex trades and the destruction of women’s safe harbor of marriage and humane treatment of workers and truth in lending and more equitable distribution of income and even the beginning of a deeply Catholic campaign for more equitable distribution of ownership. Waffling fuels it! Liberalism’s failure to assert genuine Catholic solutions to all these wounds hurts human beings! It hurts them on earth and then it helps rob them of heaven. We need an assertive Church, assertive about sin, assertive about solutions; and the traditional solutions, like religious tolerance but never religious liberty, worked just fine and would work again, had not the Church capitulated on this and the other two issues on the table. The solution and the only solution to the crisis we are suffering is Christ at the center of our society. It is a very hard truth.

    There is no style change on Earth that would make the reality more palatable. Would you please, please, please discuss the issues and not the faces! See, I said please. What more is necessary? What style do you want, other than more and more and more capitulation, until we are truly reduced to slavery?

  • Peter Rother says:

    DeJak, man, you’ve got some serious baditude issues. >: / I was like all offended where you like dissed “hipster Catholicism.” : ( Chillax, dude, Christ is cool!

  • mr. baker says:

    I just don’t see the point of this article. Are you trying to bring your fellow Catholics along and provide some clarity to their confusion by calling them names? Or is it, “Hey, look at me. I have it all figured out. And since I have it all figured out, I have a right to call you names.” So so tired of every blogger trying to come up with the cutest name for whatever group they disagree with, from Ferrara’s “Neocon” moniker to the “Rad Trad.”. At least those kind of make sense, though. “Jihadi Tradititionalist”? What does that even mean? The “hipster” reference was cool though. I dug that one. That one was funny because I am not a hipster, and it’s fun to laugh at people different than me.

    The only group of traditionalists I have seen criticize the Canonizations are the SSPX. I guess I should at least give you credit for rightly referring to them as “in the Church.”

    Saints John and John Paul, please pray for ALL of us.

  • Pete Frey says:

    no mention of course of the objections of “jihadi christians” to John Paul “the great’s” koran kissing, liturgical abuses and potted-palm holding ecumenical love feasts at Asissi. All of them serious scandals which previous popes would have condemned.

    • Michael Jones says:

      Perhaps some of the Traditional Catholics voiced their disapproval of these canonizations with less than perfect charity. Forgive them. But also please consider the points they make – those made with charity or not: Those two popes, while perhaps humble, virtuous, and even personally holy men, just don’t seem to be the stuff of saints; at least not yet by any appearances. After all, canonization is not the Catholic version of the academy awards, and it should not be primarily based on current popularity.

      If these men, to use a Gospel reference, are good trees, how come their fruit (dramatic loss of faith, reverence, vocations, Mass attendance, the scandals, etc.) is often so rotten?

      • John M. DeJak says:

        I suppose these questions are best directed towards Benedict XVI.

        • Michael A. Jones says:

          Agreed. And of course, he knows far more than you or I know about all of this; I readily admit that. My point and my concern is that there seems to be a shift away from what the Church, all of her councils, and almost all of her popes, have taught, into what seems to be Modernism. And to appear (I did say, “appear”) to canonize Modernism is, to many Catholics – especially those referred to as Traditional – scandalous. Perhaps worse, to those Catholics who are not nearly as informed as you or your readers, there is a danger that everything these two Popes did and taught (Assisi comes to mind) will be seen as right and true. The clarity and tone of articles by you and your colleagues is a great help. That’s why I was somewhat disappointed in the title of your article. I do know that some of us can get to be self-righteous sometimes. I shall pray for truth and unity, according to the Mind and Heart of Christ.

          • John M. DeJak says:

            Thanks for your comment, Michael. I agree wholeheartedly. Oremus pro invicem et Ecclesia.

  • Greg says:

    I fail to see how Pope Pius Xth and JP2 can both be “saints” in Heaven.

    JP2 was a modernist and very explicitly, obviously, unashamedly and undeniably a syncretist, who epoused universal salvation in thought word and deed. These are errors that Pope Pius Xth would have had him excommunicated for had both men existed contemporaneously. For them both to be saints truth would need to be mutable since their faith, acts and teachings were opposed on a number of points.

    If we are going to ignore the elephant in the room then why not St. Mel Gibson, (just ignore the affairs with younger women and bastard children) or St. Michael Jagger?

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