More from “the Heart of Darkness”

Sorry about the silence – I’ve been busy. Still am. This is just another quick “pop-in” on the same subject as below.

There is obviously no shortage of Catholics willing to bag everything good in the Church at the moment, and to do this publically. The latest example is this deplorable discussion of the legacy of John Paul II on ABC Radio National’s Late Night Live with Philip Adams. His guests are Paul Collins (no surprise) and Michael Walsh, described as:

Author, historian and former librarian of Heythrop College, London. He is author of “The Secret World of Opus Dei”, an early biography of John Paul II, published by Harpers; his latest, a history of the College of Cardinals.

In fact, his book on Opus Dei and his book on John Paul II are two separate works. You can read something of what Walsh had to say about Benedict and John Paul II here before the visit to the UK. You can also read something of what Simon Rowney had to say about Walsh on Cathnews here last year.

Basically, the LNL piece on John Paul II entirely focuses on his blameworthiness (to use an ugly word) in regard to the abuse scandal. When this is the sole focus of the discussion, it is easy to see why it is a big ask for some people to see the former pope as a saint. But it seems an incredible travesty to view the life of Karol Wojtyla through this prism. It is an exact parallel – and one actually made explicit in the LNL discussion – to the way in which Venerable Pius XII is viewed through the “Hitler’s Pope” prism. Aside from the fact that a judgement of heroic virtue and personal sanctity refers to the life of the individual and not to any historical circumstances or mistakes that they may have made, it is a complete distortion of the story.

One argument that Paul Collins uses is that “saints should be role models”; and thus he approves of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, but disapproves of John Paul II. Well, go figure. If you can’t find something in John Paul II’s life and character to take as a role model for your own life, you are either ignorant or aren’t trying. Or both. Still, the Church does not make but rather recognises sainthood. The process of beatification and canonisation is not a program for making pin-up poster-boys/girls for Catholics. It is recognising people for who they are in the sight of God.

John Paul II was a gift from God to the Church and the world at just the time when we needed his strong hand and guidance. Was he perfect? No. Was he a saint*? The Church says “yes” and I, thinking with the Church, agree.

We should not whitewash the sins and failings of Catholics, certainly not the failings of our Popes. Every saint, every Catholic, is a human being. Saints are not people who never sinned, nor people who, as judged by those with the benifit of hindsight**, never made mistakes. They are people in whom the holiness of Christ shone with beauty and light for the world. It will remain a mystery to me why good Catholic people feel that they are doing the work of Christ by publically presenting the darkest view of the Church that they can achieve.

[* I am using the word “saint” in the broad sense – I know he is not yet canonised.]

[** I like this Wikipedia entry on “Hindsight Bias”:

“Hindsight bias is the inclination to see events that have occurred as being more predictable than they were before they took place. Hindsight bias has been demonstrated experimentally in a variety of settings, including politics, games and medicine.[1] In psychological experiments of hindsight bias, subjects also tend to remember their predictions of future events as having been stronger than they actually were, in those cases where those predictions turn out correct. This inaccurate assessment of reality after it has occurred is also referred to as “creeping determinism”.

]

About Schütz

I am Catholic, married to Cathy, father of Maddy & Mia. Since 2002, I have been the Executive Officer of the Ecumenical & Interfaith Commission of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. I was once a Lutheran pastor, but a "year of grace" and soul-searching led me into the Catholic Church. It was a bumpy ride, but with the support of my (still Lutheran) wife, I was finally confirmed on June 16, 2003.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to More from “the Heart of Darkness”

  1. Terra says:

    Notwithstanding the players involved (all my old favourites, including Stephen Crittendon as producer/researcher), and noting that I haven’t yet heard the whole thing, I don’t think that this is quite in the same category as those who are attacking defined doctrines )not that Collins and co do that too, but not so much here!).

    First beatification is not an infallible declaration of sainthood. We are still a step or two away from that.

    Secondly, though there are many saints, the Church does only choose to canonise a few of them – and while as you suggest there are many positive things one can look to in Pope John Paul II’s life, it surely is legitimate to debate whether or not the positives outweigh the negatives in terms of their teaching value to the faithful. This is a pastoral judgment, and hasn’t finally been made yet.

    Thirdly, while the ABC program focuses on the abuse scandal, there are many other areas where the late Pope ran into criticism (such as Koran kissing etc), and there is in my view a legitimate debate on whether enough time has yet passed to make an objective judgment on their relative place in his life.

    Finally, while there is a saint for everyone, not every saint is for everyone!

  2. Tony says:

    I think it again illustrates the wisdom the church’s traditional approach which was that time was an important part of the canonizationi process in that it filtered out the contempory ‘noise’ (for and against).

    They are people in whom the holiness of Christ shone with beauty and light for the world.

    But if you are a victim of abuse or you care about those victims, that light is somewhat dimmed. Holiness is not some abstract concept separate from the legacy of a person.

    Finally, this ‘heart of darkness’ stuff is journalistic hyperbole of the lowest kind. You may have all sorts of substantial issues with what people say, David, but you cannot claim to know their hearts.

  3. marcel says:

    The speed od this beatification is quite unfathomable. The case of the Legionaires and the late Pope is quite unfathomable. The deplorable state of Papal liturgies during the last pontificate, well… you get the picture. Notorious, heretical and irrelevant lefties oppose beatifications because they don’t believe in the beati (or more to the point they believe everyone is beati). However, many loyal Roman Catholics are also troubled by the legacies of the last pontificate and I am not talking about the equally irrelevant sedevacantists, but rather those loyal Catholics who were deeply wounded by the Church’s liberalisations in many pastorally significant areas)…

    • Tony says:

      QED, David? Even if we discard Marcel’s ‘notorious, heretical and irrelevant lefties’, is it that his club of ‘loyal Roman Catholics’ are not thinking with the mind of the church?

      • Schütz says:

        I’m just saying, can’t any of you – on either side – see the wood for the trees? What prism are you using to assess the sanctity of this man?

        • marcel says:

          In my opinion the ‘personal sanctity’ prism that the beatification proponents would have us look exclusively through is one view, but not the only one. There have been two canonised Popes since the reformation: Pius V and Pius X. Add John Paul II to that and then pick the odd one out of that terna… No, it’s not just his nationality and chosen name. I do not know enough of Pope John Paul II to talk of his personal sanctity, I also wonder whether those supporting the beatification know him very well either. The story of his Papacy has largely been written by adulators and haters… and that is the problem with speedy beatifications, because dispassionate appraisal is impossible.

          Assisi on its own would give the (abandoned) devil’s advocate more work than he could wade through in a decade. The timeframes thus far only increase the incredulity of it all.

        • Tony says:

          I’m not saying that he’s not a saint, David, and my ‘prism’ doesn’t particularly come into it, but despite the exceptions you’ve mentioned, the church has mostly taken its time in these matters even with what we’ve come to regard as the holiest of saints.

          I just can’t see any reason why this form of traditional wisdom should be discarded. What is the case for (relative) speed here?

          Beyond that, you seem to deny that there are very real concerns about him coming from a cross section of the church or, if you don’t deny it, you don’t seem to think it matters or that the concerns have no bearing on his sanctity.

          I think that is a prism, David.

        • Tony says:

          What prism are you using to assess the sanctity of this man?

          I was thinking about the notion of a prism this morning when I saw on the news that another family in Afghanistan has been wiped out at a supermarket by a suicide bomber presumably for the glory of ‘Allah’.

          When it comes to disputes of a religious kind, the people behind those attrocities are the ones with a ‘heart of darkness’.

          I can’t help but think that someone who sees internal disagreements of the kind you’ve blogged about as ‘hearts of darkeness’ is failing to see the ‘prism’ in his own eye?

  4. Matthias says:

    adams must have been salivating at the the thought of attacking a Pope. Pity the man has an appalling relationship with his grown up daughters from his first marriage- one of them gave my mother’s euology

  5. matthias says:

    That should have been a comma after “Pity the man, ” thus not uncharitable just a sad observaiton by someone who happens to know some of the family dynamics.,and really i think Adams for all of his bravo and his lovely partner Patric Newell,is really a sad man deep down. I do have more regard for him than for Hitchens and Dawkins.
    As for irrelvant not really because if you recall Tonster, (HT Gareth) Adams father was a Congregational minister and thus Adams deep and abiding hatred of Christianity comes from his relationship with his dad. it may also have been the theological liberalism that permeated the Congregational church in his childhood that contributed to his anti Christian views. Thus not really either uncharitable or irrelvant Tony. Have a nice day nurse.

    • Tony says:

      Your corrections may mitigate against any reference to ‘uncharitable’, Matthias — or should it be ‘Matster’? — but they’re still not relevant. We all bring our histories to this and other tables, but they should become part of a discussion unless we want them to.

      As for Adams ‘hating’ the church — or to use your hyperbole, ‘deep and abiding hatred’ — I’ve heard some really great, in-depth, positive discussions on LNL with people of faith. It’s clear that he’s an in-your-face atheist and, at times, a quite unreasonable critic, but ‘deep and abiding hatred’? Are you trying to out-hyperbole David?

  6. matthias says:

    No Tone never would I out hyperbole our superb host.
    However the crux is that Adam’s dislikes the Pope because of what he- Benedict -stands for ,and what it remidns Adams of,so there is nothing irrelevant in my remarks,unless you are just wanting to act the purist. We all being our histories yes,and they influence our beliefs,biases and attitudes-Christians or non Christian.

    • Tony says:

      Matthias,

      I would contend that you don’t actually know these things about Phillip Adams:
      – that he is or was ‘salivating at the the thought of attacking a Pope’,
      – that he ‘is really a sad man deep down’,
      – that he has a ‘deep and abiding hatred of Christianity’
      or even the much more moderate
      – that he ‘dislikes the Pope because of what he stands for’.

      BUT, assuming you could know such things, they are not relavant to any arguments he makes or the guests he has on his show.

      I seem to recall a statement on the old Sentire site about a committment to logical argument. Your observations — or, to be more accurate, speculations — don’t advance any counter argument against Adams, in fact, I think they diminish genuine critical engagement.

      If that makes me a purist, so be it.

      I saw a critical reference to the Canadian Bishop’s pastoral letter on human sexuality the other day. The blogger asked ‘what would these bitter old queens know about it?’ as, more or less, his opening critical gambit. Maybe you’d have no trouble recognising the problem with that kind of ‘prism’?

  7. matthias says:

    i stand by what i said, so drop the high handedness . And if you had ever listened to adams when he was on MELBOURNE radio then you wouild know what he was on about .My dear old Mum use to get very upset and write to him he would reply with great politeness and then state his case. which was anti church ,anti christian and anti the Papacy. Unless you know what it is like to grow up in a non catholic household where the Pope and all ‘of his works” were held up for ridicule ,and especially in the Proddy manses of Adam’s generation then you have no idea how ingrained it is. my own brother-a church of Christ minister-now a radical socialist ,virtually became apoplexic when i told him i was contemplating joining the Catholic church. The hatred in his speech is exactly the same type of phrases that adams has used.
    Any way drop it Tony. Your betetr educated than me

    • Tony says:

      i stand by what i said, so drop the high handedness.

      So do I and I certainly reject your insinuation that I’m either a ‘purist’ or ‘high handed’.

      And if you had ever listened to adams when he was on MELBOURNE radio then you wouild know what he was on about.

      But how is that relevant to the discussion?

      My dear old Mum use to get very upset and write to him he would reply with great politeness and then state his case. which was anti church ,anti christian and anti the Papacy.

      With due respect to your Mum, I still don’t think it either reliable evidence OR relevant to the discussion.

      Unless you know what it is like to grow up in a non catholic household where the Pope and all ‘of his works” were held up for ridicule ,and especially in the Proddy manses of Adam’s generation then you have no idea how ingrained it is. my own brother-a church of Christ minister-now a radical socialist ,virtually became apoplexic when i told him i was contemplating joining the Catholic church. The hatred in his speech is exactly the same type of phrases that adams has used.

      I guess you’re seeing Adam’s through the prism of your own experience.

      Any way drop it Tony. Your betetr educated than me

      That’s another thing you don’t know.

  8. matthias says:

    Tone let ‘s agree to disagree and get on with life instead of hanging around here all day

    • Gareth says:

      That wouldn’t be the Tonernator that we know and dare I say, love.

    • Tony says:

      More than happy to do so, Matthias, but when you say stuff about me that I think needs a response, I may choose to respond. I certainly don’t object to ‘agreeing to disagree’ but ‘high handedness’ is something else.

      As for Garfield’s comments … nuf said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *