The Church, Popes, Sainthood and their private lives versus public sermon
by C I Issac on 20 Feb 2016 5 Comments
Earlier, in an article titled ‘Saints for Sale’ (Vijayvaani, May 11, 2009), I wrote about the new trend of the mushrooming births of saints in the galaxy of the Catholic Church.  The Church now considers elevation of some as saints is the stratum to survive in the emerging adverse situations in contemporary Europe and elsewhere.


Pope John Paul II ushered in the canonization of 482 as saints in short duration, and put 300 on different stages of the road to sainthood, an all-time record in the long history of 263 pontiffs so far. He ushered in a new precedence by using fast-track proceedings to elevate persons to sainthood (beatified Mother Theresa on 19 October 2003, the last step to sainthood) through pontifical prerogative. Usually, more than a hundred years was the precedence of a beatification.


The same pontiff is now under a new controversy over illegal relations. Personally I am not against biological laws and do not count them as sin. But my question is whether the Church which stands for the chronic celibacy of shepherds is violating the same in the personal lives of its personnel is true or not?


Senior BBC journalist Edward Stourton has recently revealed a totally unknown face of Pope John Paul II. Stourton’s telecast of a documentary, based on Pope John Paul II’s personal letters, kept at the National Library of Poland, once again reveals the true parallels between pragmatism and sermons existing in the Church since its very inception.


Pope maintained an uninterrupted relationship with a married Polish woman named Anna Teresa Tymieniecka, from 1973 until his death in 2005, a long span of three decades. It is said she died in 2014. Tymieniecka was not an ordinary woman. She was a well-known philosopher and writer of Poland. Edward Stourton had unearthed more than 350 letters between 1973 and till the death of the Pope. The tone of some letters expresses their intense feelings.


In the theological view, feeling and affection between opposite sex is not sin. The affection between Mary Magdalene and Jesus is well debated by present day intellectuals and the theological world. Anyhow, when the New Testament was composed by the Church in the fourth century CE, the editors of the Testament blacked out the Gospels of Mary Magdalene for the reason that sex is ‘original sin’. They misconceived the spirit behind the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Holy Garden and the Seventh Commandment of Moses. The Church still retains the fourth century rustic Roman psyche. That is why the letters of the Pontiff to his loved one became a matter of curiosity.   


In the theological point of view, the Pope had violated the spirit of the Seventh and Tenth Commandments. In the contemporary social and ethical point of view, he had cheated his fellow priestly society, fellow nuns and laity, who blindly retained the belief that ‘sex is sin’. That is why they still follow chronic celibacy. While one was popularizing the Church’s ethical and theological postulates relating to sin, his pragmatic approach was in contrary to it. This is the sum and substance of the contemporary Church.

One can’t blame Pope John Paul II alone. His letters are the best specimens of the forbidden humanism of the Church. It is anyhow interesting to see the biological instinct of eating the ‘forbidden fruit’. He addresses her as, “My dear Teresa,” instead of “in the name of god, etc”. The tone of all letters to Teresa is full of such tender and thrilling loved phrases and idioms.


This is not a new experience to the Church. In its 1691 years of existence, the Church has seen several such Popes. History says that there were 39 Popes who had illegitimate relations with ladies. Some others retained more than one wife. These include: Pope Benedict IX (1032-1044), Pope Alexander (1492-1503), Pope Julius II (1503-1513), Pope Paul III (1534-1549). Pope Pius IV (1559-1565).


The Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy (1309-1377), when seven successive Popes reigned from Avignon, France, rather than Rome, was another disaster that degenerated the papacy.


Some of the Popes who reigned in the Vatican had illegitimate children: Pius II (2 children), Innocent VIII (2 children) and Clement VII (one illegitimate son). However the present news about John Paul II is nothing compared with the above Popes.


The paradox of the matter is that John Paul II was elevated to sainthood (canonized) by Pope Francis on 5 April 2014 (announced on 5 July 2013), by a fast-track process under the precedence created by him for Mother Theresa.


It was the age-old precedence of the Church that before beatifying a person, a close verification of all his letters, writings, personal relations, et al, was necessary. Unfortunately, the Vatican is now silent on this aspect relating to John Paul II. Why did John Paul II’s beatification procedure bypass all these simple checks?


The answer is simple. He is the man behind the dismemberment of the USSR and the impoverishment of communism world over, both of which posed a formidable threat to the Catholic Church. Martyrs and saints are fuel material for the monstrous engines of the church (just as jihadis are for the sister faith) without which it cannot sustain itself. So the Church is in need of an endless quantity saints, and let the quality of saints be damned. 

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