Saturday, January 15, 2011
It’s a miracle! No, I’m not talking about the Catholic Church annulment of Rudy Giuliani’s marriage to his cousin. I’m talking about Pope Benedict XVI setting May 1st as the date for the late John Paul’s beatification — the next step toward Catholicism’s highest honor: the creation of a new saint.
With the Catholic Church still reeling from the global priest sex abuse scandal, and saints and heros in short supply (other than Saint Sarah of Wasilla), Benedict put John Paul on the fast track to sainthood just weeks after he died, waiving the customary five-year waiting period before the process could begin and beating even that of the far more worthy Mother Teresa’s beatification in 2003 by a few days.
Such an accolade is not without controversy. John Paul was accused of responding slowly when the sex abuse scandal erupted in the U.S. in 2002. Many of the thousands of cases that emerged last year involved crimes and cover-ups during John Paul’s 26-year rule.
Critics have faulted John Paul’s overriding concern with preserving the rights of accused priests at the expense of victims.
The most damaging case linked to John Paul concerned the Rev. Marciel Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, a rightwing order beloved by the late John Paul because of its orthodoxy, fundraising prowess and ability to attract priestly vocations.
Allegations that Maciel had raped young seminarians were brought by the victims to the Vatican in the 1990s, but under orders from John Paul’s No. 2, a canonical trial was shelved. Only after Benedict became pope was Maciel sanctioned in 2006; Maciel died two years later.