Maureen Dowd’s New York Times Easter weekend column, “Hold the Halo,” is both good and bad. This is generally how I feel about many of Dowd’s columns. She often raises some important points, makes some sensible critiques or observations, but these aspects are almost always mitigated by some detracting aspect of her reflection. I think this is case with her latest piece.

Like Dowd, I have mixed feelings about the fast-track beatification of the late Pope John Paul II. What is not mentioned is JPII’s own interest in fast-tracking universal recognition of Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado’s alleged holiness and we’ve seen what happens when one rushes such things without careful vetting. This is not to suggest that Pope John Paul II has similar skeletons in his closet, but there is a reason there is a standard five-year waiting period before the process begins. Even Mother Teresa had to wait 6 years after her death before Pope John Paul II celebrated her beatification.

Although Dowd can be imprudent at times and quick to make comments that may be construed as disrespectful, I think she raises an interesting point about the hasty beatification of any person, particularly in light of the clergy abuse coverup crisis. Is it wise to rush these sorts of proceedings? I agree with Dowd that it is incongruous that Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Oscar Romero and others — clearly symbols of Christian holiness and ordinary examples of everyday Gospel living — remain in recognition limbo, while others are rushed through. The politics don’t play equally for all.

Do I think that JPII rates the title “Blessed?” Yes, I do. But, probably not so soon. There are others that should not be forgotten.

Photo: Vatican Pool Photo


  1. Dan,
    Thanks for the thoughts on JPII and Maureen Dowd’s column. I appreciated the link. I read her article carefully a few times. You stated that “She often raises some important points, makes some sensible critiques or observations, but these aspects are almost always mitigated by some detracting aspect of her reflection.” She might have made some comments in past columns that could be misconstrued however I didn’t find anything in this column that could be misconstrued.
    The position Cardinal Law holds in St. Mary Major and now the honor given to Cardinal Regali from Philadelphia only magnify the fact that the sexual abuse scandal is still with us and give even more credence to the points made by Ms Dowd. The case for JPII not only needs more time it needs more objective investigation into as they say “what he knew and when he knew it.”

  2. Br. Dan, I might be misreading your entry but didn’t Maciel die after Pope John Paul II? John Paul couldn’t have promoted Maciel’s cause for beatification. Thanks for your blog.

  3. One thing I wonder about is the frequent disclaimer you see in articles about JPII’s beatification that insists that beatification is about recognizing his piety, his virtuous life of Christian faith, rather than any of the historical effects of his life. I don’t understand how the former are possibly separable from the latter, and I think it’s pretty easy to tell that “historical effects of his life” is a euphemism for something considered unpleasant.

    That this dichotomy gets applied to JPII puzzles me, given that a common objection to the beatification of Oscar Romero is that we can’t tell if he died because of his politics or because of his Christian faith.

    It seems that JPII is getting beatified despite the “historical effects” of his life and that Romero et al is being held back precisely because of the “historical” side of his life.

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