“I am a liberal Catholic.  I am also an admirer of Blessed John Paul II,” begins the recent blog entry by Fr. James Martin, SJ, on the America magazine “In All Things” blog. The full title of the post is, “A Liberal Liking of Blessed John Paul II.” Reflecting on the seeming opposition that being a “liberal Catholic” and a “JPII admirer” presents, Martin offers some sound reasons for why the more speedy beatification may in fact be just what is needed. Among the reasons are the clear will of many Catholics around the globe who began declaring JPII a saint at his death and that a verified miracle through JPII’s intercession has already been confirmed.

But perhaps the most compelling and insightful comment that Martin notes, a remark that ostensibly comes directly from Pope Benedict XVI, is that the beatification or canonization of a person is not an affirmation of that person’s actions in an office or role as an administrator as one might have it.

But the emphasis on the personal life is an important one.  The church beatifies a Christian, not an administrator.  In that light, John Paul II clearly deserves to be a blessed and, later, a saint.  Karol Wojtyla certainly led a life of “heroic sanctity,” as the traditional phrase has it; he was faithful to God in extreme situations (Nazism, Communism, consumerism); he was a tireless “evangelist,” that is, a promoter of the Gospel, even in the face of severe infirmity; and he worked ardently for the world’s poor, as Jesus asked his followers to do.  The new blessed was prayerful, fearless and zealous.  He was, in short, holy.  And, in my eyes, anyone who visits the prison cell of his would-be assassin and forgives the man is a saint.

Very good point. I believe this is something that all Christians would do well to recall, particularly as we view one another — especially those in civil administration, such as politicians — that if a Pope should not be judged on the merits and mistakes he made as the Church administrator par excellence, then we need to likewise be more aware of the need to judge other administrators on their individual holiness too.

Photo: USA Today via Society of Jesus

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