Novak (novak) wrote,

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Theological Notebook: John Paul II a Martyr?

From a current AP story:
... Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said Friday it was up to groups of theological experts to decide if the May 13, 1981, attempt on John Paul's life - as well as his long, public suffering before he died - warranted a declaration of martyrdom. "In a technical, theological, juridical and canonical sense, the martyr gives his life for the faith," Saraiva Martins said in response to questions at a news conference, according to the Apcom news agency. "We have to verify the motive for the attempt on the life of (Karol) Woytyla. And this will be the work of theologians."
... Church officials had initially rejected outright any suggestion that the 1981 assassination attempt could be the basis for a martyrdom declaration since John Paul lived for almost another 24 years. ... "John Paul truly spilled his blood in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981, and then again, not just his blood but he offered his life during the long years of his illness," Ruini said. "In the end, his suffering and his death, his silent blessing from his window at the end of Easter Mass, were for all of humanity an extraordinary and efficient testimony of Jesus Christ killed and resurrected, of the Christian significance of suffering, death and the force of salvation.

Well, let this Catholic theological expert come right out and say, "NO, no, no!" The Vatican's sketchy way of determining saints--sketchy in that it is not above Church politics taking a decisive role, and funding sainthood causes being a factor--is already suspect enough without adding this blatant fuzzing of names and categories. If the Vatican cannot determine that Archbishop Oscar Romero, gunned down while consecrating the Eucharist for speaking out against the state harming "the least of these," the poor lay Catholics of his flock, is himself a martyr, then certainly John Paul, who survived the attempted assassination on him by nearly a quarter-century does not qualify. Besides, there is already a very clear category that John Paul's sufferings of "attempted martyrdom" have earned him. He is what the Church calls a "Confessor." "John Paul the Confessor," or "John Paul Confessor," is how you'd style it. He was tortured, attacked, imprisoned, or some such thing--in this case, shot--for representing his faith, and he did not forsake his faith. Laying aside the politics, earning that name is enough honour for any man.
Tags: john paul ii, martyrs, theological notebook

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