Monsignor: Canonization So Soon After Death Poses Risks

Thursday, 24 Apr 2014 07:20 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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The dual canonizations of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII is an unprecedented event in the Catholic Church and one that is not without risks, according to Monsignor Jim Lisante, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Massapequa Park, New York.

"John the XXIII, this little 78-year-old man who only lasted five years, did amazing things. He humanized the papacy not unlike Pope Francis is doing right now, Lisante told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

"John Paul II came having lived under the oppression of Nazism and communism [and said] I'm going to use my papacy to fight for international freedom. And, as we know, he helped to bring down the Iron Curtain because of that."

Story continues below video.



Editor’s Note: Do You Approve of Pope Francis? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

But whereas most canonizations take place hundreds of years after a pontiff's death, John Paul II passed away in 2005.

"We've waited usually 200-300 years to see whether or not someone's holiness withstood the test of time, so it's a risky business to take someone who died nine years ago and make them a saint," Lisante, a Fox News contributor said.

"There are those who criticize him for not doing enough, for instance, about the scandals where children were compromised by some priests. We can make a case that he didn't do enough.

"I'd make the case too that he was also in his 80s, riddled with Parkinson's and that this was a problem the American church should've and did handle eventually, but that's the risk of canonizing him so soon."

But while John Paul II has been criticized by some, Lisante said, "he was a great and holy man. We can look at him with great pride. He did amazing things in terms of fighting communism and Nazism, [and was] a holy man, a dedicated man, a hardworking man.

"He was a great man and eventually he would've been made a saint, maybe it's just a little early."

The pontiffs will be celebrated in a Mass officiated by Pope Francis that will be televised all over the world.

"It'll be kind of a biography presented of these two men in the context of mass as Pope Francis declares on behalf of the church that they are saints and that they can be prayed to, they can be venerated to," Lisante said.

The Vatican is also exploring the possible canonization of other Popes in the future.

"There are a number being examined. One of them who is controversial to be sure is Pope Pius XII, who was Pope from 1939 to 1958 and a great man, a holy man an extraordinary man, a great leader of the church," Lisante said.

"The debate always centers on did he do enough to save Jews in the Holocaust? I would make the case that he did more than that. There's a wonderful organization Pave the Way Foundation … and they've come out with a large book now saying this man saved countless lives during the Holocaust and he's not getting the credit he deserved.

"So certainly he deserves study. If he was as good and as holy as we think he was and if we can clear this issue up and indicate that, in fact, living under Hitler and the threat of Hitler, he did extraordinary work to save people's lives, we might see this holiness that warrants being a saint."

Editor’s Note: Do You Approve of Pope Francis? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

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