Under Pope John Paul II there was a concerted effort to dismantle the role of the “devil’s advocate” that had been in effect since the sixteenth century. The devil’s advocate’s job was to look critically at all the evidence and witnesses regarding a proposed “nominee” for sainthood. JP II effectively removed that dimension to canonization. The results have been abominable—and predictable.
The very first person canonized in this “new” version of sainthood was Josemaria Escriva, card-carrying fascist, admirer of Hitler (yes!), pal to Spanish dictator Franco, rabid sexist, and founder of the far right wing secretive cult named Opus Dei, several members of which served on Franco’s cabinet. One can only guess at how much money was transferred under the table when the Vatican rushed through his canonization in absolutely record time.
Josemaria Escriva’s secretary of six years wrote a book about him but was never called to testify at his canonization process. She details his regular screaming at women servants about him, his secrecy and spying on members (especially female ones) and much more. All this I lay out in detail in my book The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved.
(I wanted the subtitle to be “What can be saved” but the publisher insisted on the latter. I will always be grateful to him, however, for having the courage to publish the book because no other publisher I approached would dare to take on the Vatican.)
A second person canonized sans devil’s advocate was Pope John Paul II himself, the man whom history will remember as the one who brought the Inquisition back. I list the names of 108 theologians (I was just one of them) he silenced and expelled, several of whom died of heart attacks, had nervous breakdowns, or ended life in poverty when their livelihood was taken away from them.
In so doing he put fear into generations of theologians that followed and indeed “killed theology throughout Europe,” according to a professor of theology at my alma mater, the Institut Catholique de Paris.
In bed with the CIA, JPII brutally attacked liberation theology and replaced prophetic bishops and cardinals in South America with Opus Dei yes men. One very knowledgeable priest told me JPII was “responsible for at least 10,000 murders in South America,” of lay and clergy fighting for social and eco justice.
JPII was silent about pedophile clergy and supported many far right wing sects besides Opus Dei.
This includes Communion and Liberation and the Legion of Christ whose founder, Father Marcial Maciel, traveled often with JPII as a special favorite. While raising more cash than any Catholic in history, Maciel ran a completely fascist “order,” sexually abused numerous boys in his seminary, was a drug addict, had two wives on the side, and sexually abused his own children.
Then there is Serra. Again, no devil’s advocate. Money talks. Enough said.
The corruption in high places that our generation has witnessed is not restricted to the White House, attorney generals, or the supreme court. Roman Catholics endured 34 years of malfeasance under two popes who turned their back on Vatican II.
See Matthew Fox, The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved, pp. 106-144.
Banner Image: St. Peter’s Square, The Vatican, Rome, is dominated by the 25.5-meter obelisk at the center of a circus that was started by Caligula, completed by Nero, and used for chariot races and the public executions of Christians. The circus now lies beneath the square and basilica. Photo by Tim Rawle on Flickr
Are you surprised that the removal of the devil’s advocate in the canonization process might lead to some checkered results?
The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved
The Pope’s War offers a provocative look at three decades of corruption in the Catholic Church, focusing on Josef Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI. The final section in the book focuses on birthing a truly catholic christianity.
“This book should be read by everybody, not only for its ferocious courage, but also for its vision for what needs to be saved from the destructive forces that threaten authentic Christianity.” ~ Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope.
“In the gripping The Pope’s War, Matthew Fox takes an unwavering look at the layers of corruption in the Catholic Church, holding moral truth against power.” — Jason Berry, author of Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II