Mark White Peter Isely
Title: Centenary of JPII’s Birth
Author: Father Mark White
Publisher: Father Mark White Blog
On Monday, we marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Pope St. John Paul II. Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the late pope’s tomb. The Holy Father said:
John Paul went to find the people. Throughout the whole world, he went to visit his people, searching for his people, making himself close… A priest who is not close to his people is not a pastor. He’s a hierarch, an administrator, maybe even a good one, but he’s not a pastor.
Saint John Paul II gave us an example of this closeness, to the great and the small, to the close and the far away. He always drew them near.
Twenty years ago, meeting John Paul II gave this particular seminarian great hope. I had read every word he ever wrote. I regarded him as the wisest man on earth. I wanted to become a priest like him.
But some other people could not see him this way. And for good reason.
On the occasion of the beatification of Pope John Paul II, Mr. Peter Isely wrote an essay. He got to the heart of a problem that has since come to preoccupy me a great deal.
We victims of priest abuse didn’t need a papal saint. We needed a Citizen-Saint, who embodied catholic citizenship as much as catholic sanctity, and who was as adept and insistent at forming such citizens among his seminarians, priests, and especially his bishops.
It is as a fellow citizen, humbly assuming this most ordinary role, where John Paul’s sanctity really fails. This failure is all the more dramatic with the late pope because he advocated so passionately as a “citizen of the world” for human rights around the world.
That advocacy clearly and decisively ended at the front door of the church.
Fellow citizens report child molesting clerics to the police. Fellow citizens eject sex offenders from professional employment with children and families.
The pope, who had the power to do both of these urgent citizen acts, never did the first, and made the second virtually impossible.
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