Former secretary says JP2's beatification needs critics

The Archbishop of Krakow and former personal secretary of Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, has said that the recent criticisms of the late Pope's beatification process have boosted the chances of its success.

CLICK HERECatholic News Agency reports that Archbishop Dziwisz was referring to a campaign launched by so-called dissident theologians against the beatification of John Paul II, which he described as "one more opportunity to acknowledge the sanctity of John Paul II".

"This kind of manifestations only hastens the beatifications process," he said. "Of the Holy Father we can only say that he always defended man before false ideologies and their preachers and History vindicated him."

Reuters reported earlier this week that 11 Catholic theologians said Church officials who are reviewing John Paul's life and pontificate should also consider the "negative evaluation" that liberal critics have of John Paul II. The dissidents' appeal received wide play in major Italian newspapers.

The 11 included theologians from Italy, Spain, Austria and Latin America. They said that those judging the case should also take into account "negative" aspects of John Paul's papacy.

One of the best-known signatories was Jose Maria Castillo, a Jesuit professor who has taught theology at the University of Granada in Spain. Another was an Italian theologian, Giovanni Franzoni.

"We invite such persons [critical of the late pope] to overcome their shyness and timidity and formally express, with gospel freedom, facts which according to their consciences and convictions should be an obstacle to beatification," they wrote.

While the theologians acknowledged John Paul's papacy had "positive aspects", their seven-point appeal included criticism of his rigidly conservative stance on issues such as contraception, limitations on the role of women and of scandals in the Church.

It included the sexual abuse scandal that swept the United States in 2002, when it was discovered that priests who had molested children were moved from parish to parish instead of being defrocked or turned over to authorities.

The appeal criticised what it called a lack of control over some of the Vatican's "murky financial manoeuvres", specifically naming the Holy See's relations with Italy's Banco Ambrosiano, which went bankrupt in 1982.

Italian magistrates at the time said the Vatican Bank, which had a small stake in the Ambrosiano, bore some responsibility for the $A1.73 billion in bad debts.

The theologians said the Church's saint-makers should also consider the "repression and alienation" inflicted on some thinkers by the late pope. This was a reference to his moves to discipline promoters of Latin America's "Liberation Theology", which he felt was too close to Marxist social analysis, as a way of helping the continent's poor.

Former Secretary of John Paul II confirms: Critics help in the beatification process (Catholic News Agency 7/12/05)
Theologians call for John Paul's critics to speak up (The Scotsman 7/12/05)

God defends the weakest (Vatican Information Service 7/12/05)
Priests: Serving God and saving souls (Vatican Information Service 7/12/05)
Don't make John Paul saint - dissident theologians (Reuters 6/12/05)
Culture of disbelief among threats to religious freedom, says pope (Catholic News Service 6/12/05)
World leaders, citizens must use their power to aid poor, says pope (Catholic News Service 7/12/05)
Religious freedom is key, Vatican official tells foreign ministers (Catholic News Service 7/12/05)
Pope Benedict on the Psalms: God defends the weakest; world rulers should follow suit (Catholic News Agency 7/12/05)
Priests called to give lives for glory of God, salvation of souls, says Pope (Catholic News Agency 7/12/05)
Former Secretary of John Paul II confirms: Critics help in the beatification process (Catholic News Agency 7/12/05)
Rulers must protect the poor, Pope tells audience (Catholic World News 7/12/05)
Pope will visit Rome exhibit on Vatican II (Catholic World News 7/12/05)
Theologians appeal for critics of late Pope to come forward (Ekklesia 7/12/05)
Pope Given a Ferrari Steering Wheel (Zenit 6/12/05)

8 Dec 2005