It happened to Pope John Paul II too

Like Pope Francis, John Paul II was repeatedly attacked for his statements in line with the Second Vatican Council regarding ecumenism, religious freedom and dialogue with other religions

Pope John Paul II

The speed of the web and social networks that echo the message help to magnify what is happening – such as in the case of the so-called “filial correction” to Pope Francis – like as if nothing similar had ever happened before. A close look at the recent history of the Church shows that this is not the case, and helps place into the right slot the document signed by 79 scholars, researchers, journalists and bloggers in which it is claimed that Pope Francis has propagated 7 “heretical propositions”. The authors of the text, also signed by the ex-president of the IOR Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, quote 7 “heresies” that the Pontiff has actually never written or pronounced, but which have been “deduced” from his magisterium and his speeches. It is probably the first step towards that “formal correction” of which the American Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, one of the four signatories of the “dubia” on Amoris laetitia, spoke frequently about.  

A look backwards helps to understand the real scope of this document. John Paul II was repeatedly attacked while he was alive, for his statements in line with the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (the real issue for many critics) regarding ecumenism, religious freedom and dialogue with other religions. After his death some from the ultra-traditional side, like the Sedevacantism (those who believe the see has been vacant since the death of Pope Pius XII), who have come to blame him for 101 “heresies” challenging his magisterium with quotes taken from the Papal documents of the past.  

In 1989, theologians from Tübingen, Norbert Greinacher and Dietmar Mieth and a group of dissidents promoted an “open letter” that was signed by 162 teachers of German-speaking Catholic theology. In the Netherlands, 17,000 lay people and ecclesiastics quickly signed it and were followed by 16,000 parish priests and lay people, along with a hundred or so Catholic groups in the then Federal Republic of Germany. Similar statements appeared in Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Brazil and the United States. The reason for the declaration was John Paul’s appointment of the successor of the Cologne bishop “without respecting the suggestions of the local churches and neglecting their established rights”.  

Returning to the criticism coming from the more “traditionalist” or conservative side, one must not forget the attacks, sometimes fierce, against Benedict XVI for some of his interventions on the subject of ecumenism or for the decision to participate in the inter-religious meeting in Assisi. Nor should it be forgotten that even Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, not-yet-cardinal at the time, was also criticized in the weeks prior to his appointment as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2012. An operation was conducted at a high level from inside the Roman Curia to single out some of his statements judged “heterodox” in an attempt to try and block his appointment.  

Translations into different languages of the “doubtful” passages of his works were anonymously emailed to several journalists in the hope that they would turn their pen against Müller. Today, the texts are scattered in websites and blogs close to the so-called traditionalist and lefebbrian world. At the time, the future Prefect had written that “The doctrine of the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is not so much concerned with specific physiological proprieties in the natural process of birth “, that ““In reality, the body and blood of Christ do not mean the material components of the human person of Jesus during his lifetime or in his transfigured corporality” and that thanks to baptism “we as Catholics and evangelical Christians are already united even in what we call the visible Church”.

At that moment, in defense of Müller, Don Nicola Bux, who was a consultant to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, took part in an interview with Vatican Insider and said, “doctrinal development benefits from debate: who has more arguments, convinces. In the charges against Bishop Müller, there is extrapolation from the context: it is easy to condemn anyone like this. A true Catholic must trust the authority of the Pope, always.”. 

Full story at La Stampa.


  1. Faithful and True says:

    No comparison between these two men.

    • Tom Byrne says:

      I don’t think the writer is comparing the men, but rightly points out to liberals who are “shocked, shocked!” at the correction that their side of the line was no stranger to the tactic.

  2. The difference is that Pope John Paul II was attacked for his orthodoxy; Pope Francis is being attacked for his heresy.

  3. St. Christopher says:

    St. JPII was not perfect, but he tried to be a guardian of the Faith. Even awful moments, like at Assisi, were understandable due to the hubris of Vatican II implementers. But St. JPII was tough on dissenters from core Catholicism, and had at least a sympathy for so-called Traditional Catholics who wanted to say the TLM.

    Pope Francis is a far worse Pope. He openly mocks the history and Tradition of the Church. At best, Francis flirts with open rebellion of core tenants of the Faith, including anything that touches on human sexual weakness. So much so, in fact, that he becomes a caricature of a Latin American Pope. Pray for him, though.

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      Sorry, but it was under JPII that TLM practitiners were excommunicated. He didn’t loosen the prohibition of celebrating the old form, he punished its adherants. Where do you get the idea that he has sympathy for Traditional Catholics who wanted to say the TLM?

      • According to the New York Times Pope John Paul II allowed limited use of the Latin only Tridentine Mass on October 15, 1984. Crisis magazine also has an article by Jeffrey Tucker, “How John Paul II Restored Liturgical Sanity”.

        I personally had an audio tape with Pope John Paul II saying the Holy Rosary in Latin. I used it to learn how to say the Rosary in Latin. It was put out during his papacy.

      • Pope John Paul’s Latin was very clear, seemingly with no Polish accent. He had that wonderful actor’s voice.

      • Y FC if you could get past your own hatred for the TLM JP2 issued his own Moto Propio allowing use of the TLM with permission of the local Bishop, which unfortunately was rarely given, and part of the reason why Benedict issue Summorum Pontificum which went around the local Bishop.

  4. William Kernan says:

    Nice try. Apples & oranges.

  5. I knew something was seriously wrong when Bishop Emeritus Rene Henry Gracida signed one of the petitions as he was a great friend to St. John Paul II and Mother Angelica. One can read what he has to say about it all on his website, “Abyssus Abyssum Invocat”/ Deep Calls to Deep.

  6. St. Christopher says:

    “Your Fellow Catholic,” You are not serious, right? Why not read, oh, I don’t know, the motu proprio, Ecclesia Dei, the letter “Quattor abhinc annos,” and the many other writings and directions issued by St. John Paul II which were intended to provide for a “generous” application of the Traditional sacraments, including the TLM. He also encouraged and advanced a number of Traditional Catholic groups, all of which say the TLM exclusively.

    Do not get me wrong, St. JPII is not perfect in this regard. As all involved with Vatican II, there is simply too much pride to say, “we goofed; God forgive us for turning our backs on His magnificent gift of the Mass of All Time.”

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      He excommunicated Latin adherants. #enoughsaid

      • Wrong, wrong, wrong , wrong l. Only the SSPX Bishops were excommunicated, educated yourself before you post

      • Uh wrong as usual YFC, JP2 excommunicated the SSPX not the attendees of the TLM (as much as you would like that), how is that possible. Because I have been attending a TLM since 1998 in diocesan parishes, so no were not excommunicated.

      • Pope John Paul II also started the FSSP, Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Petri (Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter.

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