Why is the Vatican rushing to canonize the conciliar popes?

Okay. This first off is not any sort of criticism of any pope, council, or the Church today.
This is an observation. There have been five popes made Saints who served in the past 500 years. Ten in the past 1,000!
The Church, it seems, is fast tracking all of the conciliar popes, to the point John XXlll didn’t even have a second miracle. Even John Paul l is now a venerable. What is this? Besides John XXlll, Paul Vl, and John Paul ll, the only popes who served in the past 500 years made Saints are Pius V, from the mid 16th century, and Pius X, from the early 20th century. Are we to believe that all of these Council and post Council popes are somewhat holier than about 50 other popes from the past 500 years? What about Pius lX who was the longest reigning pope in history, defined the Immaculate Conception, and called on the first Vatican Council? Not going to get into conspiracies here but if John Paul l is the next pope made Saint, it will be pretty hard to not think that something is going on.

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St. John Paul II was incredibly holy. That can’t be denied. While you can criticize certain elements of his papacy (he was still human), he was undoubtedly a living saint. The people of God DEMANDED his canonization the moment he went to his reward.

That said, there does seem to be a push, as you say, to canonize recent popes. I think part of it is due to modern communications. In the past century or so, the papacy has become “larger than life”, and popes more revered and powerful than ever before, in terms of actual practical influence, as they can now reach every corner of the earth instantaneously. Most popes were distant abstract figures for the vast majority of Catholics.


Why are you being intentionally provacative?


What exactly about each of these popes makes you think they weren’t holy men, and therefore shouldn’t have been canonized?


The conciliar popes have been open to the world we actually live in, not just the world of the Vatican. Since Saint John XXIII there has been a complete change in the church, which has meant that we are living in a world of a new Pentecost…the second Pentecost…an event just as great and awe inspiring as the first Pentecost.

That is why it is no surprise we have had consistently saintly popes.


Am I right in thinking that the recent Popes who’ve been canonised or declared venerable outnumber the married, non-martyred men who have been raised to this status over the same period? In fact if we take away martyrs and the fathers of women saints, are there any married men who have been canonised in the last hundred years?

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He’s currently a Beati, so just one step away from saint. Pray for his cause and he might get there soon.

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There are currently a dozen Popes in the canonization pipeline as Blesseds, Venerables and Servants of God, and most of them are from hundreds of years ago, although I suppose some of them who reigned in say the 1700s or 1600s would fall within your “past 500 years” complaint. I note that there are also some Popes on the list who go back to the 1100s, 1200s and 1300s.

I would further imagine that when a Pope becomes very remote in time, it is harder to keep his cause active and get a lot of contemporary lay people interested like they would be for a more recent Pope.
Most of these Popes from the 1100s, 1200s, 1300s, even 1700s, like most of the other saints of their era, are not that well known to contemporary people and therefore there are fewer people praying for their intercession and cause, unless the Pope was a member of a religious order who is pushing the cause and has the whole order supporting their saints-in-progress.

Someone currently in need of a miracle might remember Venerable Pope John Paul I and pray for his help. They’re less likely to think of Blessed Pope Urban II, who reigned from 1088 to 1099.


I’m not. Am I making this up? If so please tell me my historical inaccuracy.

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I’ve had the same thought. I don’t have an answer though.



They are people we can look at and say “God was with them” in a way that is not heard of for most Popes. There are a few who stand out, but some of them for a holiness that no longer seems quite so holy. That may be what happens to Pius IX, some of his works are mixed with a sectarian character that the Church has largely abandoned. His greatest deeds are not thought of as so great anymore.

With an active contingent still questioning Vatican 2 the achievements of John XXIII and Paul VI needed emphasis. Their commitment to conversion and actively responding to God will always be important. Canonization was a wise decision to help shape the Church in the future, as well as recognize their virtues.

Benedict XVI also started the process for Pius VII. You can puzzle over that one, and consider whether Pius VI will ever be canonized, along with the Council Era Popes.

Pope JPII beatified him in 2000, which isn’t even 20 years ago, so obviously he’s still thought of as pretty great in some circles. If he gets another miracle it would be hard to not canonize him.

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How is this provocative? It Is a very legitimate question. You may come from the stance where it doesn’t feel good to you because of your personal thought regarding those pipes, but there are many who are wondering the same thing?


Like I said in the beginning, this is nothing against these popes, in fact John Paul ll is one of my favorite popes. But this is the thing. Just because we lived through them doesn’t mean we have to make them saints within our lifetime. If anything I think it undermines the canonization process. It used to be unheard of to have people live to see someone they were alive at the same time be made Saints. Probably why not many Popes are made Saints in the past 500 years. With that said, my concern is a cult of personality when you are making Saints out of Popes and people so close to the time period. Like, if Pope John Paul l is made a Saint, I really doubt it could be his papacy that made him a Saint. 33 days? What did he do in that time that would make him a Saint before so much more influential ones in history. And that the Church changed since Pius lX in arguing against his canonization is incredibly ridiculous. In that case we probably shouldn’t be rushing to make Saints out of recent popes because what if the tide changes again? And also John XXlll only had one miracle so tech he should still be a blessed. Why not make Pius lX one too since he met the same criteria already?

You don’t seem to understand what canonization is.
Sainthood isn’t about holding an office in the Church, or being “influential in history.” Canonization is about holiness. And being “influential in history” certainly doesn’t prove holiness.

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Good point. There are lots of saints canonized every year who are far, far less well-known or “influential” than someone who was Pope, even if he was only Pope for 33 days.

So we are to believe only in the past 50 years Popes have been holy?

You do realize that there are 86 canonized popes out of 266, which is approximately 1/3 of all the Popes who ever reigned? Plus 13 more popes with sainthood causes?

Canonizing Popes is not a new thing. Popes Pius IX and Leo XIII were advancing the sainthood causes of Popes in the late 1800s.

It seems quite likely that many of the men selected to be Pope were exemplary in their holiness, and thus end up saints, or on the path to being saints. Even if you remove the 31 martyred Popes, that still leaves you with 55 popes being canonized saints (approximately 20 percent of all Popes), of whom only 4 (only 1.5 percent of all Popes) reigned in the 20th century.


I’m not sure why the title, “conciliar” popes. Since the Council of Jerusalem have there been any non Conciliar popes?


The canonization of Popes has always been tricky and has had political (both civil and ecclesiastical) implications and therefore at least partial political motivations.

Look at the canonization of St. Celestine V as an example. St. Celestine had treated the French monarch Philip the Fair very well, but when Boniface VIII ascended to the chair (along with allegations he pressured Celestine to resign), he annulled many of Celestine’s acts that were favorable to Phillip and ended up being a bitter adversary of Philip. Later, when Philip’s friend since childhood, Clement V, was elected, Clement annulled many of Boniface’s disciplinary bulls which had negatively affected Phillip, and severely down-played the practical effects of Unam Sanctam on Philip. Philip pushed Clement to have Boniface condemned as a heretic or at least an impious priest, but Clement said this could only safely be done by a General Council. He and Philip discussed it among the Cardinals as a possible act of the upcoming Council of Vienne, but Boniface’s supporters were too many (and they drew swords and threatened the opposition on top of it!). Shortly after the Council, Clement V canonized St. Celestine (17 years after his death), who had been imprisoned and allegedly persecuted by Boniface and who had supported Phillip. It was perceived at the time as a consolation prize for Philip, an implicit judgment on Boniface by the canonization of Celestine, since a direct judgment on Boniface could not be obtained.

St. Pius V’s canonization was orchestrated by the Dominican Order, who has promoted the canonization of all their Popes (3 out of 4 Dominican Popes were at least beatified, and the other’s cause is open).

One can argue that Leo XIII went back and advanced some papal causes (beatifiying Urban II, Victor III,and Innocent V and canonizing Adrian III) in order to further bolster the prestige of the papacy after the First Vatican Council in the face of civil and non-Catholic opposition.

Pius IX’s cause is another good case-study. Leo XIII’s (and his Secretary of State, Cardinal Rampolla’s) policies of ralliement toward France and modern Europe were at odds with his predecessors. Pius X mostly returned to Pius IX’s less open approach and opened his cause. Benedict XV, who had been Cardinal Rampolla’s secretary (and was even known as “Little Rampolla”) then closed Pius IX’s cause and resumed Leo XIII’s and Rampolla’s policies.

Pius XII, who like Leo XIII had an interest in the prestige of the papacy (not a bad thing), then canonized Pius X (who he had worked closely with and who had promoted him to start his career path leading to the papacy), and reopened the cause of Pius IX and Innocent XI (ultimately beatifying him), the latter had itself been postponed for political tensions with the French.

Pius IX’s beatification was ultimately paired with that of John XXIII, which itself had additional motives (to show continuity, provide balance, etc.) just as we would later see with the canonizations of John Paul II and John XXIII.

continued in my next post (#22)…

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