zaterdag 26 april 2014

Two new saints John 23 and JP II

Tomorrow, 27 April 2014, two Catholic Popes will be declared saint by Pope Francis. There has been some rumor about this act. They are not really according to the quite strict rules of the Vatican in these cases.

The pontificate of JP II has been sometimes called a ‘Saint factory’ not by a critical outsider but by an unnamed cardinal. During this pontificate 987 priests, nuns, lay brothers (no married people!) were beatified. Our good fresh new Pope Francis is not less modest, but in one deal he declared 813 martyrs as proper saints. They were the inhabitants of Otranto, victims of the war between Europe and the Ottoman empire in  1480 (see . Some feel what ishappening now as an inflation of the idea of sainthood.

At the death of John Paul II, Franz Magnis Suseno wrote a biting reaction on some strategies of his pontificate. He regretted that his pastoral strategy leaned so heavily on conservative movements in the Catholic Church. Magnis Suseno welcomed his support for the Charismatic Movement, but could not understand why he was so strongly opposed against Latin American Theology of Liberation. Also Opus Dei was labelled by Magnis Suseno as a blessing for the church, but not when this should be done at the detriment of other more liberal and still positive movements. He saw three disasters of the Pontificate of John Paul II: ‘He was not successful in the fight against the erosion of faith in large parts of Europe and America (in Europe less than 10% of the Catholic are regular church goers). Priests continue to leave their position, also in Indonesia. In Latin America the Catholic Church lost 20% of its members.’ He stressed that in Indonesia more than 100 priests married during this pontificate, although the celibacy is not a command of Jesus but only an ecclesiastical rule. He also criticised the centralisation of the Vatican rulings, their interference in the nomination of bishops and professors at theological faculties and even the Indonesian translation of liturgical texts. As an example he gave the liturgical text Dominus vobiscum, when a priest says to the people in his parish Tuhan beserta kita, or ‘The Lord is with us’. The literal translation according to Vatican rules must be ‘The Lord is with you’, emphasizing the special position of the priest as distinct from his flock. But, like in other countries, the more binding formula with the meaning that God sides with the community as a whole, is still the dominating practice. Magnis Suseno was also happy that the Indonesian church continued to follow the decision of the bishops that birth control must be seen as an affair of the individual believers. In the new fight against AIDS/HIV the use of condoms should not be limited by ecclesiastical rulings. (After Hidup 2005 no 18, pages 16-18.
(Most of this section is quoted from the draft of my new book, Catholics in Independent Indonesia, 1945-2010. I hope that it will be published by Brill/KITLV later this year).

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