I saw some of the ceremony this morning on television at the behest of my wife. I have walked many times up the Via della Conciliazione and across St Peter’s Square with hardly more than the company of pigeons. This morning, those areas were filled with people and the various police and security agencies paid for at great cost by the Italian civil authorities to protect the pilgrims and clergy.
I don’t relate to these big ceremonies of popular religion, and had a sense of sadness when I celebrated the Quasimodo Mass this morning. Should I give my opinion on John XXIII and John Paul II? I decided not to, but rather to keep silence. I saw such opinions expressed on traditionalist websites and felt alienated and revolted, and also by the “mega church” ceremony that had been somewhat self-consciously simplified by Pope Francis.
There is a lot of controversy about John Paul II as about Pius XII and other modern Popes, but it is reassuring that a man doesn’t have to be perfect or right in every way to attain the beatitude of sainthood. It is something I would wish for any of us sinners who turn to God. What now? I suppose that there will be a feast of Saints John XXIII and John Paul II, bishops and confessors, in the liturgy every year. It makes no difference to me, since I follow the Use of Sarum and admit only a few major Roman rite feasts of Fathers of the Church and men like St Francis of Assisi and St Philip Neri. For the rest of Christendom, there will certainly be a long “cooling-off” period during which John XXIII will be largely forgotten and only shreds of memories of John Paul II will remain as we all get older and see changes in the world. Many questions remain, and people will always be dissatisfied.
I leave the polemics and questions of infallibility in prayerful silence and pray that somehow, God may bring good out of this event.