Saturday, December 19, 2009


For one recent pope, anyway, it seems the case for his declaration of having exhibited “heroic virtue” is a lock—that of John Paul II.

This declaration, made from the Vatican today (12-19-09) confirms what everyone already believes: that from his time in Poland as seminarian and priest and bishop, to his time as Supreme Pontiff, Karol Wojtyla exhibited extraordinary holiness and called upon incredible reserves of spiritual life to do and be what he did and was.

As a sort of side-bar, the online AP item mentioning this described the Vatican statement as affirming he had “heroic virtues” (note the plural). This is no doubt true, but it is not what the declaration is about. Rather, it says that this person was someone of special spiritual strength (note the singular) who took discipleship as seriously as it can be taken. A “virtue,” after all, is a characteristic of strength or ‘manliness’ (forgive the gender-exclusive reference here, but it’s all about the Latin word virtus). From his opposition to the communist regime in Poland, through the attempted assassination, the fall of the Soviet bloc, and his tireless travels over the world to bring Good News to the poor, his ecumenical longings (especially toward the Eastern Orthodox Churches), John Paul II was a titanic figure in the 2nd half of the 20th century. “Heroic virtue”? Absolutely. And he is designated as “Venerable” because of it.


  1. I cannot agree with the exultation (Venerable) given to JPII...he may have been a wonderful sign of reaching out to those not in commuion with Rome; but what about his (not) reaching out to those "in union with Rome" (i.e. married priests) whom it appears he disregarded?? aidan

  2. Remember that "heroic virtue" in one's life is not the same as what we might agree or disagree with in terms of that person's views on church discipline...