The cause of John Paul II has advanced. He has been beatified, and, therefore, we can be reasonably certain he is in heaven, or at the very least purgatory (in which case he very well could be right next to Blessed John XXIII, perhaps discussing the third secret of Fatima and whether the Council was worth it.)
This has happened despite the at times rather loud outcry of Catholic traditionalists around the world. Traditionalists have pointed out not a few troublesome issues concerning the actions of Blessed John Paul II as pope. These concerns were not just mere nitpicking.
*Traditionalists pointed out the troublesome gesture of reverence John Paul made toward the Koran that looked very much like a kiss, and other actions, such as the pan-religious prayer meeting in Assisi that seemed to favor the error of indifferentism.
*Traditionalists pointed out that during John Paul's long pontificate corruption was allowed to spread throughout the ranks of the ordained, culminating in the priest-child abuse and sex scandal that has continued to the rock the Church for nearly a decade now.
*Related to the former, traditionalists pointed out Blessed John Paul's trust of, and close personal relationship with, Marcial Maciel, the founder of the the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi, even after credible accusations had become well known in the Vatican and even to John Paul that this man was a degenerate and sexual pervert.
*Traditionalists pointed out that Blessed John Paul, himself, observed a silent apostasy in the Church, and observed that the Church had sunk, during the very years of his own pontificate, into an unprecedented state of turmoil and crisis.
The Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, however, did not turn a deaf ear to these concerns, as is obvious by their staunch determination to separate the pontificate of John Paul II from the reason for his beatification, which is personal holiness. Traditionalists can take some measure of consolation in the fact that their concerns were taken seriously enough for the Vatican to make this distinction.
However, is this distinction a valid one? Fr. Zuhlsdorf asks the question over on his blog, can one separate personal holiness from the performance of one's vocation?
The facial answer to that question is, of course, no, and that is a more than reasonable answer. A bad father of a family, who does great harm to his wife and children, even though he had the best of intentions, wouldn't be considered a man of heroic virtue, especially by the wise of this world. However, perhaps this isn't a good enough example. Perhaps it isn't "real" enough to explain a pope like Blessed John Paul II, that likable, lovable, brilliant, genius level, never grown up child from Poland.
There is such a thing as a man completely ill prepared, mentally and spiritually, to be a husband and a father, but, nonetheless, forced into husbandry by circumstances he has no control over. There are men who lack the skills and the natural aptitude to be a husband and father, and that inability is such that if left to his own devices, the damage he does to his family would be without remedy. However, such a man, by personal holiness and the practice of heroic virtue, manages not just to do less damage than what he could have done if he were given to vice, but actually manages to do the will of God for his family despite his many failures and falls.
Blessed John Paul II was this ill equipped, unskilled pope, forced into his position by circumstances beyond his control, and probably beyond his understanding. He was elected by a cabal of Modernists primarily because they thought him ill equipped, unskilled, to them childishly pious, spiritually immature, ecclesiastically naive, and, most importantly, witless enough to be harmless to their agenda.
For much of his pontificate, Blessed John Paul was just such a pontiff. In many ways he was the picture of the bumbling absent minded professor, driven by a tunnel vision that genius often creates. But his tunnel vision was also tempered by his ardent love for others, no matter who they were or what they believed. It was also narrowed by his unwillingness to look beyond the dignity of the human person and seriously consider the reality of concupiscence. His greatest weakness, blind trust in others, was born of, perhaps, his greatest strength. He pandered to others, striving to say what they wanted to hear, not because he was a bad person, but because he desired to be loved as much as he loved others.
It was this simplicity of heart that was both the key to his personal holiness, and the cause for so much damage. For example, how could Blessed John Paul pander to both the Modernists who put him in power, and the traditionalists that those same Modernists had betrayed and were persecuting? His inaction and half measures concerning the legitimate aspirations of those attached to the Traditional Latin Mass and its commensurate spirituality was caused by this very conflict between two groups, completely opposed to each other, the individuals of whom Blessed John Paul loved and desired to be loved by. He was holy, but confused; ill equipped to be the pope who could right the barque of Peter. However, he was also the pope whose holiness made it impossible for him to be the pope the Modernists thought they could make him be.
The traditionalist must not forget, it was this holiness, this glimmer of light in that quarter of Rome that had virtually ceased being Catholic, that caused a distinct uneasiness for the Modernists, and because it was born of that spirit that Our Blessed Lord spoke of in the Gospel of St. Matthew, chapter eighteen, verse three, a pure childlike spirit, it managed to chip away at the edifice of unholy power the Modernists had erected in Rome long before the pontificate of John Paul had even begun.
The turning point in John Paul's pontificate was the year 1988.
First, in that year he excommunicated Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and Bishop Antônio de Castro Mayer, along with the the five men they had illicitly ordained bishops for the Society of St. Pius X. Despite a horde of heretics, an entire religious order virtually given over to heretical doctrines (the Jesuits), the abandonment of Catholicism by "Catholic" institutes of higher learning, Catholic priests taking up guns and running for political office, John Paul refused to allow Lefebvre to ordain his choice of bishops for his society, thus refusing to allow traditionalists a peaceful and sane corner of a Church being ransacked by Modernists and Liberals from which the Church might be strengthened. Instead, and for many inexplicably, John Paul chose to excommunicate traditionalists for disobedience while he, himself, floated in a raging ocean of disobedience and disrespect for Catholic institutions and the papacy.
Blessed John Paul looked to the Modernists, especially the Jesuits, for appreciation. But these men, especially the Jesuits, are ravaging wolves. They saw an advantage and pressed it. Instead of showing appreciation for excommunicating their sworn enemy, they complained that the same document, Ecclesia Dei, which carried the excommunication, acknowledged as legitimate the desire for traditional Catholic worship and practice.
In the face of betrayal, especially from the Jesuits, John Paul could not turn to the traditionalists he had excommunicated and relegated to a dark corner. Instead he turned toward Opus Dei, and, unfortunately, toward Maciel and the Legion of Christ. How different things would be today if only Blessed John Paul had realized the ravaging wolves for what they were before he had excommunicated the Lefebvrites!
Also, when confronted by the betrayal of the Jesuits, John Paul perceived a spiritual vacuum caused by waning devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He turned to his native country for a solution in devotion to the Divine Mercy. He turned toward Marian devotion and invigorated devotion to Fatima. How these devotions would have thrived and spread throughout the Church if carried by traditionalists, if only Blessed John Paul had realized the nature of the ravaging wolves before the events of 1988!
However, 1988 was also the year that Blessed John Paul II released Mulieris Dignitatem, his apostolic letter on the dignity of women. John Paul had expected that this document would appease modern feminists, but he was surprised that shortly after its release he was greeted by feminists protests in the countries he visited. He did not understand why they were so opposed to him and his apostolic letter. He was incapable of seeing beyond innate human dignity to the monster created by concupiscence and sin. Even after he allowed female altar servers in 1992, the protests did not subside. The feminists still hated him. Their desire was not an acknowledgement of their innate dignity, but the wholesale rejection of Catholic doctrine regarding the all male priesthood. They wanted an end to the Church and the sacraments!
It was in the 1990s that Blessed John Paul began to pull away from the policy of appeasement toward the Modernists who had put him on the Chair of Peter. The radical nature of the left, of the feminists and Modernists had finally broken down his unrealistic optimism.
There was still inaction concerning the traditionalists, but a new sympathy for them because John Paul came to realize that they knew all along what he had refused to acknowledge for much of his pontificate: because of Satan, sin and concupiscence there is no "level playing field" for truth in this world, as neo-conservative Catholics like George Weigel still contend there can be. John Paul realized, as did others in his Vatican, that Truth is not democratically achieved as long as a "level playing field" can be maintained. It is granted by God and passed down through Holy Mother Church, and that is the only way man can come to know ultimate Truth. The document Dominus Iesus, promulgated in 2000 demonstrates that Blessed John Paul II had changed his mind about how man apprehends truth, but neo-conservative Catholics like Weigel prefer the former Pope John Paul, and ignore Dominus Iesus.
It was also in this time that John Paul's health began to fail. To the end he bore his sufferings as he had conducted his life: with a childlike simplicity and acceptance.
He never lost his love for others and his desire to be loved by others, but in the last decade of his pontificate, it is evident he had a clearer, albeit, brokenhearted, view of man and the modern Church that accompanied, not coincidentally, his deteriorating health. In 1994, realizing that the feminists desired the wholesale destruction of the Church's sacraments, he released the more level headed, and observably more sober Ordinatio sacerdotalis. His writings and Angelus addresses and his homilies reflected more and more on man's fallen condition and dependence on the Divine Mercy and the intercessions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
At the end of the day, which it now is in Rome, we are left with the image of the holy, childlike man, unskilled and unequipped to be pope, but who despite the circumstances of his life and failed pontificate triumphed in the only way that really matters.
Pope John Paul II is now Blessed John Paul II. Whatever the peripheral personal or political motives for Pope Benedict XVI to beatify John Paul, despite such a papacy fraught with corruption and scandal, despite a papacy that watched the rampant proliferation of heresy and practical schism, despite a papacy that stood by and allowed the wholesale slaughter of the piety of so many traditional Catholics, it should be obvious that it was that childlike piety and holiness of John Paul that primarily motivated this beatification.
Pope John Paul II is now Blessed John Paul II. While objectively a failure as a pope, nonetheless he is a declared blessed of the Church.
Glory be to God! Because that means there's hope for me and for you!