The Vatican’s report on ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s pattern of abuse, and the clerical culture that allowed it, has renewed discussion on the legacy of Pope John Paul II and, more specifically, on his canonization as a saint. One Catholic has raised the former pope’s LGBTQ-negative record.
Shortly after the report’s release, the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) printed an editorial that called for U.S. bishops to suppress celebrations of the late pontiff who is described as having been “willfully blind to the abuse of children and young people.” The McCarrick report, in conjunction with decisions the pope made that protected Legionaries of Christ founder and serial abuser Fr. Marcial Maciel, reveal a pope who repeatedly ignored warnings from advisors and church officials about abusive prelates. NCR’s editors conclude that John Paul II should therefore “not be celebrated in public” any longer because his memory is “no longer a blessing.”
One NCR reader, Jon Schum, responded to that editorial in a letter to the paper, suggesting the canonization of John Paul II was done in a “hasty, thoughtless, uncritical rush. . .before the dust settled on his papacy.” For Schum, a major part of the late pope’s legacy involves his mistreatment of LGBTQ people, too:
“We should also not forget that this premature canonization was a deep insult and offense to LGBTQI Catholics and their families, given John Paul’s endorsement of then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s 1986 letter on the pastoral care of homosexual persons, which was anything but pastoral in it messaging. That letter’s content found its way into the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its condemnation of LGBT persons as ‘objectively disordered.’
“To this day, these two words have caused immeasurable oppression and suffering and are still dragged out whenever there is an urge to demonize and marginalize LGBTQI persons. This includes firing them from their positions in Catholic institutions, leaving them without employment and income, and opening deep wounds in the institutions and communities that cherished their witness and work. This is not past history. The Supreme Court heard arguments this fall that would permit religiously affiliated institutions that accept taxpayer funding to prohibit LGBTQI persons and couples from legally adopting children. This scandalous and heartless legacy is not one of a saint.”
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, November 25, 2020