Thus, Cardinal Amato and former John Paul II spokesman Navarro-Valls make the unprecedented assertion that the Church can beatify, and therefore canonize, a pope based solely on the exhibition of virtue in his personal life, while not even considering his almost three-decade long pontificate. As anyone can see, this idea is preposterous. Candidates for formal canonization have always been judged on the heroic virtues of their lives as a whole. This is especially true for popes, as their pontificates are integral to their lives as Catholics.
This being the case, did John Paul II truly live out the heroic Catholic virtues of faith, hope, and charity in his pontificate? Does Assisi I &II, praying with animists at Togo, and asking St. John the Baptist to protect Islam display a heroic exercise of the virtue of faith? To the contrary, the Catholic virtue of faith would forbid these things in virtue of the First Commandment.
As for the virtue of hope, it is the hope that if we as Catholics cooperate with grace we will save our souls. But how can one say John Paul II heroically exhibited this virtue, when through the words and actions of his pontificate, he consistently gave the appearance of hope that non-Catholics can be saved through their own false religions? Also the Catholic virtue of Hope presumes the possibility of going to Hell or else there would be no need for hope. But since John Paul II questions whether any human souls are even in Hell, how can one say he exhibited the virtue of hope to a heroic degree?
Also, the Catholic virtue of charity would demand that a pope correct and discipline numerous prelates and priests who spread heresy and error in the Church. To the contrary, the only notable prelate John Paul II disciplined during his pontificate was Archbishop Lefebvre. Similarly, the virtue of charity demands the correction of widespread liturgical abuse for the sake of God, who deserves right worship, for the sake of the souls of the priests who commit these sacrileges, as well as the sake of the souls of the faithful who were constantly scandalized by such actions. Instead, although John Paul II apologized for liturgical abuses, he did little or nothing to stop them.
In response, some have brought up St. Celestine V as a pope who was personally holy but failed to have a successful pontificate. But the cases of John Paul II and St. Celestine are entirely different. First of all Celestine was only pope for six months. Secondly, while Celestine’s heroic holiness and severe penances as a monk are beyond dispute, he simply did not have any experience whatsoever in the government of the Church. Because of this naiveté he proved to be a terrible administrator by the world’s standards. But never during the course of his papacy did Celestine fail to exhibit any Catholic virtue, much less participate in public acts that would give reason to question that virtue.
Indeed, it is impossible to divide the one person of John Paul into two separate and distinct entities for canonization purposes. The Church cannot canonize the part of John Paul II who people say exhibited private heroic virtue, while ignoring the consistent lack or even opposition of those virtues in the course of a twenty-seven year pontificate.