While Pope John Paul II lived he could never have assurance of his salvation. That is the official dogma of the Church Rome. Indeed, like every other Roman Catholic, he could never be absolutely sure that he had ever received any of the sacraments that Rome considers essential to the reception of grace. Was he baptized? Confirmed? Ordained? Granted absolution? He thought so and hoped so, but according to his church the validity of the sacrament could be negated by the lack of a proper intention on the part of the priest or bishop who administered it. Even worse, since his ordination depended on a bishop laying his hands on him he had to trust not only that the bishop had a proper intention but that the bishop who ordained him had had one-and so on indefinitely. In other words, there was nothing certain about John Paul's religion. The best he could hope for when he was facing death was an indefinite time in purgatory.
Now that he is dead, the Church of Rome has decided that he really wasn't the sinner he thought he was, that in fact he was a saint. Now to Protestants a saint is a person who has been saved by the grace of God and has been vitally united to Christ by faith. Not so in Roman Catholic thinking. To Rome's way of thinking a saint is one of a small elite band of particularly holy people, people who were so holy in their lifetime that they accumulated all the merit they needed to enter heaven with enough left over for the Church to distribute among less deserving cases. So, soon after John Paul died, there were moves to have him recognized a saint.
That process is nearing its completion. According to Monsignor Slawomir Oder, the Polish priest who is in charge of arguing John Paul's case for sainthood, John Paul will be "beatified" in the very near future. The late Pope is being fast-tracked by a church desperate to cash in on his worldwide popularity. Even in the grave he will help keep Rome center stage in world news. Mgr. Oder said on a visit to the island of Ischia that he hoped the beatification would happen "by the spring of 2009, having already consigned the positio." The positio is a 2,000-page folder containing all the documents that allegedly testify to John Paul's holiness. It would be interesting to see if the positio records the articles written by Piers Compton in The Broken Cross. Compton was a Roman Catholic journalist who edited Britain's leading Roman Catholic journal for many years and he raised serious questions about the Pope's moral character and printed photographs that allegedly support his skepticism about John Paul's behaviour. I cannot comment on the validity of the journalist's arguments but I can say that if the same questions had been raised about any Protestant leader the world's press would have made sure they were widely distributed. At least there is a case to answer and so far Rome has simply ignored the matter.Instead, she is declaring John Paul a saint and will in due course regale us with a series of imagined or manufactured miracles to bolster her finding. It is all one big charade. And it is all too late to do John Paul the slightest bit of good. If he went into eternity depending on his works to get him into heaven (and the Catechism of the Catholic Church insists that is the only way to get in) he received a rude awakening. That is a sobering and tragic thought, one that ought to give every one of us cause to make sure that we have received by faith the imputed righteousness of Christ, the only real ground of justification and acceptance with God. Without that, even if Rome declares you a saint, you have nothing to commend you to God. So whatever Rome says or does now, it can do John Paul II no good at all.