Evidently not all is lost in the Society of Jesus. For example, there’s Matthew Monnig, studying for ordination in the Society at Boston College. He’s actually a fan of JP2 and orthodox to boot. He writes in The Boston College Chronicle about how the Pope bucked the categories, contradicting all the expectations of him.
Those who cry for a future Pope to modernize the Church fail to recognize that that is precisely what John Paul did. He modernized it not by embracing modernity’s criticisms of the Church, but by making the Church relevant in the modern world. He put the Gospel first, and engaged modernity not on its own terms, but in terms of the Christian faith. He recognized those elements of modernity, such as liberty, social concern, tolerance, that were manifestations of Christian love and promoted them. He then consistently identified those elements of modernity, such as materialism, relativism, and self-absorption, that are in conflict with the Gospel and human flourishing and opposed them. Central to this was the way he reasserted the Church’s properly spiritual role in world affairs. History had put an end to the Church’s secular power, but John Paul showed the truly effective power of naked spiritual force, stripped of all direct political control. John Paul II successfully deposed an evil emperor-the Soviet Union-far more effectively than many of his predecessors who wielded power in unified Church-States. The irony is that in the modern era, when religious liberty has been embraced and religion separated from state, John Paul was still able to exercise tremendous influence over world events and world leaders. The unprecedented gathering of kings, queens, presidents, and leaders of other faiths at his funeral is testimony to the stature he gave the papacy. One could argue that the international standing of the papacy of John Paul II is at the highest point of Catholic history. In that sense, John Paul dealt a stunning defeat to those who think modernity means a Church no longer relevant to human life.
Sometimes the talking heads refer to the Holy Father as a paradox or contradiction. But Monnig says that it was contradiction, but consistency. It wasn’t the Holy Father who was inconsistent, but the rest of the world. His legacy is his radical adherence to the Gospel despite the fashions and trends and pressures from outside. And the people of the world recognize and praise him for that. It’s hilarious to see all these reporters stand among crowds of millions of pilgrims, shouting to be heard above their prayers, all asking how the Church can remain relevant. If they would open their eyes and look around them, they’d see that the Church is relevant; it is the old liberal dinosaurs, including the old media, who risk becoming irrelevant.