American scholar and papal biographer George Weigel has countered criticism of John Paul II's speedy canonisation process, saying accusations that he was responsible for scandals that took place under his watch are ultimately unfounded, reports the Catholic News Agency.
"The investigation into John Paul II's life has been very thorough, and the results fill four thick volumes," Weigel told CNA.
"John Paul himself waived the five-year waiting period usually prescribed between someone's death and the official opening of a beatification process in the case of Mother Teresa – another instance where there was great popular conviction about the deceased's sanctity," he said.
Weigel also took on the argument that the sex abuse scandals which came to light during Pope John Paul's pontificate – as well as the problems that began to surface with Fr. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ – are disqualifying factors.
"As a matter of fact, in the US and elsewhere, the majority of abuses cases did not happen on John Paul II's watch, although the revelations of them did," he explained.
"John Paul II was a great reformer of the priesthood, and the Church's ordained ministry is in far better shape today, because of him, than it was in 1978."
"Unless one understands that, one is not in a very secure position from which to assess how John Paul handled the abuse crisis when it burst into public view in 2002," he added.
Weigel acknowledged that certain Vatican offices, especially the Congregation for the Clergy, "were slower than they ought to have been in recognizing the nature of the problem in the United States and in devising appropriate remedies for it."
However, as for Pope John Paul himself, "once it became clear, in April 2002, that this could not be handled by the American bishops themselves and that a papal intervention was required, he intervened and made unmistakably clear that 'there is no place in the priesthood for those who would harm the young.'"
George Weigel slams critics of John Paul II's fast track to sainthood (Catholic News Agency)