'Great' title for John Paul?
Wednesday, April 6, 2005
If recent trends are to portend the future, late Roman Catholic pontiff John Paul II may be known to posterity as "John Paul the Great."
A growing portion of Catholics, and even senior clergy, have begun to use the title, which has been held previously by only three out of history's 264 popes.
Pope Gregory I of the sixth century, of the fifth century, and of the ninth century up to now, have alone been acclaimed "Great" in church tradition.
of New York, Cardinal O'Brien of Edinburgh (Scotland), Dublin's Archbishop Martin, and of Westminster — the highest Catholic clergyman in England and Wales — have been among those reported to have used the honorific for John Paul II.
Historian Robert Louis Wilken, writing in Catholic periodical Commonweal in 2003, "Greatness is as mysterious as it is elusive," alluding to the ambiguity of the criteria used in applying the title.
For instance, some figures — such as theologianor the apostle , the first pope — despite their wide influence in church history, have not been granted the honorific by historians or Catholic tradition, while others relatively unknown today were indeed accorded it.
Newspapers in Italy, the United States, and throughout the globe have featured the acclamation "Great" for the deceased pontiff. Catholic-oriented websites and online forums, as well, abound with the title.
The L’Osservatore Romano, also echoed the "Great" appellation.'s official paper,
Moreover, a Vatican homily text for Sunday, 3 April, contained a reference to the title. Though the honorific was ultimately not used during the homily's delivery by Cardinal, until John Paul II's death, it is maintained that Vatican documents can be considered official even when not read aloud.
- "Miles-long queue to view Pope John Paul one last time" — Wikinews, April 5, 2005
- "Funeral of Pope John Paul II will be Friday 8 April at 10.00" — Wikinews, April 4, 2005
- "Royal wedding delayed as Prince plans for Pope's funeral" — Wikinews, April 4, 2005
- "Pope John Paul II dies" — Wikinews, April 2, 2005
- "Faithful hold key to ‘Great’ honor: Movement builds to call late pontiff Pope John Paul the Great" — , April 4, 2005
- Robert Louis Wilken. "A Measure of Greatness" — , October 10, 2003