John Paul II’s canonization this weekend brings to mind an episode which I still consider one of the finest moments of the 20th Century papacy.
In the 70’s and 80’s, the Catholic Church was plagued by Marxist Liberation Theology and its Communist priests. One of them was Ernesto Cardenal of the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. The church told him to resign his position in that Communist regime, and he refused.
When Pope John Paul II visited Nicaragua in 1983, the regime hoped to use the visit for propaganda purposes as it combated the Contras. Cardenal himself made a big show of kneeling before the Pope as he arrived, supposedly hoping for a blessing.
John Paul would have none of it. Instead of blessing him, he openly scolded him on the tarmac as the world watched.
John Paul went on to put Communists in their place both in and outside the church. And for that I remain grateful.