“The Great” or “Doctor”

I’m surprised more JPII Catholics haven’t picked up on the alternative to naming our late pope “the Great.” What about “Doctor?”

No, not that Doctor, but one of these.

Steve Skojec notes that only three popes in history are known as “the Great.”  Are JP II Catholic swinging for the fences? We have thirty-three acknowledged doctors in the west. Wouldn’t that be a stepping stone for JPII? Or perhaps that honor will be reserved for our present pope.

The average percolation date for naming doctors is several centuries. St. Thérèse de Lisieux made it on the centennary of her death.

So what do you say for John Paul II: great, doctor, or ask me again in a few hundred years?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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7 Responses to “The Great” or “Doctor”

  1. Well, The Doctor will be making his return to screen this week; but he won’t be a Doctor of the Church, alas.

    John Paul II? I don’t know. Time will tell.

  2. Gavin says:

    I’d say wait 200 years and see how he’s remembered and what sort of long(er) term effects his papacy will have had on the Church. I wouldn’t say he’s quite up to the rank of Doctor, but I’m also not familiar with his academic work.

    And I’ll spoil it for everyone: Davros comes back this season.

  3. Harry says:

    We are fortunate that we knew his greatness ourselves, regardless of what he is called in the future.

  4. Peregrinus says:

    In generaly, historical figures are only given suffixes like “the Great” (“the Fat”, “the Bald”, “the Baptist”, “the Divine”, . . .) where this is helpful to distinguish them from others of the same or a similar name.

    There are few contexts in which JPII is likely to be confused with JPI, and none at all in which he is likely to be confused with anyone else.

    At this stage in history, giving him a title like “the Great” seems to me to be a largely polemical act. I’m not enthusiastic.

  5. Gavin

    Well, so does Rose (and I called that over a year ago).

    Now calling JPII the Great, imo, is not a bad thing. Indeed, it is that kind of thing which one expects when one does find a great — they are recognized as such with the enthusian JPII got for it. Many of the greatest saints in history had such appeal — and often had fast canonizations because of it (look to St Anthony of Padua).

  6. Personally, I think I was ahead of the pack in naming the late JPII “the Great”. These days, my full title for the late pontiff (may his memory be eternal!), which I am keeping in Latin, is “Sanctus Joannes Paulus Magnus”. Subito Santo indeed!

    I think, however, that between his writings as Pontiff, his promulgation of the Code of Canon Law (both Eastern and Western), his initiation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and his placing Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in a position to continue after him, are all good reasons for naming him “Doctor”. Time will tell.

  7. Liam says:

    Well, I am not sure about Doctor, but Great as a secular term is OK because I think his stiff support for a non-violent reaction to the imposition of martial law in Poland in the wake of that fateful December (I remember that night well, as the news spread during the annual “Joy and Light” liturgy at St Thomas’s in Charlottesville, filling us all with a kind of dread of what would happen next) was in no small measure the reason the fall of the Iron Curtain happened relatively non-violently (Romania being the exception that proved the rule). That the 75 year bloodbath that commenced in 1914 ended so peaceably in 1989 was something of a miracle, midwifed by many (not just the Pope, but the Pope was the immovable keystone, I believe, laid at the top of the arch formed by the people).

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