For many centuries the Catholic Church retained a person who acted as a Devil’s Advocate to present contrary information about someone being considered for sainthood, about which Wikipedia notes:
“During the canonization process employed by the Roman Catholic Church, the Promoter of the Faith (Latin: promotor fidei), popularly known as the Devil’s advocate (Latin: advocatus diaboli), was a canon lawyer appointed by Church authorities to argue against the canonization of a candidate. It was this person’s job to take a skeptical view of the candidate’s character, to look for holes in the evidence, to argue that any miracles attributed to the candidate were fraudulent, and so on. The Devil’s advocate opposed God’s advocate (Latin: advocatus Dei; also known as the Promoter of the Cause), whose task was to make the argument in favor of canonization. This task is now performed by the Promoter of Justice (promotor iustitiae), who is in charge of examining how accurate is the inquiry on the saintliness of the candidate.
“The office was established in 1587 during the reign of Pope Sixtus V and abolished by Pope John Paul II in 1983.”
This story from the National Catholic Reporter by a former Vatican official directly involved in the issue of how Pope John Paul II dealt with sexual abuse in the Church during the 1980s, performs that role well.
Sitting on a bookshelf in my office is a red leather-bound copy of the Code of Canon Law. This isn’t just any copy of the church’s rulebook. It was signed by Pope John Paul II for me at the request of my former boss, the late Cardinal Pio Laghi. It is dated 6-6-1983 in the late pope’s own hand. I was definitely a fan in those days.
On Sunday after John Paul is promoted to sainthood, it will become a second-class relic. I will not venerate it, nor will I join the cheering crowds.
The past 30 years have led me to the opinion that his sainthood is a profound insult to the countless victims of sexual assault by Catholic clergy the world over. It is an insult to the decent, well-intentioned men and women who were persecuted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith during his reign, and it is an insult to the memory of Pope John XXIII, who has the misfortune being a canonization classmate.
This soon-to-be relic is a symbol of the shame and the failure of the book’s content, the collection of church rules, and of the pope who autographed it. People more eloquent than I have publicly stated the many reasons why this is so. I won’t repeat their words here. However, I believe it is important to clarify some of the bizarre statements John Paul’s two main cheerleaders have been making.
George Weigel claimed there was an information gap between the United States and the Holy See in 2002. This is nonsense. There was no gap then, and there was no gap in 1984, when the abuse issue boiled to the surface of public awareness. I was working at the Vatican embassy in 1984 and have firsthand experience of the transmission of information to the Vatican.
The papal nuncio, Laghi, then an archbishop, received a letter in the summer of 1984 from the vicar general of Lafayette, La., telling him that a couple whose little boy had been violated by Gilbert Gauthe was suing Gauthe, the bishop, the diocese, the archbishop of New Orleans, the papal nuncio and the pope. Soon after, the nuncio received the official complaint. From then on, there was a constant flow of information from Lafayette to the nuncio and from another diocese that popped onto center stage for the same reason — Providence, R.I.
I was the conduit for most of the information and prepared daily memos for Archbishop Laghi. The usual procedure would have been to prepare a report for the Holy See, but that didn’t happen at this stage. Laghi was on the phone to various officials in the Vatican, including the Secretariat of State, which is as good as going directly to the pope. In our conversations about the problem, and there were many, he frequently made statements such as, “I have talked to my superiors in Rome” or “My superiors in Rome” have said such and so.
Retrieved April 27, 2014 from http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/records-show-john-paul-ii-could-have-intervened-abuse-crisis-didnt