John Paul II’s beatification

Source: FSSPX News


Benedict XVI has waived the obligatory five year delay before the opening of the cause of beatification and canonization of his predecessor, John Paul II. The announcement was made during the first audience granted by the pope to the clergy of Rome, in the Basilica of St. John Lateran on May 13, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima and the 24th anniversary of the assassination attempt on the Polish pope.

The pope alone has the right to waive the five year delay before the opening of a cause, a delay which was decreed by John Paul II himself in his Apostolic Constitution Divinus perfectionis Magister, published in 1983. This document aimed at simplifying the procedure for declaring someone a saint. The present rules require a five year delay after a person’s death; according to the head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Saraiva Martins, it is only a “rule of prudence, to mitigate the emotion which generally accompanies the death of great personages of the Church.”

Mgr. Edward Nowak, secretary of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, expressing his opinion in the Corriere della Sera of April 11, said that it was “likely” that the next pope “could proclaim the sanctity of John Paul II fairly soon,” acknowledging the validity of the “proclamation of the people” on the day of his funeral. On April 8, in St. Peter’s Square, the faithful were waving banners which read: “Santo subito”asking for the immediate canonization of the deceased pope. The Italian Focolari Movement, which had expressed a desire for the lengthy procedures to be abridged for the deceased pope, was responsible for these banners. At the same time, the Vatican was inundated with testimonies of miracles attributed to the Polish pope.

Replying to the press agency I.MEDIA, on the announcement of the beatification process of John Paul II, the theologian of the Papal Household, Swiss Cardinal Georges Cottier declared that he already considered him a saint: “There was in him a certain inspiration from the Holy Ghost, and also in the way he lived through his illness. Speaking of sanctity does not shock me in the least.”

Cardinal Cottier also evoked the possibility of a long process, because John Paul II “has written much.” “It was a very long pontificate which changed many things in the life of the Church,” he stressed. He cited the example of the beatification process of Paul VI (1963-1978), opened in 1994. Given his numerous writings, “this process is following a steady pace,” he concluded.

In Poland, the announcement on May 13 of the immediate opening of the beatification procedure for John Paul II was greeted with elation. When the news was announced at noon that day many motorists began spontaneously sounding their horns in Warsaw. The TV channel TVP 3 showed uninterrupted text of the news for several hours. In the streets and in shops up and down the country, the main topic of conversation was the future beatification of Karol Wojtyla.

The following day, in La Repubblica of May 14, Cardinal Saraiva Martins declared: “Pope Wojtyla was a living Gospel, an example of holiness. He took the Gospel seriously, in its radicality and its consequences (…) Without reducing it, as he himself said.” John Paul II made his sufferings a means of evangelization, said the cardinal. “In a world bombarded with words, he made us understand that suffering is neither absurd nor useless, but precious for life.” According to the prelate, the faith of the pope was not “abstract, but concrete, existential…(it) was allied to his daily life and his ministry.”

The head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints also evoked the spontaneous initiative of many cardinals in favor of a petition asking the future pontiff to start the beatification process of John Paul II during the vacancy of the Apostolic See. “There were many signatures,” he acknowledged. “The petition expressed the feelings of the cardinals who were preparing for the conclave, and the feelings of the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.”

Questioned about the miracles attributed to the deceased pope, he was unwilling to speak about them, because each case has to be submitted to medical doctors, whose opinions must be heard. “But it is true that acknowledgments for graces received have been arriving at the Vatican,” he said, adding that in the beatification process, only posthumous miracles are valid. He also alluded to the “very many” e-mails and letters received by the Holy See, asking for the immediate canonization of John Paul II.

Explaining the procedure, he said that technically, the vicariate of Rome must as of now proceed with the opening of the process and the appointment of a postulator. Then documents will be collected and in a second step, witnesses to the heroic virtues of John Paul II will be heard. The cardinal was not able to say whether the process would be a lengthy one.