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Pope John Paul II

John Paul II – Henceforth Shall Be Called Blessed

My Pope’s a Blessed!

I remember seeing pictures of Bl. John XXIII in old relative’s houses, have vague recollections of Pope Paul VI, but I will never forget Sr. Mary announcing over the PA system that Pope John Paul died suddenly after only a 33 day reign.  I was in second grade when the whole class-the whole school-at St. Mary’s was glued to the TV waiting for the white smoke.  It was a beehive as the Filippini sisters kept making announcements and scurrying in and out of classrooms.  That’s when I first met my Pope.  We 20…30…errr…40-somethings can say that since JPII was pope for most of our lives.

For all the critics out there who think the pope is santo too subito, was too conservative, too liberal, mishandled the sex abuse response, etc., one thing is indisputable:  Karol Wojtyla lived a life animated by the Gospel…and that is a definition of a saint.  From his childhood struggles, his witness of the horrors and cruelty man can perpetrate against man, his underground pursuit of a priestly vocation, Karol Wojtyla centered his life on Christ and used his extraordinary gifts to preach what he lived.  This man left a mark on history that will be analyzed for decades, theological and philosophical writings that will be read for centuries with the likes of Augustine and Leo, but most importantly, he inspired generations of young people not to be afraid to follow Jesus.

Although I missed a small audience I was invited to attend due to the fact I was arrested by the Caribineiri (a story for another post) I did get to walk in a procession at Mass and sit a short distance from JPII (I have a coffee table book of the Pope’s Italian Marian Shrine tour and I’m clearly in a picture).  I’m overjoyed to see my Pope beatified, and will pray to him to intercede on my behalf that I may keep Christ as the center of my life,  use my talents to make the Gospel known, and live a life of courage to follow Jesus.

O God, who are rich in mercy
and who willed that the Blessed John Paul II
should preside as Pope over your universal Church,
grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching,
we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ,
the sole Redeemer of mankind.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.  Amen.

John Paul II, Pray for us

Some links…

Vatican Video – Watch Everything Here
Pope John Paul II’s Tomb Opened
JPII Official Facebook Page
Fr. Barron on What Makes a Saint
Abp. Dolan on Pope John Paul’s Heroic Sanctity
Fr. Martin, SJ on Why a Liberal Catholic Likes JPII
Pope’s Biographer, George Weigel, on Remembering JPII
Bishop Tobin Reflects on the Beatification
Abp. Dolan on JPII Priests

Pope John Paul II Gets Facebook and Youtube Pages

VIS announced that the Vatican has set up a Facebook page and a YouTube page for the upcoming beatification this May 1st of the Venerable John Paul II.

Venerable John Paul II: The Record Breaking Pope

Pope John Paul II to be Beatified May 1

Vatican Information Service announced this morning that Pope Benedict will indeed beatify his predecessor, Karol Wojtyla, on May 1, 2011.  George Weigel writes in the NRO:

Re: John Paul II
By George Weigel
January 14, 2011 10:00 A.M.The Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints has certified a miraculous cure through the intercession of Pope John Paul II, thus clearing the way for the late pontiff’s beatification on May 1. Using the word “miracle” in a broad sense, however, the greatest miracle of John Paul II was to restore a sense of Christian possibility in a world that had consigned Christian conviction to the margins of history.

In 1978, no one expected that the leading figure of the last quarter of the 20th century would be a priest from Poland. Christianity was finished as a world-shaping force, according to the opinion-leaders of the time; it might endure as a vehicle for personal piety, but would play no role in shaping the world of the 21st century. Yet within six months of his election, John Paul II had demonstrated the dramatic capacity of Christianity to create a revolution of conscience that, in turn, created a new and powerful form of politics — the politics that eventually led to the Revolution of 1989 and the liberation of central and eastern Europe.

Beyond that, John Paul II made Christianity compelling and interesting in a world that imagined that humanity had outgrown its “need” for God, Christ, and faith. In virtually every part of the world, John Paul II’s courageous preaching of Jesus Christ as the answer to the question that is every human life drew a positive response, and millions of lives were changed as a result. This was simply not supposed to happen — but it did, through the miracle of conviction wedded to courage.

Then there was John Paul’s social doctrine which, against all expectations, put the Catholic Church at the center of the world’s conversation about the post-Communist future. In 1978, did anyone really expect that papal encyclicals would be debated on the pages of the Wall Street Journal, or that a pope would rivet the world’s attention in two dramatic defenses of the universality of human rights before the United Nations? No one expected that. But it happened.

To make Christianity plausible, compelling, and attractive by preaching the fullness of Christian truth and demonstrating its importance to the human future — that was perhaps the greatest miracle of John Paul II, and his greatest gift to the Church and the world.

— George Weigel is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and biographer of John Paul II. His second volume on the life of the pontiff, The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II — The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy, was released this fall.

"Good morning, my intercessor and my very faithful friend"

A significant part of the “vetting” process the Church prosecutes before declaring a person a Venerable, Blessed or Saint is the proving of a miracle through the person’s intercession. Impartial physicians’ testimony and scientific evidence is gathered to assure the miraculous event was in fact miraculous.  Read this past post for more information on the process.

Deacon Jack Sullivan
Blessed Newman
Such was the case for the cause of Cardinal John Henry Newman when Deacon Jack Sullivan of Massachusetts prayed for his intercession and was cured of chronic, debilitating back pain. This miraculous healing, defying any medical logic, paved the way for Newman’s beatification this past September. Deacon Sullivan proclaimed the Gospel at the beatification Mass.
A second miracle is required before a Blessed is declared a Saint. Though not yet verified, there are several reports of miraculous healings after praying to Blessed Newman.  Deacon Sullivan was asked by the mother of a young girl suffering from incurable reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, a disease characterised by continuous and intense pain that worsens over time.  While watching the beatification ceremony from her hospital bed, the girl’s pain stopped.  Sullivan also reports miraculous happenings at healing ceremonies in which a relic of Blessed Newman is venerated:  a teenage boy was healed from a brain injury sustained in an auto accident and a Detroit man’s liver cancer vanished.  Full story here.  Deacon Sullivan begins his day with, “Good morning, Cardinal Newman, my intercessor and my very faithful friend”.

Sr. Marie Simon-Pierre
Pope John Paul II
Cries for Karol Wojtyla’s canonization were heard as early as during his funeral Mass, “Santo Subito”.  Pope Benedict waived the customary five year waiting period after death and proceeded to fast track his predecessor’s cause.  Declared Venerable in December of 2009, it appears as though JPII will be beatified as early as this year.  Reports have surfaced that the miracle required for beatification has been approved. 
The case involves the healing of a French religious sister from Parkinson’s disease. Sr. Marie Simon-Pierre was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease in 2001. Her order prayed to John Paul II after his death for help. After writing the Pope’s name on a piece of paper one night in June 2005, she reportedly awoke the next morning cured and was able to resume her work as a maternity nurse.
Blessed John Henry Newman and Venerable John Paul II, pray for us!

Popes John Paul II and Pius XII Declared Venerable

As anticipated, Pope Benedict XVI promulgated decrees presented by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints–21 in total.  Pope John Paul II  and a surprise–Pope Pius XII.

I blogged about the process toward sainthood so for a quick review click here.

Pope John Paul II Closer to Sainthood

CNS reports that the cardinal and bishop members of the Congregation for Causes of Saints unanimously recommended that Pope Benedict XVI formally recognize that Pope John Paul II heroically lived the Christian virtues.  The Holy Father approves such requests three times a year and is expected to declare his predecessor “Venerable” this December.  This is the next ‘official’ step in declaring John Paul II a saint, and considering a miracle has already been attributed to him, beatification should be right around the corner.

John Paul the Great.  Pray for us.

Pope John Paul II Closer to Sainthood

News continues to trickle regarding the progress of Pope John Paul II’s road to sainthood. Here’s a brief look at the process which was modified by JPII himself in 1983.

Servant of God. The process begins when a group of faithful or agent, usually sponsored by the bishop of the potential saint’s diocese in which he died, petitions the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. A five year waiting period after the person’s death is customary, though the pope can waive this requirement, as was the case with Mother Theresa of Calcutta and Pope John Paul II. An investigation commences for the purpose of gathering any and all information about the ‘potential saint’, including any writings, homilies, speeches, testimonies, eye witnesses, etc. A Postulator is assigned who acts as the ‘lead investigator’. As an interesting aside, the term “Devil’s Advocate”, or one who takes the opposing side for argument’s sake, has its origin in the canonization process as one who would argue against the cause of the potential saint. During this stage, the potential saint has the title of “Servant of God”. Pope John Paul II was declared a Servant of God on June 28, 2005, just five months after his death.

Declaration Non Cultus. During the investigation, the body of the Servant of God is exhumed and examined in order to certify that no superstitious or heretical worship or improper cult has grown up around the servant or his or her tomb. Relics are taken at this time.

Venerable. At the completion of the investigation when due diligence has been exhausted and sufficient evidence has been gathered, the “case” is presented to the pope for his stamp of approval. The desired outcome is for the pope to make a formal declaration that the Servant of God has undeniably demonstrated a life of heroic virtue. The potential saint is called “Venerable” at this stage. Reportedly the Servant of God John Paul II is at this stage now and the completed positio (position paper) goes to the cardinals and bishops of the Congregation’s members, who before the end of the year will decide on the heroic virtues of John Paul. Then it will be up to Pope Benedict XVI to decide whether to promulgate a decree, declaring him Venerable.

Blessed. Beatification is a statement by the church that it is “worthy of belief” that the person is in heaven, having come to salvation. This step depends on whether the Venerable is a martyr or a “confessor”.

For a martyr, the pope has only to make a declaration of martyrdom, a certification that the venerable gave his life voluntarily as a witness for the faith and/or in an act of heroic charity for others. This allows beatification, giving the Venerable the new title “Blessed” A feast day will be designated, but its observance is normally restricted to the Blessed’s home diocese. Parishes may not normally be named in honor of a Blessed.

If the Venerable was not a martyr then he is classified as a “confessor”, or one who bore witness to his faith by how he lived his life. Proof of a miracle is required. This has most commonly been a miraculous cure or healing of someone who had a devotion to the Venerable and prayed for his intercession. Such a miracle demonstrates that God has shown a sign that the person is enjoying the Beatific Vision in Heaven. With one miracle confirmed and the “Venerable” declaration coming shortly, odds are in favor of the Beatification of John Paul II occurring on the fifth anniversary of his death, April 8, 2010.

Saint. To be canonized a saint, one further miracle is necessary. Canonization is a statement by the church that the person enjoys the Beatific Vision with certainty. The saint is assigned a feast day which may be celebrated anywhere within the Catholic Church, although it may or may not appear on the general calendar or local calendars as an obligatory feast, parish churches may be built in his or her honor, and the faithful may freely and without restriction celebrate and honor the saint.

(Wikipedia.org, newadvent.org, et al)

Santo Subito!

As early as the funeral of Pope John Paul II the vox populi was heard and banners were seen declaring him a “saint now!”. Pope Benedict agreed, suspended the ordinary five year minimum post-mortem waiting period, and began the process.
There recently has been some ‘chatter’ that the investigation period was nearing a close but was delayed by the discovery of a suitcase containing 55 years worth of correspondence with a personal friend. Regardless, the pope’s former press spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, has said in an interview with Il Sole 24 that Pope Benedict XVI could announce the beatification as early as this year. There have been numerous reports that the beatification will take place on April 2, 2010, marking the fifth anniversary of his death. That’s where my money is! Enjoy the video.