Beatification announcement for John Paul II expected soon

by John L. Allen Jr.

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An announcement on the beatification of Pope John Paul II could come from the Vatican as early as tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 14, sources said today. Most observers expect the beatification ceremony to take place in Rome sometime this year, potentially as early as April for the six-year anniversary of the late pope’s death.

Today, a veteran Italian journalist reported that the cardinals and other bishops who serve as members of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints have approved a miracle attributed to John Paul II, involving the healing of a French nun suffering from an aggressive form of Parkinson’s disease.

The meeting took place yesterday, according to the report by journalist Andrea Tornielli, and the miracle was approved without any contrary votes.

Procedurally, the decision now has to be approved by Pope Benedict XVI in the form of a decree. Once that happens, the Vatican will issue a statement confirming the pope’s decision and setting a date for the beatification ceremony.

A “decree of heroic virtue” for John Paul II was approved by Benedict XVI in December 2009, certifying that the late pope lived a holy life and authorizing him to be referred to as the “Venerable” John Paul II.

Beatification is the final step before sainthood, and authorizes the candidate to be referred to as “blessed.” Organizers expect that the beatification ceremony for John Paul II, whenever it occurs, will likely be the largest public gathering in Rome since the events surrounding his death in April 2005.

Of the eight popes who reigned in the 20th century, only one, St. Pius X, has been formally canonized. Pope John XXIII has been beatified, and two additional popes, Pius XII and John Paul II, have been declared “venerable.” Sainthood causes have also been opened for Paul VI and John Paul I.

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