Protests persist and beatification nears

A growing lobby of churchmen and religious experts are challenging the speed with which the Vatican is propelling Pope John Paul II towards sainthood, just six years after his death, the Guardian reports.

Hailed as the pope who helped bring down communism, who prayed alongside Jews and Muslims, and shrugged off an assassination attempt, John Paul will be beatified in St Peter's Square next Sunday, a first step towards sainthood.

The Vatican is erecting tent cities and stocking up with millions of bottles of water. More than 300,000 people are expected to descend on Rome to honour the Polish pontiff whose charisma gave Catholicism a new lease of life.

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But as the crowds begin to arrive, doubts are being expressed over the decision to begin beatification proceedings for John Paul immediately after his death in 2005, instead of observing the usual five-year waiting period.

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