Pope Benedict XVI Friday approved a miracle attributed to Pope John Paul II, clearing the way for the late pontiff’s beatification, the final step before sainthood. The Vatican announced that the beatification ceremony will take place in Rome on Sunday, May 1.
While the announcement is expected to be greeted with joy around the Catholic world, critics have raised questions both about the substantive case for declaring the late pope a saint, including his record on the sexual abuse crisis, and the speed with which it’s occurred.
In a statement released this morning, the Vatican insisted that aside from waiving the normal five-year waiting period to begin a sainthood cause, on account of what it described as the “imposing fame for holiness” enjoyed by John Paul II during his life, in every other respect “the common canonical dispositions” for sainthood causes were “integrally observed.”
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Organizers expect that the ceremony will attract the largest crowd in Rome since the events surrounding the death of John Paul II and the election of Benedict XVI six years ago, in April 2005.
Formally speaking, beatification entitles a candidate to be referred to as “blessed” but not yet a saint. Traditionally, prayer and devotion to a “blessed” were encouraged only in that person’s local church, but John Paul II’s global appeal means that his beatification will have echoes well beyond his native Poland or the city of Rome.
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