Faithful Prepare to Celebrate Canonization of 2 Beloved Popes


Newsmax Cover Story on Easter Sunday:

Rome is “ready, very ready” for the canonization of former Popes John Paul II and John XXIII, the Eternal City’s mayor, Ignazio Marino said this week.

9cf62673-fc83-4171-9c6e-780420595cadBut in truth no one really knows how Rome will cope with what some predict will be the largest crowds the city has ever seen.

The interior ministry expects the April 27 double canonization, presided by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square, to draw 800,000 pilgrims from all over the world, but others predict far higher numbers, possibly as many as 7 million.

An enormous contingent of pilgrims from John Paul II’s native Poland is expected, as well as significant numbers from the Lombardy region of northern Italy, the birthplace of John XXIII.

The Vatican says 19 heads of State will be attending as well as 24 prime ministers from 61 official delegations, representing 54 countries. Tickets are not required but seats will be difficult or near impossible to find and many are expected to camp out overnight to obtain the best places.

City authorities are visibly in full swing, already cordoning off major streets such as the Fori Imperiali that leads up to the Colosseum, repainting road markings and erecting 14 large screens in key areas all across the city.

Traffic is also starting to build, clogging key roads in the city, while Rome’s many hotels prepare for one of their best business weekends in years. Most rooms are sold out, and at least one hotel near the Vatican is charging as much as 700 Euros a night.

But despite the logistical challenges, Rome is well practiced in hosting such enormous events and tends to manage them well. Thousands of volunteers will join the protezione civile – Italy’s main body dealing with the management of exceptional events.

Security will also be tight: Italy’s interior minister has said 2,430 police units will be assigned to carry out checks and patrol sensitive targets.

Festive occasion

Canonizations for the Catholic Church are always great festive occasions and the fact that so many have memories of both popes, particularly of John Paul II, makes this event especially unique. Countless interviews have been released in recent weeks with close friends and associates of the two popes, each offering testimony to their personal holiness.

“Good Pope John,” as he became known, is best remembered for convening the Second Vatican Council that opened the Catholic Church up to the world to better engage with it. He is also praised for his landmark encyclical, Pacem in Terris, which laid out the Church’s vision for world peace in the nuclear age.

“Every chapter of the encyclical starts with a statement dealing with an aspiration of men … to peace, to freedom, to dignity,” said Cardinal Paul Poupard who worked in the Vatican Secretariat of State during Pope John’s papacy, in an interview this week.

John XXIII was a man of simple holiness who strove to bring peace and unity to the Church and to the world, but he was not a simple man.

“He has certainly been a complex figure, much more complex than the cliché of the “good pope”,” said Marco Roncalli, his great-nephew. “His path in life was complex, rich and spiritual, like the example he gave through his Christian virtues, delineated in the history of mankind.”

Reasons for John Paul II’s canonization are better known.

The Polish Pope, who many credit for helping to end Soviet communism, was a man of deep prayer and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Examples of his holiness and concern for others are many, and people were so convinced of his personal sanctity that they chanted “Santo Subito!” – “Saint Now!” – at his funeral.

Two miracles have been attributed to his intercession: a French nun cured of Parkinson’s disease soon after his death, and a Costa Rican woman who was healed of a brain aneurysm.

And yet despite the great adulation for these two Successors of St. Peter, not everyone is happy. Although it’s normal for two or more candidates to be canonized on the same day, many Poles would have preferred a separate canonization for John Paul, believing he deserves such singular attention.

Fans of John XXIII, meanwhile, lament that he’s often playing second fiddle to his better known and arguably more popular successor.

The double canonization has led to organizational headaches for the Vatican and few events are planned around the ceremony. But more significantly, there are those who have strong reservations about the Second Vatican Council, saying it was an imprudent move given the state of the world at the time, the misinterpretations of the Council teachings, and the precipitous fall in Church attendance, vocations, and a general weakening of ecclesial authority that followed.

John convened the Council; John Paul was its leading proponent, and many have noted the speed at which they will be made saints – a process that can often take centuries.

Furthermore, the fact that Pope Francis waived the need for a second miracle for John XXIII has led some critics to accuse the Vatican of simply wishing to “canonize the Council.”

But the majority of Catholics see this event differently. To them, it’s a means of holding up to the world the lives of two men whose outstanding personal holiness and close relationship with God shine like a beacon in a world where a “culture of death” – a term coined by John Paul II – has taken hold.

The light and example of these popes is sorely needed, they argue, in an age when Christ is being increasingly rejected or ignored and secularism is on the rise.
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John Paul’s Canonization Date Set


This article appeared in Newsmax, 3 September 2013:
Pope John Paul II will be canonized on April 27 next year, a top Vatican source has told Newsmax exclusively.

Although the Vatican has not officially confirmed the date, Pope Francis has already let it be known in a private conversation that the Sunday after Easter is the date he wants for the ceremony.

Seligsprechung Papst Johannes Paul II.When asked by an official close to the Pope’s inner circle whether a date had been set, Francis responded with a laugh and replied: “I can tell you now if you like! It will be April 27.”

The source told Newsmax: “I was surprised by his frankness, but he took a step back, laughed and then [said] the date. He was surrounded by top officials who didn’t seem to mind.”

Among those within earshot was Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the Pontifical Household, who will be partly responsible for organizing the canonization ceremony.

Pope John XXIII, who was pontiff from 1958 to 1963 and convened the Second Vatican Council, is also expected to be canonized on the same date.

The Vatican is expected to make an official announcement on Sept. 30 when a consistory of cardinals will formally approve the canonization date.

During a papal press conference on his return from Rio de Janeiro July 28, Pope Francis said both Popes will be canonized “together,” but said it was unlikely the canonizations would take place during the autumn or winter as many Poles will be traveling to Rome for the ceremony by bus, and the road conditions could be bad.

After speaking with Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, John Paul II’s former private secretary and archbishop of Krakow, he said two other possible dates arose: Christ the King Sunday, which falls this year on Nov. 24, and Divine Mercy Sunday — the Sunday after Easter — which will be on April 27, 2014.

Pope Francis said he thought there was “too little time” for the canonizations to take place in November and said he needed to speak with the person in charge of saints’ causes, Cardinal Angelo Amato. The cardinal said at the end of August that the date will be officially announced on Sept. 30.

Asked on Tuesday if he could confirm the date, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi told Newsmax: “The consistory is held precisely in order to establish and announce the date publicly, so I don’t think it’s correct to say that the thing is already decided. If it isn’t, we should save ourselves for the consistory.”

But he added: “We can say that it is very likely, given that the Pope made an explicit reference to [Divine Mercy Sunday] in the interview on the return flight from Rio, saying that he realized that in winter, it would be difficult for pilgrims from Poland and countries of Central and Northern Europe to attend, and so it was better to postpone until the spring.”
Divine Mercy Sunday is a special day for John Paul, who established the feast day in 2001. Its origins date back to Polish nun Faustina Kowalska, who had a devotion to the Divine Mercy after an encounter with Jesus.

In visions and conversations with Jesus, Kowalska, who lived from 1905-1938, said Jesus asked her specifically for a feast of Divine Mercy to be established so mankind would take refuge in Jesus.

John Paul II died on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday in 2005.

The theme of mercy is also central to the pontificate of Pope Francis, who has frequently said, “This is the time for mercy.” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio July 30 that Francis has “great effectiveness in helping people understand the theme of God’s love and mercy, which reaches out to soothe and heal the wounds of humanity.”

Pope Francis signed a decree July 5 that gave the go-ahead for the canonizations of both John Paul II and John XXIII. Usually two miracles attributed to a candidate’s intercession are required to become a saint. A French nun, who was inexplicably cured of Parkinson’s disease, led to John Paul II’s beatification on May 1, 2011.

A second miracle, which must occur after a beatification, involved a Costa Rican woman who was cured of a cerebral aneurysm the very day of John Paul II’s beatification.

For John XXIII, Pope Francis took the rare step of waiving the requirement of a second miracle, paving the way for his canonization.

Many are rejoicing at the speed at which John Paul II — whom many chanted ‘santo subito!’ (Saint now!) at his death — is being canonized. They see this as a further testament to his holiness, but some are uneasy at the haste of the process.

Often it can take centuries between the death of a person with a reputation for holiness and their canonization. But for John Paul II’s cause for canonization, the process was partially expedited after pressure was placed on Benedict XVI to waive the usual five years between a candidate’s death and the opening of their cause. Benedict agreed to the waiver in May 2005.

When the late Polish pontiff is elevated to altars on April 27, it will have been only nine years and 25 days since his death.


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Vatican Silent on John Paul II’s Cause for Canonization


by EDWARD PENTIN 05/03/2013

Catholic News Agency

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is remaining tight-lipped over recent reports that a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Pope John Paul II has been given approval by a committee of Vatican doctors.

An official refused to be moved to offer comment by the reports, as was the case with the postulator of John Paul’s cause. But if the news is true, the late Pope’s cause will have advanced considerably, possibly paving the way his canonization later this year.

In late April, the veteran Vatican watcher Andrea Tornielli of La Stampa reported that a Vatican panel of doctors had confirmed there was no medical explanation for a healing attributed to the intercession of John Paul II.

Although the process is being carried out in strict secrecy, Tornielli reported that in January the postulator of the cause, Msgr. Slawomir Oder, submitted a medical file containing details of the alleged miracle to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints for a preliminary opinion.

Two doctors of the Vatican who had already examined this new case both gave a favorable opinion, according to Tornielli’s article. The file with medical records and testimonies was then officially discussed by a committee of seven doctors in April. The panel, presided over by Dr. Patrizio Polisca, the papal physician, also gave a favorable opinion.

The alleged miracle — which had to have taken place after John Paul II’s beatification in May 2011 — must now be presented to a panel of theologians and cardinals to examine. If they agree with the doctors, the cause of Karol Wojtyla will be presented to Pope Francis to give his stamp of approval.

But if Tornielli’s account is accurate, already the most important hurdle appears to have been overcome, as neither the theologians nor cardinals can make clinical evaluations of the case. This means the canonization may not be far away and could conceivably take place as soon as this autumn, possibly on the closest Sunday to his feast day on Oct. 22. The 35th anniversary of John Paul II’s election also falls on Oct. 16.


WYD Announcement?

Some are even speculating Pope Francis might announce the date of canonization during World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in July, as the youth festivals were inaugurated during John Paul’s pontificate.

However, it is worth noting that it took some four years from the partial recognition of the first miracle — that of French Sister Marie Simon Pierre who was miraculously healed of Parkinson’s — to John Paul II’s beatification ceremony in 2011.

Msgr. Oder’s office declined to comment when contacted by the Register May 2, simply asking to contact them “at a later date.” A Vatican official, who has in the past voiced concern at the speed at which the cause is progressing, also said he had nothing to add at this stage, saying: “There are lots of things in life that can’t be done and get done.”

Another question mark over an early canonization is whether the significant amount of planning needed could be carried out in such a short space of time.

But the same concerns were flagged ahead of John Paul II’s beatification, and yet all the arrangements were in place within just four months.

With no clear information forthcoming from the Vatican the skeptics will continue to have their say, but this fact remains: Blessed John Paul II’s cause for canonization continues apace.

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