On this, the fourth anniverary of the death of Pope John Paul II, a time that brought millions into the streets of Rome chanting “Santo subito!“, the beatification process is moving, but not as quickly as some might hope.
Benedict prayed at John Paul’s simple tomb today, and yesterday (Wednesday) told Polish pilgrims he was praying for his predecessor’s beatification. ”May the spiritual legacy of your great compatriot inspire your personal, family, social and national life. Together with you I pray for the gift of beatification’.’
Just a month after John Paul’s death, Benedict suspended the usual five-year waiting period to allow the process to begin. And the required miracle has been identified for examination, involving the reported cure of a French nun with Parkinson’s disease.
Beatification is the penultimate step to be being officially declared a saint, which is canonization. And of course everyone in ehaven, as John Paul would surely be, is a saint. But the Vatican rightly wants to take its time; in fact, the greater the emotional outpouring, the more they want to move slowly.
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was the late pope’s longtime secretary and confidante, told Polish TV that “there is always hope” that John Paul will be made a saint before the fifth anniversary of his death. But he said the process must go though all necessary stages “so there can be no doubt.”
Also, the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints, Archbishop Angelo Amato, a confidante of Benedict, told Vatican Radio that the process must actually be more rigorous and thorough for a pope like John Paul since he was so well-known.
“Promptness doesn’t mean speed or superficiality; on the contrary this requires care and professionalism,” Amato said.
On the other hand, I like the old days, when sainthood was the result of local–or in this case, the global village–devotion that was only later recognized by Rome. That is in a sense what is happening today, though ever so slowly.