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Vatican announces beatification of John Paul II

Blessed John Paul II will be canonised on April 27 (CNS)

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints today published the decree announcing the beatification of John Paul II.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said Pope Benedict XVI will perform the beatification in Rome on May 1, which is Divine Mercy Sunday, a feast day instituted by John Paul II.

Cardinals and bishops of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints confirmed yesterday that a French nun had been miraculously cured of Parkinson’s thanks to the late pope’s intercession.

It will be only the second time the Pope has waived his own rule to preside at a beatification Mass himself.

Reports suggest that John Paul II’s body will be moved to a chapel in St Peter’s in time for the beatification. It is thought to be St Sebastian’s chapel, which until now has contained the remains of Blessed Innocent XI (1676-1689).

The Congregation said in its decree that a beatification is an “important sign of the depth of faith, of the diffusion of faith in the path of life of that person”, a sign that would become a “stimulus for us all towards a Christian life ever more profound and full … John Paul II’s pontificate was an eloquent and clear sign, not only for Catholics, but also for world public opinion, for people of all colour and creed”.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said there were “no corners cut” in assessing the miracle.

He said the case was subjected to “particularly careful scrutiny” to avoid any doubt and “to honour the dignity and memory of this great pope”.

Sister Marie Simon-Pierre was diagnosed with aggressive Parkinson’s in 2001. After John Paul’s death, her order began praying for his intercession. According to the testimony, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre woke up with her condition cured after having written John Paul II’s name on a piece of paper.

According to Vatican watcher John Allen Jr, reports earlier this year implied that she had fallen ill again, and that “at least one physician questioned the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, suggesting it may have been some other nervous disorder”.

“It would seem that the Vatican resolved those doubts to its satisfaction, however, as the miracle has been approved by both the Vatican’s medical and theological consulters, as well as the cardinals and bishops who make up the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the pope himself,” Mr Allen said.

The bishops of England and Wales have welcomed the beatification. In a statement, they said:

“The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales welcome with great joy the news that the Venerable Servant of God, Pope John Paul II will be beatified by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, in May this year.

“The choice of the First Sunday after Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, for the Beatification ceremony in Rome has much significance. Pope John Paul II put Divine Mercy at the centre of his spiritual life, his apostolic testimony and his teaching. It was also on the eve of this Sunday in 2005 that he surrendered his soul to the infinite mercy of his Lord and Saviour.”

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster said: “I warmly welcome the news that Pope John Paul II is to be beatified. Pope John Paul II is held in great affection by Catholics and people of good will in England and Wales. So many people here remember with great affection his visit to us in 1982. We also thank God for the powerful witness of his life and teaching, as well as the astonishing example he gave in suffering and death. His heavenly intercession will be sought by many.”