Miracle gives ‘blessed’ status to John Paul II

2011-04-25 08:51

The late pope John Paul II’s beatification on May 1 comes at the end of a complex inquiry by the Vatican that has
attributed a miracle to him, putting the pontiff on the path to sainthood.

The procedure was launched soon after John Paul’s death on April 2, 2005 amid popular calls from many Catholics for him to be made a saint.

The first step to sainthood is beatification, which confers “blessed” status on lay and clerical figures recognised as remarkable by the Catholic Church.

Under the Church’s strict rules on saints, the procedure to determine whether any miracles can be attributed to the person in question is normally not launched until at least five years after their death.

But John Paul himself found a way to speed this up, allowing the popular Mother Teresa to be beatified in 2003 – just six years after her death.

It was thanks to this quicker route that John Paul II’s own beatification procedure was launched just two months after he passed away.

The procedure is launched by the bishop of the region in which the candidate died. In the case of the Polish pope, it was therefore his successor Pope Benedict XVI – head of the world’s Catholics and the bishop of Rome.

The first step is to establish “a reputation for sanctity”.

In order to do this the “postulator” leading the inquiry collects statements and examines the person’s writings.

He then send his findings to the Vatican and they are pored over by theologians and historians.

The dossier is then given to the “promoter” whose role is to try to find anything left out that could be unfavourable for the candidate.

If the dossier is valid, the candidate is declared “venerable”.

There then needs to be another procedure – this time with medical doctors involved – to show that the candidate has performed a miracle.

After further consultation by bishops and cardinals, the dossier is transmitted to the pope, who signs a beatification decree.

The miracle attributed to John Paul II is the healing – apparently unexplainable by science – of a French nun affected by Parkinson’s just after the pope’s death from the same disease.

For the “blessed” to become saints there needs to be another process called canonisation in which the Vatican has to prove a second miracle.

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