Pope beatifies John Paul

2011-05-01 14:30

Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI beatified Pope John Paul II before more than a million faithful in St Peter's Square and surrounding streets on Sunday, moving the beloved former pontiff one step closer to possible sainthood.

The crowd erupted in cheers, tears and applause as an enormous photo of a smiling John Paul was unveiled over the loggia of St Peter's Basilica and a choir launched into a hymn long associated with the Polish-born pope.

The beatification, the fastest in modern times, is a morale boost for a church scarred by the sex abuse crisis, but it has also triggered a new wave of anger from victims because the scandal occurred under John Paul's 27-year watch.

Benedict pronounced John Paul "Blessed" shortly after the start of the Mass, held under sunny skies and amid a sea of Poland's red and white flags.

Benedict then received a silver reliquary holding a vial of blood taken from John Paul during his final hospitalisation. The relic, a key feature of beatification ceremonies, will be available for the faithful to venerate.

VIP guests

It was presented to him by Sister Tobiana, the Polish nun who tended to John Paul during his pontificate, and Sister Marie Simone-Pierre of France, whose inexplicable recovery from Parkinson's disease was decreed to be the miracle necessary for John Paul to be beatified.

Police placed wide swaths of Rome, even kilometres from the Vatican, off limits to private cars to ensure security for some of the estimated 16 heads of state and five members of European royalty attending.

Spain's Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia, wearing a black lace mantilla, mingled with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, Poland's Solidarity leader Lech Walesa and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who sidestepped an EU travel ban to attend.

Helicopters flew overhead, police boats patrolled the nearby Tiber River and some 5 000 uniformed troops patrolled police barricades to ensure priests, official delegations and those with coveted VIP passes could get to their places.

Thousands of pilgrims, many of them from John Paul's native Poland, spent the night in sleeping bags on bridges and in piazzas around town, and then packed St Peter's as soon as the barricades opened over an hour in advance because the crowds were too great.

Fastest beatification

They stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the main boulevard leading to the Vatican, Via della Conciliazione, as well as on side streets around it and the bridges crossing the Tiber leading to St Peter's. Rome police headquarters put the number attending at over a million.

"John Paul was a wonderful man and it's a privilege to be here. It's wonderful to see people from all across the world," said Anne Honiball, 48, a nursing home administrator from Worthing, England who carried a small Union Jack flag.

"We missed the royal wedding but we are Catholics and this was a bit more important, I suppose," said Honiball, a former Protestant who converted to Catholicism 10 years ago.

It's the fastest beatification on record, coming just six years after John Paul died and beating out the beatification of Mother Teresa by a few days.

Benedict put John Paul on the fast-track for possible sainthood when he dispensed with the traditional five-year waiting period and allowed the beatification process to begin weeks after his April 2 2005, death. Benedict was responding to chants of "Santo Subito" or "Sainthood Immediately" which erupted during John Paul's funeral.

  • MDK - 2011-05-01 14:53

    Who cares?

  • Francois - 2011-05-01 15:18

    I was notaware of the fact that Robert Mugabe is a believer. Maybe he is suffering from god - syndrome which can be summarised as follows: What is the difference between God and Robert Mugabe? God does not think he is Robert Mugabe. Thus can Pope Benedict XVI please confirm whether he had to ask Bob's permission or otherwise what the hell (no pun intended) - that in my opinion without prejudice killer of innocent people did there? Pope Benedict XVI, those people that Bob allegedly killed was widows and orphans (some of them) and the Jesus Christ (your boss) said that we must take care of those people - thus what is wrong with you?

      pepperment - 2011-05-09 10:33

      Go figure! It just shows you that the same kind of people stick together! Mugabe believes in free food, and royal treatment for the states men who attended! The church of Rome does not believe in the Jewish Messiah but heavenly bodies which has been renamed to secure the future for their pagan origins!

  • zaatheist - 2011-05-01 15:46

    Of course papa paul was beautiful. He ignored the rape of tens of thousands of children across the world by his celibate clergy, or worse, activley covered up crimes like these - This is Father Oliver O'Grady, a former Catholic priest. The church knew he was a child abuser. He gave this deposition last year in a civil law suit where he was accused of sodomizing a child over a hundred times. O'GRADY: I swear by Almighty God that the evidence that I shall give in this deposition will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.... If the boy was tall or fat, that wouldn't attract me. I tended to take boys that were rather slim built. I tended to be attracted to the genital area, and there was a part of me would kind of want to be in touch with that, or to discover that, to see that in this particular boy. Q: What is it.. what about the little girls did you find attractive? O'GRADY: If she had a short dress or something like that I might have been tempted to, and often did, maybe raise her dress in a kind of subconscious way, or should I say in a way that she's not aware that I'm doing that. But checking her out at the same time, you know. You'd get a glimpse of her underwear. Q: And did you find that arousing? O'GRADY: I did, yes. The viewing was more attractive actually than the touching in the girl's case. Q: How about how you would greet the little girl you were grooming? Just use the name Sally. O'GRADY: Hi Sally, how you doing? Come here, I wanna give you a hug. You're a sweetheart, you know that. You're very special to me. I like you a lot. She might respond 'I like you too'. And that would allow me to give a better hug to you.

      zaatheist - 2011-05-02 07:30

      One can only wonder why some Catholocs would give a thumbs down. Is it a thumbs down for Father O'Grady or a thumbs down because I exposed the sickness at the heart of this religion?

  • Mabhulwana - 2011-05-01 18:09

    Whilst we remain here on this earth we still do not know what happens in the afterlife (yes I do believe that there is life after death. It is possible that John Paul was a righteous and thet the Catholic Church is correct in its interpretation of sccripture, as regards the issue of sainthood. What if this is all wrong? what if we are being misled!

      zaatheist - 2011-05-02 05:29

      You are being mislead all right. There has never been a shred of evidence to support the existence of a god, all 4000 different gods that have been invemted by men over the centuries. Religion is all about money. Don't believe me? Well if a god created everything, then why is he incapable of making his own money? Ask Pastor Ray!

  • Jer007 - 2011-05-01 18:38

    Pope John Paul II is truly an inspirational figure who shone from the inside out with the love of God for all. I am so happy that we have a true role model to aspire too!

      croix - 2011-05-01 19:55

      Ummmm - tell that to the thousands of abused kids all over planet earth who trusted the clergy of the 'Holy' Roman Catholic Church!

      Mabhulwana - 2011-05-01 20:42

      And you are about to pray to him?

      zaatheist - 2011-05-02 05:30

      The Catholic church, that's the Mafia in frocks! The same methods are employed by both organisations, in fact I believe the Mafia learned their tricks from the Catholic church. Fear Extortion Intimidation Protection racket

  • luciano De nobrega - 2011-05-02 00:48

    Fanstatic.I totally agree with him being beautified to becoming a saint.Such an inspiration for us all

      zaatheist - 2011-05-02 05:30

      Jeez! It does not take much to inspire you, does it?

  • MattQ4 - 2011-05-02 10:53

    Hmmm.... So let me get this straight. He turned a blind eye to nearly 3 decades of the systematic rape and abuse of an entire generation of choir boys and children entrusted to the care of crapolic priests so now let's make him a saint? Then again Mugabe was invite to the "Beautification" ceremony so I suppose that does set the moral standard for the Catholic people. I guess is Mugabe is seen a palatable by the catholics then by a small stretch of the imagination, the previous dark lord could be considered for sainthood. Then again... the Catholic church found it's roots with the crucifixion and really got up to operating speed with the torture and murder of millions of pagans across Europe in the middle ages so I guess the church is just being true to its roots. Looking back on the bloody history of the catholic church it makes Al Queda look moderate by comparison. No wonder it's the fastest dying religion on the planet today.

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