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Sainthood fast-track for John Paul II

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 13 May 2005

Pope John Paul II has been put on the fast track to becoming a saint.

Pope John Paul II

There has been pressure to make John Paul a saint since his funeral.

His successor, Benedict the sixteenth, said he would dispense with the rule that normally imposed a five year waiting period after someone's death before the procedures leading to sainthood could even begin.

Pressure to make John Paul a saint has been there since the day of his funeral.

His opposition to communism, his long battle with illness, the sheer length of his pontificate left a massive impression on the Catholic Church's billion members.

Father John Wauk from the Holy Cross University in Rome told Channel 4 News: "If anyone saw the crowds at the funeral shouting: 'make him a saint right now', cannot be suprised by the decision."

Saints sometimes have had a bumpy ride. Saint Christopher was one of those created by popular acclaim in the first thousand years of the Church's history.

But like Saint Ursula, the papacy doubted whether they'd ever existed, and they both lost official recognition in 1969. The rules now are meant to be tighter.

The path to becoming a saint begins after death.

  • A suitable candidate is then referred to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome.
  • It will proclaim someone Venerable if its satisfied by the holiness of their life.
  • The next stage, beatification, usually begins five years after a person's death.
  • the Congregation looks for evidence of a miracle, for example, if someone is cured of a fatal disease after praying to the Saint in waiting.
  • Only with hard evidence of a second miracle, will the congregation recommend canonisation and the person becomes a fully fledged Saint.
  • Pope John Paul's impact on world affairs is not in doubt but that doesn't win a sainthood. Italian newspapers have been reporting at least three miracles attributed to him.

    But they all pre-date his death and so shouldn't be counted by the Congregation even if they can be verified.

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