Fr Ireneusz Skubis
The process of the beatification of John Paul II has begun in Rome. This happened only three months after his death. This is a unique situation in the recent history of the Church. It was already in the funeral of John Paul II that the faithful chanted: 'Santo subito - Sainthood now!' These words express an ardent desire of the people for whom John Paul II was always a saint.
On 28 June, in the basilica of St John Lateran there was a solemn celebration of the opening of the cause for the beatification of John Paul II. The canonical procedure is valid for popes, too. In this case Pope Benedict XVI waived the five-year period that is established by canon law and required after the death of a candidate for beatification. The whole world looked at John Paul II as a man of great faith, man of great God's love and man of powerful prayer. His sainthood was not ordinary. As a young priest Karol Wojtyla proved himself to be a man of great prayer. Not only a man of ordinary prayer, but a man of contemplative prayer. He devoted much of his time to be with God, to adore him in the Blessed Sacrament. He was often seen lying prostrate in front of the altar. It was said that when people looked for him during breaks between sessions of the Bishops' Conference he was most frequently found in the chapel. He was a pilgrim on the paths in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska. He used to go to Kalwaria - also to Czestochowa - as one of us, man-pilgrim. The words of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski are also quoted. When he was asked about Cardinal Wojtyla during the conclave he could say one thing about him, being a witness to his life: Wojtyla was a man of great prayer. Certainly that helped others elect him as future pope.
All of us could observe spiritual, prayerful life of Pope John Paul II. We had many occasions to see the Holy Father consecrate every moment of his life to Christ. We could see that looking how he behaved, for example on 13 May 1981, the day of the failed assassination attempt, or during the memorable last moments of his life. Those were not only words, no matter how cordial they could be. That was a testimony of life. Today some suggest that the cause for the beatification of John Paul II should be a beatification of a martyr. Although he did not die in the attempt, it was undoubtedly a bloody attempt on the life of the Servant of God, man who loved God and his Church very much. Thus we have so many requests and appeals concerning his immediate canonization. Numerous people also speak about graces and miracles that happened thanks to the intercession of John Paul II. The documentation is growing and becoming lengthy. At the same time one knows that all decisions will have to be in accord with the requirements of the canon law. The tribunal, which is to verify all evidence in the cause for the beatification of our beloved Pope, has already been formed.
We could watch the solemn opening of the cause on television. The members of the tribunal took an oath to do their duties faithfully, and the process will slowly continue. We may rejoice that Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the vicar for the Rome diocese, has been personally involved in the cause for the beatification because he is deeply convinced of John Paul II's sainthood. Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was John Paul II's secretary for many years, will undoubtedly belong to excellent witnesses to the Pope's sainthood. I remember our meetings in the Vatican when he showed us the peaceful and serene places where John Paul II used to be and he said, 'How much he prays here...' Today Archbishop Dziwisz, Metropolitan of Krakow, is an extraordinary witness to our Holy Father's prayer and unity with God. The witnesses are numerous since there are many people who were close to John Paul II and now they can publicly bear witness to his life. In some ways we can participate in the process of John Paul's beautification, too. We will do this by praying the prayer of the Church.