John Paul II intercedes for us
Stanislaw Klimaszewski talks to Monsignor Slawomir Oder, postulator of John Paul II's cause of beatification and canonization.
Stanislaw Klimaszewski: - In Poland we are looking forward to two events, i.e. the anniversary of the death of John Paul II and the pilgrimage of Benedict XVI. Is it possible that John Paul II will be beatified on either of these occasions?
MSGR SLAWOMIR ODER: - From the legal point of view the process of beautification is in such a moment that it would be difficult to reach such a conclusion. We are entering a relatively early phase of the diocesan investigation. Naturally, the Holy Father can do anything he wants. However, from the legal perspective we cannot cherish such hope.
- Is the process being carried on in the normal course of action?
- Of course. The Holy Father Benedict XVI waived the five-year period to begin a process but he did not cancel the procedure. The process is being conducted in the normal way.
- The investigation concerning a miracle through the intercession of John Paul II has begun in France. Do you think it was a miracle?
- The investigation began on 17 March. Its aim is to gather materials concerning the event, which was signalled and chosen as interesting for the cause. The fact that it began does not mean that it will finish positively. Since every investigation has some element of uncertainty. There are no obvious things in the process that takes place.
- The official web page of the beautification tribunal says 'The Course of Beautification and Canonisation of the Servant of God John Paul II'. Does it mean that John Paul II can be beautified and canonised at the same time?
- The procedure is to first proclaim somebody a Blessed and then a Saint. I do not know any exceptions from this rule in the modern times. Therefore, I cannot see any reasons to think that the process will end with a canonization. But as I have already said: the Holy Father can do everything what he wishes. Theoretically speaking, there is such a possibility.
- Another issue of 'Totus Tuus', which was prepared by the office of the beautification tribunal, has been published. What is the purpose of publishing such a bulletin?
- The bulletin is to accompany the cause of beatification of John Paul II. It is to be a tool to inform all those who are interested in the cause, and there are a lot of such people. We inform them how the Church deals with causes of canonization as such. We want to write in detail about the cause of John Paul II: about the stage of the process, about the proceedings, etc. Apart form the technical aspect we would like to keep the memory of him. There will be elements of teaching and proposals of prayer, referring to his spirituality. We also want those who are interested in the process to give their testimonies: who the Holy Father John Paul II was and is in their lives. Therefore, we publish many testimonies, which reach the office of the postulator, in the magazine, which is a monthly.
- What is the reception of this bulletin?
- Very big. Numerous press agencies have got interested in it. I had a nice phone call from a Russian press agency. Since our announcement on our web page, including the possibility of subscription, 25,000 copies have been ordered.
- Is the circle of people praying for the beautification of John Paul II increasing?
- The office of the postulator continually receives letters, applications and e-mails, which show that people want this beautification. They contain words of solidarity with us, our work and prayer. A sign of increased interest in the beautification is the prayer groups all over the world, which are created spontaneously and which are inspired by the teaching and spirituality of John Paul II. Our web page gives a possibility to register such a group. At the moment over one hundred groups have been registered.
- What is the address of the page and is it in Polish, too?
- Yes, it is but it is easier to enter the web page of the Diocese of Rome: www.vicariatusurbis.org and there is a link to the Polish version.
- Where does the largest number of registration come from?
- From South America and North America. There are many groups in Europe, too. We have two registrations from Africa and three from Asia. But we have received no registrations from Australia so far.
- Are these groups of some special prayer?
- The office of the postulator does not want to influence such initiatives at all. These groups are formed in a spontaneous way. We have only given them the change to introduce themselves on our web page. When one enters this page one can find a list of such groups as well as further references: their activities, programmes, aims and ways of prayer. These are Eucharist groups, prayer groups, and Bible groups. There are groups that pray, reflecting on the teaching of John Paul II. The variety of perception of John Paul II's spirituality is very big, depending on the historical and social context of a given group.
- Are there any new miracles being reported?
- I do not want to speak about miracles because a miracle is a very obliging thing and it requires a special process. But we receive a lot of information about graces through the intercession of John Paul II.
- What kind of graces?
- Various ones. They refer to people who give up addictions, who achieve peace in families, who have got jobs and whose daily things have been settled. Graces of healing. There is another interesting category, which differs from the other ones: the grace of fatherhood and motherhood because a child was born to parents who could not conceive a child for many years. This category is fairly big.
- John Paul II often spoke about culture of life, civilisation of love...
- Of course, this is very symptomatic. In this case his personality and spirituality appear very clearly. At the moment it is too early to speak about this but certain features of the process can be already noticed. Take for example the graces. Many of them concern family life: peace, love, mutual understanding, conceived life. These things are moving: after many years of medical treatment couples suddenly have children. What joy! The cure of the nun who suffered from Parkinson concerns this feature because she has dedicated all her life to care for the newly born children.
- Do Polish people write about prayer groups, too?
- To a limited degree. Perhaps we have not got full possibilities to use the Internet or we do not love this media.
- Or perhaps we were rooted in this pontificate for several years?
- Naturally, the pontificate of John Paul II was connected with Poland in a special way. But I must say that [...] the registrations that the office gets create some universal character of love that embraces the person of John Paul II. It is the fruit of his universal heart, the fact that he was the father of all people.
- Do people say about the date of the beautification of John Paul II?
- No, under no circumstances.
- Will Benedict XVI preside over the ceremony of beautification?
- This depends on the will of the Holy Father. It is known that the new practice, which the present Pope began, is that a cardinal presides over the rite of beautification and the Holy Father presides over canonisation.