Sign of Divine Providence
Wlodzimierz Redzioch talks to Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, about the cause for beatification of John Paul II
Wlodzimierz Redzioch: – On 14 January you went to the Holy Father with the request to sign the decree confirming the miraculous healing through the intercession of John Paul II. How did the Pope comment on the fact that his predecessor could be beatified?
Cardinal Angelo Amato: – That’s right, yesterday morning I went to the Pope with the decree. The Holy Father was glad that the beatification process had been completed. Besides, he was satisfied that the process had been conducted so quickly and operationally. The fact that we both were close collaborators of John Paul II made us follow the procedures of the process more firmly. If one thinks that the beatification process was conducted in a hurry and superficially one is wrong. Paying tribute to the Pope we wanted to do our best so that nobody would question anything in the future.
– During the process you were very self-controlled to comment on it. I hope that today Your Eminence can reveal your feelings. Were you convinced about the sanctity of John Paul II considering the fact that you knew him well and collaborated with him for years?
– Before the cause for beatification started I had been deeply convinced about John Paul II’ s sanctity. His sanctity was obvious to all mainly for two reasons. First of all, he was a man of deep faith and trust in the presence of the Divine Providence. It was thanks to this deep faith that he never doubted in the triumph of good over evil even when he had suffered during the times of Nazism and communism. I think that his sanctity is connected with his missionary spirit. I can see this Pope as a great evangeliser of the world. Each of his trips served to proclaim Jesus Christ and merciful grace of God. This fame of sanctity spread even more after his death. Suffice to see the people queuing to pray at his grave.
– Do you go to the grave of John Paul II in the Vatican Grottoes?
– Of course, I do. I go there on my own and sometimes I accompany others. I pray at the grave of John Paul II, asking him for help in our work in the curia.
– It was in December 2009 that Benedict XVI approved the decree confirming the heroic character of the virtues of John Paul II. How would you describe the Pope’s virtues?
– During the process the cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude and moderation) and theological virtues (faith, hope and love) of each Servant of God are analysed. I would like to stress again the great faith of John Paul II and the other virtues flow from faith.
– The completion of the Pope’s process is inseparably connected with the confirmation of the miraculous healing of the French Sister Marie Simon-Pierre who suffered from Parkinson disease. Is it true that the medical environment, and not only the medical one, regretted that some other ‘easier’ case (e.g. instantaneous healing from cancer) attributed to the intercession of John Paul II had not been chosen?
– I do not want to discuss medical topics because I am not a doctor. The medical evaluation belongs to the Doctors’ Council. It analysed the case of Sr. Simon-Pierre as in all cases of miraculous healings. The doctors had to solve problems that also appear in other extraordinary cases. The Congregation does not exert any influence on the decision of the Doctors’ Council. The scientists must express their evaluation according to the medical art and conscience. If in their opinions some healing cannot be explained scientifically the case is then referred to theologians.
– Was the procedure of the beatification of John Paul II different from other processes?
– In the case of the Pope’s process two facilitations were applied. Firstly, Benedict XVI allowed shortening the five-year period after the death to begin the cause for beatification. Secondly, we placed the cause on ‘privileged path;’ practically it meant that the next stage of the process began just after the previous one was completed. But I stress firmly that this process followed all regulations, without any leniency.
– Did the enormous pressure of the mass media, reflecting both the expectations of those who wanted Wojtyla to be ‘santo subito’ and the opinions of those who thought that the beatification of the Polish Pope should have begun in ‘100 years’, influence the course of the process?
– This huge pressure of the media and people made all those who were responsible for the beatification work with even greater prudence and attention. So one can say that it contributed to create an even stronger rigour.
– The Church puts great emphasis on the symbolism of dates. Do you think that John Paul II’s beatification on Divine Mercy Sunday is a good choice?
– I think so. The Sunday we celebrate the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ was chosen. It was the Pope, inspired by St Faustyna Kowalska, that established this feast day. That’s why the mood of this Sunday will be suitable to celebrate his glory in heaven.
– Another coincidence was noted. The Pope who was a worker in his youth and wrote several important documents on human labour will be beatified on Labour Day…
– This is a providential coincidence, which has a great significance. It is ‘subtlety’ of the Divine Providence.
– When can the cause for canonisation begin? What are the norms of the Church in this respect?
– It can begin at once. It means that the Postulation should select some special grace received through the intercession of the Beatified and conduct a process like it was in the case of the miraculous healing used in the cause for beatification.
– In a word – we can pray for a miracle to John Paul II…
– Of course, but the period between beatification and canonisation must be used by believers to get to know the figure of John Paul II better and for personal sanctification. Let us not forget that we are not only to contemplate the saints but also to follow their examples.