1 May 2011. Beatification of John Paul II
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
The publication of this issue of ‘Niedziela’ coincided with the news that the day of the awaited beatification of the Servant of God John Paul II would be Divine Mercy Sunday falling on 1 May 2011. John Paul II established this feast in 2000 and he died on the eve of this feast day, 2 April 2005.
As early as on 8 April 2005, during the funeral celebrations taking place in front of St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, the first demands to raise the Polish Pope to the altars were proposed. Many participants of the celebration held banners with the words, ‘Santo subito’ (A Saint soon). A month later, on the anniversary of the assassination attempt on the life of John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI waived the five-year rule between death and the beginning of the cause for beatification, which the ecclesiastical law required.
The process of beatification was formally initiated by the Diocese of Rome on 28 June 2005. The members of the beatification tribunal took oaths in the Basilica of St John Lateran. The Polish priest who had been working in the Vatican for several years Fr Slawomir Oder was appointed postulator of the process.
Whereas in Poland the so-called rogatory tribunal began working in Krakow on 4 November 2005. Its aim was to hear the testimonies of Poles – witnesses of the life of Karol Wojtyla. The long queues (thousands of people) to the grave of the deceased Pope testified about his cult. People keep coming to the grave in the grottos of St Peter’s Basilica every day. Poles celebrate Mass near the grave of John Paul II every Thursday. In all continents thousands of prayer circles praying to God for the canonisation of the Polish Pope have been established. During his visit to Poland in May 2006 Benedict XVI expressed his hope for John Paul II’s beatification and canonisation in the near future. The readers of the popular Italian Catholic weekly ‘Famiglia Cristiana’ sent 50,000 letters and e-mails to Benedict XVI, asking him to hasten the process of beatification of our Countryman. Similar requests have been sent from other countries.
On 2 April 2007, the second anniversary of the Pope’s death, the solemn closing of the Roman (diocesan) stage of the process took place in the presence of many officials, including President Lech Kaczynski, in the Basilica of St John Lateran.
The gathered documentation was passed to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which began arduous works on the key document called ‘positio’ – analysis of the testimonies and the biography of the candidate for the altars considering the heroic nature of his virtues.
At the same time a separate canonical proceeding concerning the miraculous healing from Parkinson disease of Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, 40-year old nun, attributed to the intercession of the Polish Pope.
In May 2009, the commission of theologians of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints issued a positive opinion about the heroic nature of the virtues of John Paul II. Soon similar decisions were taken by the Vatican commissions of theologians, cardinals and bishops. The result of the completion of that stage was the promulgation, i.e. announcing, with the consent of Benedict XVI, the decree recognising the heroic nature of the virtues of John Paul II, on 19 December 2009. Thus the fundamental part of the beatification process was completed.
The year 2010 focused on the examination of the alleged miracle. For several months the doctors’ commission could not meet since they lacked a few expertises concerning the medical aspect of the sudden remission of Parkinson disease of the French nun in June 2005. The breakthrough and considerable acceleration occurred between November and December 2010 when the miracle was recognised by the doctors’ commission and then by the theologians. On 11 January 2011 the miracle was approved by the final body in the Congregation – the commission of cardinals and bishops, and on 14 January Benedict XVI signed the decree recognising the miraculous healing through the intercession of John Paul II and closed the cause for beatification. The Pope will preside over the beatification ceremony in Rome on 1 May 2011.
The beatification of John Paul II is for us, the Pope’s countrymen, an excellent occasion to face the whole teaching of the great Pole, included in his impressive pontificate, which we call ‘great.’ We should pay special attention to what the Holy Father spoke during his visits to his Homeland. In fact, he said everything and that’s why in the present situation, in the light of the very dramatic events in our country, one should know that the teaching and message of John Paul II to his countrymen include great hope. We are experiencing many fears, anxieties and concerns, and John Paul II tells us today as the only person, ‘Do not be afraid!’ He calls us to great conversion, deep reflection, especially return to the Gospel. Rescue for our Homeland is in the Gospel. If we squander the teaching of the Gospel we will squander Poland. The beatification of John Paul II should conquer our inertia, free us from hatred, mutual malicious remarks and many other sins, and it would be the biggest miracle of John Paul II for his Homeland that he loved so much.