FaithWorld

Excerpts of Pope Benedict’s homily at beatification of John Paul

(Pope Benedict XVI arrives to lead the mass for the beatification of Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's square at the Vatican May 1, 2011/ Max Rossi )

The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood on Sunday at a ceremony that drew more than a million people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. Here are excerpts from the Vatican’s official translation of Pope Benedict’s homily at the beatification mass:

“Six years ago we gathered in this Square to celebrate the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Our grief at his loss was deep, but even greater was our sense of an immense grace which embraced Rome and the whole world: a grace which was in some way the fruit of my beloved predecessor’s entire life, and especially of his witness in suffering. Even then we perceived the fragrance of his sanctity, and in any number of ways God’s People showed their veneration for him …

“I wanted his cause of beatification to move forward with reasonable haste. And now the longed-for day has come; it came quickly because this is what was pleasing to the Lord: John Paul II is blessed!”

——-

“Dear brothers and sisters, today our eyes behold, in the full spiritual light of the risen Christ, the beloved and revered figure of John Paul II. Today his name is added to the host of those whom he proclaimed saints and blesseds during the almost twenty-seven years of his pontificate, thereby forcefully emphasizing the universal vocation to the heights of the Christian life, to holiness …”

Eyewitness: How John Paul made an Italian-American “part Polish”

Reuters Vatican correspondent Philip Pullella covered the late Pope John Paul for almost all of the pontiff’s 26-year papacy and followed him on most of his many voyages around the world.  In keeping with news agency tradition, his reports focused on the pope and rarely if ever mentioned his own feelings as he followed him year in and year out. On the day that John Paul was beatified, we want to break that tradition and give readers Phil’s personal view of his experience covering the Polish pope.*

By Philip Pullella

Phil Pullella with Pope John Paul on the papal plane returning from a trip to Kazakhstan and Armenia, 27 September 2001)

Although I was born in Italy of Italian parents and raised in New York, I consider myself “part Polish”. This is thanks to the man beatified on May 1. But perhaps even more than my proximity to the late Pope John Paul, it was my closeness to his countrymen and countrywomen that left an indelible mark on my soul. And I don’t mean soul in the religious sense, but in the poetic sense. I have no Polish blood, but I have a part-Polish soul. Of this I have no doubt.

Pope John Paul beatified before huge crowd at the Vatican

(A view of the crowd in Saint Peter's Square during the beatification mass for Pope John Paul II led by Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican May 1, 2011/Stefano Rellandini)

The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood on Sunday at a ceremony that drew about a million and half people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. “From now on Pope John Paul shall be called ‘blessed,’” Pope Benedict, wearing white and gold robes, proclaimed in Latin, establishing that his predecessor’s feast day would be October 22, the day of the inauguration of John Paul’s pontificate in 1978.

To the cheers of the crowd, a tapestry showing a smiling John Paul was unveiled after Benedict read the proclamation. St Peter’s Square was packed and the crowd stretched as far back as the Tiber River, more than half a km away. The devotees, many carrying national flags and singing, moved toward the Vatican area from all directions from before dawn to get a good spot for the Mass.

Pilgrims make long, arduous trips to fete John Paul

(Pilgrims rest at St.Peter's Square in Rome April 30, 2011/Giampiero Sposito)

For Janusc Skibinski, there was only one place to be on the day the late Pope John Paul took the last step before sainthood. The Polish customs agent drove his family 29 hours from their hometown on the border with Belarus and queued with hundreds of thousands of people through the night so he could make it into St. Peter’s Square for the beatification of Poland’s most famous native son.

Clutching a red-and-white Polish flag, he was among tens of thousands of devotees from Poland, flanked by pilgrims from all over the world in the biggest crowd in the Vatican since John Paul’s funeral six years ago.

Factbox: Roman Catholic Church’s saint-making process

(Pope John Paul II covers his face during mass in Banska Bistrica in this September 12, 2003 file photo/Radu Sigheti)

The Vatican is preparing to elevate the late Pope John Paul II one step closer to sainthood Sunday.

Here are some key facts about the canonization process by which the Roman Catholic Church makes a saint:

Timeline: Life and times of Pope John Paul II

(The special edition postage stamps of the late Pope John Paul II, valued at 0.60 euro ($0.89) each, are seen in Rome April 29, 2011/Alessia Pierdomenico)

The Vatican is preparing to elevate the late pontiff, John Paul II, one step closer to sainthood on Sunday in a ceremony of beatification. Here is a timeline of the pontificate of John Paul.

October 16, 1978 – Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow in Poland elected as first non-Italian pope in 455 years.

Pope John Paul II – a halo too soon?

(Pilgrims stand in front of a giant image of Pope John Paul II at St. Peter's Square in the Vatican April 29, 2011/Alessia Pierdomenico)

Is Pope John Paul II approaching his halo too fast? As the Vatican prepares to elevate the late pontiff one step closer to sainthood this Sunday, the Catholic world is caught up with beatification fever.

Rome is festooned with posters of the former pope on buses and lamp posts as the city where he was bishop for 27 years awaits one of the largest crowds since his funeral in 2005, when millions came to pay tribute. At least several hundred thousand people are expected at the mass in St Peter’s Square where his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, will pronounce a Latin formula declaring one of the most popular popes in history a “blessed” of the Church.

Pope Benedict not fully welcome at German parliament next year

reichstag (Photo: The Reichstag building in Berlin, November 22, 2010/Pawel Kopczynski)

A rousing welcome in Berlin it may not be.

Pope Benedict’s invitation to address German parliament during his visit to his homeland next September 22-25 has not sat well with some members of the opposition. Volker Beck, the Green party floor leader, has protested that inviting a religious leader to address parliament, the Bundestag, is unprecedented and the wrong place to speak about religion.

“The German Bundestag is justifiably cautious when inviting a foreign head of state,” Beck told the German daily Die Welt. “Firstly the pope is the head of a religion and secondly the head of a state.”

Russian Orthodox Church’s Kirill on ecumenism, via Wikileaks

kirillSome interesting comments on Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, back in April 2008 when he was still Metropolitan Kirill, in a cable from the U.S. embassy in Moscow published by Wikileaks:

8. (C) Kirill seemed to be in good health was preoccupied as always with the, in his view, excessive emphasis on the individual in the West, and stressed the need to harmonize traditional human rights concerns with “morality and ethics.” Economic progress had been a two-edged sword for Russia, Kirill thought. With prosperity, Russians had “lost something” and Kirill, who is Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, pointed to less prosperous Smolensk as “better preserved” than Moscow or St. Petersburg.

9. (C) Kirill spoke highly of a UN-sponsored effort to bridge the gap between East and West by seeking an alliance of civilizations. Kirill was attempting to interest the UN in his efforts to sponsor ecumenical dialogue especially, he said, in the Middle East. As he has in past conversations, Kirill contrasted Roman Catholic Pope Benedict favourably with his predecessor John Paul II, and again held out the prospect of significant improvement in Russian Orthodox – Roman Catholic relations. Also on the ecumenical front, Kirill reported to the Ambassador efforts, via the Russian Orthodox Church of America and the National Council of Churches, to reach out to Protestant denominations in the U.S.

Pope dismays anti-Mafia activists on Sicily visit with scant mention of crime mob

falconePope Benedict said on Sunday the Mafia represented “a path of death” that Sicily’s young should shun but he dismayed activists who said he was too timid and should have given the crime group a moral hammering.

Benedict, making his first visit to Sicily as pope, celebrated an open-air mass for more than 200,000 people near the Sicilian capital’s port and then later addressed a rally of tens of thousands of young people. (Photo: Pope Benedict at a memorial in Palermo commemorating Italian judge Giovanni Falcone, killed in 1992 by the Mafia, October 3, 2010/Osservatore Romano)

The pope mentioned the Mafia only in that sentence of his two-page speech to the young people, which was centered on family values, and in a speech to bishops in which he mentioned that a priest, Pino Puglisi, had been killed by the mob in 1993.