FaithWorld

Pope John Paul’s beatification stirs pride and hope in Polish Church

(A procession at the Virgin Mary’s Offertory Minor Basilica in the centre of Wadowice, 22 May 2006/Tom Heneghan)

(A procession at the Virgin Mary’s Offertory Minor Basilica in the centre of Wadowice, 22 May 2006/Tom Heneghan)

In the sleepy town of Wadowice in southern Poland, they are sprucing up the main square and renovating the house where its most famous son, the late Pope John Paul II, was born as Karol Wojtyla 91 years ago. Wadowice, its streets decked out with stalls hawking kitsch papal memorabilia, hopes John Paul’s beatification on May 1 — the last step before sainthood — will lure even more pilgrims to the modest two-storey house which is now a museum.

The Catholic Church here and across Poland also hopes the beatification in Rome, bestowing on John Paul the title of ‘blessed’, will rejuvenate an institution whose image has been somewhat tarnished in his native land by political squabbles and a lack of charismatic leadership since the Pope’s death in 2005.

But even some devout Catholics fret that beatification, with all its commercial razzmatazz, may fail to get Poles thinking more deeply about their faith and the late Pope’s teachings. “About half a million people are already visiting Wadowice every year. Now we want to give them a modern, interactive experience of John Paul II,” said Father Pawel Danek, head of the museum, explaining plans to expand it tenfold to 1,000 square meters with the help of private and public donations.

Churches around Poland — where more than 90 percent of people say they are Catholic and some 40 percent attend mass every Sunday — will stage all-night vigils before the beatification. Tens of thousands of Poles will be among an estimated 300,000 converging on Rome for the ceremony.

Vatican invites all to John Paul beatification, cites “ethical” Rome hotel prices

()

(Catholic pilgrims hold up photos of the late Pope John Paul in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican January 16, 2011/Giampiero Sposito)

The Vatican has urged the faithful not to let reports of huge crowds or unscrupulous hoteliers deter them from coming to Rome for the beatification of the late Pope John Paul on May 1. “I invite everyone to come. Rome is ready. Don’t be afraid of coming or of inviting people,” said Father Caesar Atuire on Tuesday.

The Vatican has begun the countdown to what will be the biggest event in the Italian capital since the death of the charismatic and highly popular pope in 2005, when millions of people came to view his body or attend his funeral. Vatican officials expect at least 300,000 people — including tens of thousands from his native Poland — to come to Rome for the three days of events during which he will be declared a “blessed,” the last step before sainthood.

Pope John Paul’s coffin to be exhumed for faithful

jp2 coffin

(The coffin of the late Pope John Paul II in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, April 8, 2005/Yves Herman)

Faithful attending the beatification of Pope John Paul in Rome will be able to pray before his coffin, which will be exhumed for the event, the Vatican said on Friday.

The Vatican also warned the faithful around the world not to fall prey to fraudsters, particularly on the Internet, who are selling tickets to the beatification ceremony on May 1.

French nun says Pope John Paul gave her ‘second birth’

nun (Photo: Sister Marie Simon-Pierre poses in front of a picture of former pope John Paul II after a news conference in Aix en Provence, January 17, 2011/Jean-Paul Pelissier)

The French Catholic nun who credits the late Pope John Paul with curing her of Parkinson’s disease said on Monday her sudden recovery came just as she was about to quit working because of her ailment.

Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, 49, said she woke up in June 2005, two months after the Polish-born pope had died, suddenly cured of the disease she had suffered from for four years.

“When I woke up, I felt I was not the same,” Sister Marie told a news conference at the bishop’s office in this southern French city. “There was no more heaviness in my muscles, I could move normally. For me it was a new birth, a second birth.”

Seats still going for pope’s visit to Britain this week

pope glasgow (Photo: Workmen prepare altar for pope in Glasgow, September 14, 2010/David Moir)

Thousands of seats have yet to be filled for Pope Benedict’s public masses in England and Scotland this week, a far cry from the warm welcome his predecessor received nearly 30 years ago.

The pope arrives in Scotland on Thursday on a state visit at a time when the Church is struggling with a global sex-abuse scandal and hostility from one of Europe’s most secular nations.

The current pope has had a hard time inspiring the same enthusiasm as charismatic Pope John Paul II did during the first papal visit to Britain in 1982, when hundreds of thousands turned out to see him.

Sexual abuse scandals may dent wealthy Catholic order’s funding

macielThe Legionaries of Christ, a conservative Roman Catholic order that once had absolute and high-level Vatican support, has been disgraced by revelations its charismatic Mexican founder led a double life that included abusing young boys and fathering children.  Now it faces the prospect of a second serious setback as the wealthy donors who helped build it into an influential movement in recent decades consider whether to go on contributing to such a shamed organization.

Combined with damning findings from a Vatican probe last month, the future of the order is in doubt. (Photo: Pope John Paul II (R) and Father Marcial Maciel at the Vatican, November 30, 2004/Tony Gentile)

Osvaldo Moreno, a spokesman for the Legion, said it was too soon to say if donations were dropping off and no significant change had been detected. But he admitted the global media attention on the seedy details of founder Father Marcial Maciel‘s sexual escapades was not helping.

Papal envoy to run scandal-plagued Legion of Christ Catholic order

maciel

Pope John Paul II blesses Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ, during a special audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican November 30, 2004/Tony Gentile

Pope Benedict will appoint a special envoy to run and reform an influential conservative Roman Catholic priestly order whose late founder was discovered to have been a sexual molester and to have fathered at least one child.

A Vatican statement on Saturday (here in Italian original and English translation) said the pope would also name a commission to review the constitution, or founding principles, of The Legionaries of Christ, whose founder Father Marcial Maciel, led a double life for decades.

Uncertain leadership in Vatican as abuse crisis rages

Rain clouds over St. Peter's Basilica, 12 Dec 2008/Chris Helgren

Rain clouds over St. Peter's Basilica, 12 Dec 2008/Chris Helgren

When countries are threatened or institutions are in trouble, they look to their leaders to show the way out of the crisis. 

The Vatican is in trouble, its moral authority sapped by mounting allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests in the past and cover ups by bishops supervising them.

But strong leadership from the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church is hard to discern. Pope Benedict rarely mentions the crisis and some aides have made things worse with comments that are mostly defensive and sometimes offend.

Undaunted cardinal says John Paul backed his praise for hiding abuser

golias castrillon letter

Castrillon Hoyos letter congratulating Bishop Pierre Pican/Golias

A former Vatican cardinal who congratulated a French bishop for hiding a sexually abusive priest has said he acted with the approval of the late Pope John Paul, a Spanish newspaper reported on Saturday.

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the Vatican official in charge of priests around the world when he praised the French bishop in 2001, dragged the Polish pope into the controversy during a conference in the Spanish city of Murcia. His comment came after a Vatican spokesman indirectly confirmed that a 2001 letter to the bishop posted on a French website on Thursday was authentic and was proof the Vatican was right to tighten up its procedures on sex abuse cases that year.

By invoking John Paul, Castrillon Hoyos appeared to up the ante in a subtle Vatican power struggle over who was to blame for past failures to deal effectively with the abuse cases whose revelations in recent months have shaken the Church. Vatican officials had no official reaction on Saturday.

Agca says he is a messiah who will write a “perfect Bible”

agca note

A hand-written letter by Mehmet Ali Agca released by his lawyers on 13 Jan 2010/Umit Bektas

Mehmet Ali Agca, Pope John Paul’s would-be assassin due to be released from prison on Monday, has answered a set of questions put to him by Reuters through his lawyers. Earlier on Wednesday, his lawyers issued a hand-written letter to journalists in which he called for a new “American Empire.”  Our later news story on his answers to our questions highlights his stated desire to visit the late pope’s tomb in Saint Peter’s Basilica. The statement went on to call on Pope Benedict to announce the end of the world and say he would prove he was “Agca the Messiah” and would write the “perfect Bible.” Agca’s answers are rambling and bizarre. Since we’re bound to hear more from him when he’s released, here’s the complete text of the Q&A to give a fuller view of his current thinking. The Reuters bureau in Istanbul translated it from the original Turkish.

1. How are you feeling after your many years in prison?

“For around thirty years I have been staying in cells on my own. I experienced hell on earth. But in spite of everything I am well. I feel good in myself both physically and psychologically.”