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 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.

Belgium looks to Pope Benedict to help end its clerical sexual abuse crisis

brussels

(Grand Place, Brussels, 14 April 2009/Kiban)

Belgium’s politicians and prelates are looking to Pope Benedict to help end a clerical sexual abuse crisis that is crippling the local Catholic Church and frustrating judicial authorities unable to resolve it.

Calls to punish former Bruges Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, who shocked Belgium last week by publicly excusing abuse cases that caused his downfall last year, have come from the Belgian prime minister, justice and foreign ministers and several senior politicians. Belgian bishops have denounced Vangheluwe, 74, who quit as bishop of Bruges after admitting to molesting his nephew, and several bishops have made clear they want swift punitive action from the Vatican, which took control of his case this month.

But there is no consensus on what Benedict, who has the final say on Vangheluwe’s fate, should do. He has shied away from stiff punishments for bishops caught in the abuse crisis plaguing the Church in Europe and the United States.

Vatican warns China bishops over illegal ordination

(Christmas Mass at a Catholic church in Beijing December 24, 2009/David Gray )

(Christmas Mass at a Catholic church in Beijing December 24, 2009/David Gray )

Bishops in China who are ordained without papal authorisation inflict a “grave wound” on the entire Catholic Church and should not let themselves be manipulated by the government, the Vatican has said. The Vatican issued the warning on Thursday after a meeting of a special commission that studies the situation of Catholics in China, who are not allowed to recognise the pope’s authority but forced to be members of a state-backed Church.

Last November, the Vatican condemned the ordination without papal permission of Reverend Joseph Guo Jincai, a member of the state-backed Church in Chengde. For a period before that, China and the Vatican had reached an agreement that the Vatican would give tacit but not explicit approval to some of the appointments of bishops by the government-backed Church after discreet consultations.

It said at the time various bishops loyal to the pope had come under pressure to attend Guo’s ordination ceremony.