Benedict XVI's Homily at Mass for John Paul II
"Death Was the Seal of an Existence Totally Given to Christ"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 2, 2008 .- Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave today when he celebrated Mass on the third anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

The date of April 2 has been imprinted in the Church's memory as the day the Servant of God Pope John Paul II [said] good-bye to this world. Let us again live with emotion the hours of that Saturday afternoon, when the news of his passing away was received by a great multitude of people in prayer who filled St. Peter's Square. For a few days, the Vatican Basilica and this Square truly became the heart of the world. An uninterrupted river of pilgrims paid homage to the remains of the venerated Pontiff and his funeral was a last testament of the esteem and the affection that he had won in the spirit of so many believers and people from all the corners of the earth.

Just like three years ago, today as well, just a short time has passed since Easter. The heart of the Church finds itself still submerged in the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord. In truth, we can interpret the entire life of my beloved predecessor, particularly his Petrine ministry, according to the sign of Christ resurrected. He felt an extraordinary faith in Him, and with Him, he maintained an intimate, unique, uninterrupted conversation. Among his many human and supernatural qualities, he had an exceptional spiritual and mystical sensitivity.

It was enough to see him praying: He literally submerged himself in God and it seemed that everything else during those moments was left outside. During the liturgical celebrations, he was attentive to the mystery being carried out, with a keen capacity to perceive the eloquence of God's word in the development of history, penetrating deeply into God's plan. Holy Mass, as he often repeated, was for him the center of the day and all his existence -- the "living and holy" reality of the Eucharist that gave him spiritual energy to guide the people of God on the path of history.

John Paul II died on the vigil of the Second Sunday of Easter, "the day the Lord made." The throes of death happened on this "day," in the new time-space that is the "eighth day," desired by the Holy Trinity through the work of the incarnate Word, dead and risen. Pope John Paul II showed on various occasions that already from before, during his life, and especially in the fulfilling of his mission as Supreme Pontiff, he was in some way submerged in this spiritual dimension

His pontificate, taken together and in many specific moments, presents itself to us as a sign and testimony of the resurrection of Christ. This paschal dynamism, which made of John Paul II's existence a total responding to the call of the Lord, could not be expressed except without a participation in the sufferings and the death of the divine Master and Redeemer. "This saying is trustworthy," the Apostle Paul says, "If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him" (2 Timothy 2:11-12).

Since childhood, Karol Wojtyla had experienced the truth of these words, finding the cross on his path, in his family, with his people. Very soon he decided to carry it beside Jesus, following in his footsteps. He wanted to be his faithful servant to the point of welcoming the call to the priesthood as a gift and a commitment for all of his life. With Him, he lived, and with Him, he wanted to die. And all of this by way of the unique mediation of most holy Mary, mother of the Church, mother of the Redeemer, intimately and truly associated with the salvific mystery of his death and resurrection.

In this evocative reflection, the biblical readings just proclaimed guide us: "Be not afraid!" (Matthew 28:5). The words of the angel of the Resurrection, addressed to the women before the empty tomb, which we just heard, became a type of motto on the lips of Pope John Paul II, since the solemn beginnings of his Petrine ministry. He repeated them on various occasions to the Church and to the world on the journey toward the year 2000, and after having passed that historical time, as well as afterward, in the dawn of the third millennium. He always pronounced them with inflexible firmness, first raising up [his] crosier predominated by the cross, and later, when his physical energies were weakening, nearly clinging to it, until that last Good Friday, in which he participated in the Way of the Cross from his private chapel, embracing within his arms the cross.

We cannot forget that last and silent testimony of love for Jesus. That eloquent scene of human suffering and faith, in that last Good Friday, also indicated to believers and to the world the secret of every Christian life. That "be not afraid" was not based on human strength, nor on successes accomplished, but rather, only on the word of God, on the cross and resurrection of Christ. In the degree in which he was being stripped of everything, at the end, even of his very words, this total surrender to Christ manifested itself with increasing clarity. As it happened to Jesus, also in the case of John Paul II, words gave way at the end to the ultimate sacrifice, to the gift of self. And death was the seal of an existence totally given to Christ, conformed to him even physically with the traits of suffering and trusting abandonment to the arms of the heavenly Father. "Let me go to the house of the Father," these words -- report those who were at his side -- were his last words, the fulfillment of a life totally oriented to knowing and contemplating the face of the Lord.

Venerated and dear brothers: I give thanks to all of you for having united yourselves to me in this Mass for the soul of the beloved John Paul II. I address a particular thought to the participants in the first world congress on Divine Mercy, which begins precisely today, and which aims to go deeper in his rich magisterium on this theme. The mercy of God, he himself said, is a privileged key for interpreting his pontificate. He wanted the message of the merciful love of God to reach all men and women and he exhorted the faithful to be its witnesses. (Cf. Homily at the dedication of the Shrine of Divine Mercy, Aug. 17, 2002.)

For this reason, he wanted to elevate to the altars Sister Faustina Kowalska, a humble religious converted by the mysterious divine design into the prophetic messenger of divine mercy. The Servant of God John Paul II had known and personally lived the terrible tragedies of the 20th century, and he asked himself during a long time what could stop the advance of evil. The answer could only be found in the love of God. Only divine mercy, in fact, is capable of putting limits on evil; only the omnipotent love of God can topple the dominance of the evil ones and the destructive power of egotism and hate. For this reason, during his last visit to Poland, upon returning to his native land, he said, "Apart from the mercy of God there is no other source of hope for mankind."

Let us give thanks to God because he has given the Church this faithful and courageous servant. Let us praise and bless the Virgin Mary for having ceaselessly watched over his person and his ministry for the benefit of the Christian people and all of humanity. And while we are offering for his chosen soul the redeeming Sacrifice, we ask him to continue interceding from heaven for each one of us, for me in a special way, who Providence has called to take up his inestimable spiritual heritage. May the Church, following his teaching and example, faithfully continue its evangelizing mission without compromises, spreading tirelessly the merciful love of Christ, fount of true peace for the entire world.

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John Paul II Showed That Christ Is All, Pope Says
Celebrates Mass on 2nd Anniversary of His Death

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 2, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI recalled the second anniversary of Pope John Paul II's death, saying that the "sweet scent" of his love for God has spread throughout the world.

Benedict XVI presided over a Mass for John Paul II today in St. Peter's Square. He spoke of the Gospel reading which the liturgy offered: the passage where Mary, Lazarus' sister, anoints Christ's feet with a flask of costly perfume and dries them with her hair.

The Pope said that this passage is full of "spiritual suggestions" since it evokes the "luminous testimony that John Paul II offered, of an unreserved love for Christ."

Banners reading "Sainthood Now" dotted the plaza. Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, a French nun who says that her cure from Parkinson's disease was due to John Paul II's intercession, was also there.

Overflowed

Like Mary's, "the 'perfume' of his love 'filled the house,' that is, filled the entire Church," Benedict XVI said amidst repeated applause from some 40,000 people in attendance.

"We who were close to him could take advantage of it, and for this we give thanks to God," the Pontiff continued. "But also those who knew him from afar could benefit, because the love of Pope Wojtyla for Christ overflowed, so to speak, to every region of the world, because of its strength and intensity.

"The esteem, the respect, the affection for him which believers and nonbelievers expressed at the moment of his death -- is that not an eloquent testimony?

"His intense and fruitful pastoral ministry, and even more, the calvary of his agony and the serene death of our beloved Pope allowed people of our age to know that Jesus Christ really is everything."

The cross

"The fruitfulness of this testimony," Benedict XVI continued, "we know it, depends on the cross." In the life of Karol Wojtyla, the cross "was much more than just a word," the German Pope added.

"Especially with the slow but unstoppable advance of his illness, that little by little stripped him of everything," Benedict XVI said, "his existence became a total offering to Christ, a living announcement of his passion, with the faith-filled hope of the resurrection."

"From a long time ago," he continued, "he had prepared for this last encounter with Jesus" and "like his divine Master, lived his agony in prayer. â | He died praying. He truly fell asleep in the Lord."

"The perfume of the faith, hope and charity of the Pope filled his house, filled St. Peter's Square, filled the Church and overflowed to the entire world," Benedict XVI exclaimed.

He continued: "What happened after his death was -- for the person of faith -- the effect of this 'perfume' that reached everyone, those close by and those far away, and attracted them toward a man that God gradually conformed to the image of his Christ.

"Beloved John Paul II, from the house of the Father -- we can be sure -- has not ceased to accompany the Church in its journey."

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Sanctity Began Early for John Paul II, Says Cardinal
Presides at Solemn Closing of Diocesan Investigation

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 2, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Pope John Paul II's intense relationship with God was already profound in his youth, said Cardinal Camillo Ruini at the close of the diocesan phase of the Pontiff's beatification process.

Cardinal Ruini presided over the closing session of the diocesan investigation today at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, on the second anniversary of the death of John Paul II.

The solemn opening of the diocesan phase took place June 28, 2005, less than three months after the Pope's death.

The Vatican phase will now begin with the elaboration of a report to be prepared by a collaborator of the postulator of the cause, under the guidance of a relator of the Congregation for Saints' Causes.

In his homily during the closing ceremony, Cardinal Ruini, the vicar of Benedict XVI for Rome, commented on John Paul II's intense spiritual life.

Boyhood

The cardinal said that Karol Wojtyla's spiritual life was "already strong, intimate and profound in his boyhood, and that [it] never ceased to develop and grow stronger, producing fruits in all dimensions of his life."

Cardinal Ruini added that God never sheltered Wojtyla from the trials of life, but rather was constantly "associating him ever and anew to the cross of his Son ... giving him the courage to love the cross, and the spiritual intelligence to see, through the cross, the face of the Father."

The cardinal continued: "In the certainty of being loved by God and in the joy of returning this love, Karol Wojtyla found the meaning, unity and aim of his own life.

"All those who knew him, from near or only from afar, were struck by the richness of his humanity, by his complete fulfillment as a man.

"But even more illuminating and important is the fact that such fullness of humanity coincided, in the end, with his relationship with God, in other words with his sanctity."

Faith

Cardinal Ruini said that the faith of John Paul II was that "of a man who, in a certain sense, had already seen the Lord, and who had made the direct experience of the mysterious and salvific presence of God in his spirit and in his life."

It is because of this faith, continued the cardinal, that Wojtyla had felt "the necessity and the duty to offer and transmit to all the truth that saves."

Cardinal Ruini also recalled the last moments of John Paul II.

With the help of those present in his apartment, John Paul II prayed "all the daily prayers: adoration, meditation and he even anticipated the office of the readings for Sunday," said the cardinal.

The cardinal continued: "Then, he said with an exceedingly weak voice to Sister Tobiana Sobotka, his authentic guardian angel: 'Let the Lord come.'

"Afterward, he entered into a coma, and in his room the vigil Mass for Divine Mercy Sunday was celebrated."

The cardinal said that Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, John Paul II's personal secretary, managed to give the dying Pope "drops of the blood of Christ."

Divine mercy

Cardinal Ruini said that divine mercy was the center of John Paul II's spirituality: "From it he learned to overcome evil with good."

Numerous Poles attended today's ceremony, accompanied by now-Cardinal Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, who also presided over a prayer vigil in the Vatican Grottoes.

Also present was Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, who was cured of Parkinson's months after the death of John Paul II, close to Aix-en-Provence, France.

The 46-year-old woman religious attributes her cure to the intercession of the Pontiff.

Next phase

The process of beatification passes now to the Vatican Congregation for Saints' Causes, whose prefect is Cardinal José Saraiva Martins.

The cardinal told Vatican Radio today "that John Paul II was dispensed from the five-year waiting period after death, prescribed by canon law, to begin the cause of beatification, but was not dispensed from the process."

Cardinal Saraiva Martins said: "Therefore, the Vatican dicastery proceeds now to review all the documentation that has arrived to us, following the paths indicated by the juridical prescripts.

"The prescripts of canon law must be respected."

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The Nun Who Thanks John Paul II for Cure
"Only Love Would Give Meaning to All of This"

ROME, APRIL 1, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the testimony of Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, a 46-year-old religious of the Little Sisters of Catholic Motherhood, who attributes her healing from Parkinson's disease to the intercession of Pope John Paul II. The translation of the text comes from the postulator of the cause for the Pontiff's beatification.

On Monday, the second anniversary of the Pope's death, the diocesan phase of his process of beatification will close.

* * *

I was diagnosed in June 2001. The disease struck the left side of my body, causing very serious difficulties for me, given that I was left-handed. After three years, the initial stage of the illness that was slowly progressive, the symptoms began to get worse: an increase in tremors, rigidity, pain, sleeplessness.

Starting on April 2, 2005, I began to worsen from week to week. I was wasting away, day by day. I was no longer able to write (being left-handed, as I said), or, if I tried to, what I wrote was barely legible. I was no longer able to drive a car, except for very short distances, because my left leg sometimes got blocked, even for long periods, and rigidity made driving difficult. In addition, to do my work in the hospital, I always needed more time. I was totally exhausted.

After the diagnosis it was difficult for me to follow John Paul II on television. However, I felt very close to him in prayer and I knew that he could understand what I was living through. I admired his strength and courage and they stimulated me to not give up and to love this suffering. Only love would give meaning to all of this. It was a daily struggle, but my only wish was to live it in faith and to adhere with love to the Father's will.

It was Easter 2005, and I wanted to see our Holy Father on television because I knew, deep within me, that it would be the last time I would be able to do so. All morning long I prepared myself for that "encounter" (he reminded me of what I would be in three years). It was hard for me, being so young. However, an unexpected occurrence at work did not allow me to see him.

The evening of April 2, 2005, the entire community had gathered to participate in the prayer vigil in St. Peter's Square, live on French television from the diocese of Paris (KTO). At the announcement of John Paul's death, my entire world fell apart. I had lost the only friend who could understand me and give me strength to go forward. In those days I felt a great emptiness, but I also had the certainty of his living presence.

On May 13, feast of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope Benedict XVI officially announced the special dispensation for the start of the cause of beatification and canonization of the Servant of God, John Paul II. Starting on May 14, my fellow sisters from all the French and African communities started asking John Paul II to intercede for my healing. They prayed incessantly, tirelessly, right up to the news of my healing.

I was on vacation at the time. On May 26, having ended a period of rest, I returned to the community, totally exhausted because of my disease. "If you believe, you will see the glory of God": this was the verse from the Gospel of St. John that, since May 14, had kept me company. But on June 1, I could not take it any longer! I had to struggle just to stay on my feet and walk.

On June 2, in the afternoon, I went to find my superior to ask her to release me from my work. She asked me to try to resist awhile longer, until the return from Lourdes in August, and added: "John Paul II has not yet said his final word." He was surely present at that encounter that took place in such peace and serenity. Then, my superior held out a pen and asked me to write "John Paul II." It was 5 p.m.

With difficulty I wrote "John Paul II." As I looked at the illegible writing, I remained some time in silence. And the day passed as it usually did.

At 9 p.m., after evening prayer, I left my office to go to my room. I felt the need to take a pen and write, as if someone had ordered me, "Take your pen and write." It was 9:30/9:45 p.m.

And my handwriting was perfectly legible! Astonishing! I lay on my bed, amazed.

Exactly two months has passed since John Paul II returned to the house of the Father. I awoke at 4:30, amazed at having been able to sleep. I suddenly got out of bed: My body was no longer painful, there was no rigidity and inside, I was no longer the same.

Then, an inner call and a strong desire to go and pray before the Blessed Sacrament. I went into the oratory and stayed in adoration. I felt a profound sense of peace and well-being; an experience that was too great, a mystery, difficult to explain with words.

Still in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I mediated on the Mysteries of Light composed by John Paul II. At 6 in the morning, I left to join my fellow sisters in the chapel for a moment of prayer followed by the Eucharistic celebration. I had to walk about 50 meters and at that moment I became aware that, as I was walking, my left arm was swinging by my side. It was no longer immobile. I also felt a lightness and a physical agility that I had not experienced for quite some time.

During the Eucharistic celebration, I was filled with joy and peace. It was June 3, feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As we left Mass, I was sure that I was healed. My hand no longer trembled. I went again to write and at noon I suddenly stopped taking my medicine.

On June 7, as scheduled, I went to see the neurologist who had been caring for me for four years. He, too, was very surprised as he noted the sudden disappearance of all the symptoms of the disease, notwithstanding the interruption of treatment for five days prior to the visit. A day later, our superior general asked all of our communities to give thanks. Every community then began a novena to John Paul II.

It has now been 10 months since any kind of treatment has been given. I have resumed working normally, I have no difficulty in writing and I even drive the car for long distances. I feel as if I have been reborn: It is a new life because it is not like before.

Today I can say that the friend who left our earth is now closer to my heart. He made grow within me the desire for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and love for the Eucharist, which have a place of priority in my daily life.

What the Lord has allowed me to live through the intercession of John Paul II is a great mystery, difficult to explain in words … but nothing is impossible for God.

And it is indeed true: "If you believe, you will see the glory of God."

[Translation distributed by the postulator of the cause for beatification; adapted here]

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Cause for John Paul II Advances
Case Focusing on Nun Cured of Parkinson's Disease

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 11, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The closing session of the diocesan investigation of Pope John Paul II's life and virtues will take place on the second anniversary of his death.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, Benedict XVI's vicar for Rome, made the announcement Saturday in a letter published in the diocesan weekly RomaSette.

The cardinal extended a public invitation to the ceremony April 2, the Monday of Holy Week, which will take place at midday in the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

The solemn opening of the diocesan phase took place June 28, 2005, less than three months after John Paul II's death.

In an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, and John Paul II's former secretary, said: "Now the word passes to the Curia in Rome."

After the closing of the diocesan investigation, the Roman phase will begin with the elaboration of a report to be prepared by a collaborator of the postulator of the cause, Monsignor Slawomir Oder, under the guidance of a relator of the Congregation for Saints' Causes.

That congregation will also receive the documents relating to the miracles attributed to John Paul II's intercession.

Miracle

Monsignor Oder revealed Saturday that the investigation is concentrating especially on the case of a French nun who was cured inexplicably of Parkinson's disease.

Cardinal Dziwisz, who was John Paul II's assistant for 40 years, said: "Juridically, the beatification allows for only one ... devotion of a local character, namely, in the Diocese of Krakow. In this, perhaps, there is a contradiction, as he has surmounted all the barriers, he belongs to the whole world."

The cardinal continued: "It is certainly possible to 'make the leap' to beatification and begin immediately with the process to make him a saint. However, this depends on the Holy Father.

"For a long time, the process of beatification did not exist; there was only canonization. Beatification is a juridical rule. The Holy Father can decide otherwise."

"Canonization is very different from the theological point of view," added Cardinal Dziwisz. "The declaration of holiness is only a prerogative of the Pope; in this regard, the Holy Father cannot be substituted by any one, as that declaration is connected to infallibility."


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John Paul II dream leads to cancer cure

A young Italian man's lung cancer has disappeared weeks after John Paul II appeared to his wife in a dream and reassured her that he would be fine, according to local media reports, with the local archbishop confident that a miracle has taken place.

Catholic News Agency reports that the young man from Salerno, south of Naples, who was diagnosed with lung cancer last year, has attributed his full recovery to the miraculous intervention of the late Pope.

According to Thursday's edition of local newspaper, Il Mattino, his wife prayed for John Paul's intercession, and the dead Pope reportedly appeared in a dream to her and reassured her that her husband would be fine.

A few days after the dream, doctors noticed the man's condition improve. Within weeks, his cancer had completely disappeared, doctors said. The cancer has not returned.

Archbishop Gerardo Pierro of Salerno told Il Mattino he was confident that a miracle had taken place. The diocese is currently looking into the case.

A number of other miracles due to the intercession of Pope John Paul II have already been claimed, including the case of an elderly French nun, who had been incapacitated by Parkinson's disease and was confined to her bed.

The nun experienced a complete and lasting cure after members of her community prayed for the intercession of Pope John Paul II shortly after the late Pontiff's death in April last year.


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John Paul II Left Lots of Private Writings, Says Ex-Aide
Cardinal Dziwisz Defends Decision Not to Destroy Them

KRAKOW, Poland, MAY 30, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Pope John Paul II left behind "piles" of personal writings, says Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was the Pontiff's longtime personal secretary.

"A man of work and also of the pen," was how the cardinal described the Polish Pope. "He wrote much."

The cardinal's move from Rome to head the Archdiocese of Krakow also meant that numerous private documents of John Paul II -- who said in his will that he wanted them burned -- went along with him.

"Nothing should be burned," said the former secretary a few weeks after John Paul II's death in April 2005. He repeated this in statements published today on the Web site www.korazym.org.

The 67-year-old cardinal expressed the above during a meeting in the archbishop's residence just after the conclusion of Benedict XVI's four-day visit to Poland.

John Paul II "was a cheerful man, always familiar, but serious," affirmed Cardinal Dziwisz. "He did not write things with the idea that they might be burned: to do so would be truly incomprehensible."

New center

Packets of documents have been examined in the context of the cause of beatification of John Paul II.

In the future they should be entrusted to a group of experts. They might be collected in the new John Paul II Center in Krakow, according to www.korazym.org.

The future complex "will not only be a museum," explained Cardinal Dziwisz. "It will of course have memorabilia of the Pope, but above all we want to disseminate what he did, from the defense of human rights to the defense of life, from commitment to peace to interreligious dialogue. It is important not to forget his legacy and to avoid confining it to museums and libraries."

It is not yet known to what degree John Paul II's personal documents will be part of this project.

The interest of some of the documents is indubitable, for example, the letter he wrote to Mehmet Ali Agca following the Turk's 1981 attempt on the Pope's life.

Never sent, the letter "is a wonderful text, and in the future it might be possible to show it so as to understand better how the Pope judged those events," said the cardinal. "A phrase that particularly impressed me is that which John Paul II wrote: 'My brother, how can we appear before the Lord if we do not forgive our faults reciprocally?'"

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Nun Links Cure to John Paul II's Intercession
French Religious' Case Is Being Studied

VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2006 (Zenit.org).- An account of an inexplicable cure that might facilitate Pope John Paul II's canonization has been published in the bulletin promoted by the postulation of his cause of beatification.

The document was written by a French nun, whose identity has not been made public, who says she was cured of Parkinson's with the Polish Pope's intercession. He suffered from the same disease.

"It seems to me that I have been reborn," wrote the nun, in the testimony that appeared in the bulletin Totus Tuus.

"Today I can say that the friend who left our earth is now very close to my heart," she added. "What the Lord has granted me to live through the intercession of John Paul II is a great mystery, difficult to explain with words ... but nothing is impossible for God."

The case of the French religious is the object of study by the postulator of the cause of John Paul II's beatification.

The nun recalled: "The disease was diagnosed in 2001 and the symptoms got progressively worse: accentuation of the tremors, rigidity, pain, and insomnia ... a constant worsening." Another "heavy blow" was the sense of a great void after John Paul II's death, she continued.

"I had lost the friend who understood me and gave me the courage to go forward. But I also had the certainty of his living presence," the woman religious remarked.

Prayer chain

Then, on May 13, 2005, the French religious heard Benedict XVI's announcement of the special dispensation for the opening of the cause of beatification and canonization of Karol Wojtyla.

The next day, a prayer chain was activated by all the French and African communities of the nun's religious congregation, praying for her cure.

At one point, when the nun was reflecting on a quotation from John 11:40: "if you believe you will see the glory of God," she had to struggle just to remain standing. She wrote John Paul II's name with difficulty. A few hours later, the account continues, she wrote again but with greater ease.

Two months after the Polish Pope's death, in the middle of the night, the nun got up and realized she had no pain or rigidity.

She felt an irresistible impulse to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, and engaged in long adoration with profound peace. She meditated on the rosary's luminous mysteries, introduced by the Pontiff. She felt an agility of movement that she had not had for four years.

On the feast day of the Sacred Heart, "as I came out from holy Mass, I felt certain that I was cured," wrote the French religious. "My hand no longer shook. The neurologist was surprised to see the disappearance of the symptoms. The congregation began a novena to John Paul II. Ten months have passed since then."

Totus Tuus is a monthly publication, promoted by the Postulation of the Vicariate of Rome, set up to document, analyze and report on the process of the cause of beatification and canonization of John Paul II, whose postulator is Monsignor Slawomir Oder, a Polish priest.

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The Fatima Pope - John Paul II
Interview With Journalist Renzo Allegri

ROME, MAY 14, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Pope John Paul II survived an attempt on his life in 1981 and said a "maternal hand" had saved him.

A quarter-century after the attack, journalist and writer Renzo Allegri reconstructed the event in a book entitled "Il Papa di Fatima" (The Fatima Pope), published in Italian by Mondadori.

In this interview with ZENIT, Allegri explains the connection between John Paul II and Fatima.

Q: Why is John Paul II the Fatima Pope?

Allegri: First of all, because he himself recognized himself in that "bishop dressed in white" that the three children, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, "saw" during the July 17, 1917, apparition, when the Lady confided in them the so-called secret of Fatima.

And also because, after becoming aware of that mysterious event, Pope John Paul II lived determined to comply with the petitions and desires contained in the Fatima messages.

He gave himself to this mission with all his being, offering himself as victim for the salvation of the world, promoting a worldwide "crusade" of prayer, especially among young people, and obtaining the historic results that all know: the fall of Communism in Eastern countries, the return of religious freedom in those countries and, perhaps, he also contributed to avoid a tremendous nuclear conflict that, according to historians, was visible on the horizon.

The relationship between Fatima and Pope John Paul II is, in my opinion, very great and still remains to be discovered.

Q: In your book you state that, although Karol Wojtyla was still little known, Padre Pio had already realized that he would become a very important man. You know Padre Pio's life well; could you explain what the saint of Pietrelcina was referring to?

Allegri: In the biographies of saints, it often happens that they have strong and precise "channels" of communication, which escape the control of rationality. This phenomenon was also verified between Padre Pio and Karol Wojtyla, and there are two concrete episodes, related in themselves, that demonstrate it.

In 1948, the young priest Karol Wojtyla, a student in Rome, had heard talk of Padre Pio and wanted to meet him. He traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo during Easter vacation and stayed a week.

It was never known what they spoke about. It seems that the saint of Pietrelcina "saw" him dressed as Pope -- and with blood stains on his white cassock. Of this prophecy, spread rapidly after Wojtyla's election as Pope, there was never confirmation.

However, undeniable is the fact that that meeting marked Wojtyla profoundly, arousing in him a great veneration for Padre Pio.

In 1962, Wojtyla returned to Italy as a bishop to participate in the Second Vatican Council. In Rome, he received dramatic news that a collaborator of his, Wanda Poltawska, a doctor and psychiatrist, had a serious tumor.

The doctors decided to attempt an operation, but the hope of saving her was almost nothing. Wojtyla wrote a letter immediately to Padre Pio asking for his prayers for Poltawska. Padre Pio, in those years, was subjected to very serious accusations.

The Holy See decreed serious disciplinary restrictions against him, prohibiting priests and religious from contacting him. Wojtyla was certainly informed about this situation, but he paid no attention because, for reasons unknown to us, he had "knowledge" of Padre Pio.

He sent the letter urgently by hand to Padre Pio through Angelo Battisti, an employee of the Secretariat of State and collaborator of Padre Pio. Battisti told me the story, handing me a copy of that letter, which Padre Pio asked that he read to him and, at the end, after a moment of silence, said: "Angiolino, one cannot say no to this."

Knowing that every word of Padre Pio had a mysterious and concrete repercussion in reality, Battisti was very surprised by that phrase. "Who might this Wojtyla be?" he wondered. He asked for information but in the Vatican no one knew him, except the Poles for whom he was only a young bishop.

Eleven days later, Battisti was asked to take another letter of Wojtyla to Padre Pio.

And in this letter the Polish bishop thanked Padre Pio because Poltawska "had been suddenly cured before entering the operating room." These are the certain facts we know and that demonstrate that Padre Pio, as on many other occasions, "intuited" God's plans on Wojtyla with disconcerting precision.

Q: How does the third part of the secret of Fatima enter in Pope John Paul II's history?

Allegri: In a mysterious way, as always happens with events of the Spirit. In theory, Pope John Paul II formed part of that "secret" since he was born. The mission was entrusted to him before being born and the history of his existence developed freely attuned to the designs of providence.

But, in fact, perhaps, he became aware of his mission only after the 1981 attack. We do not have scientific proofs, explicit documents that demonstrate the relationship between Wojtyla and the secret of Fatima -- only the conviction of the Pope himself that, after the attack, reflecting on what happened and reading Sister Lucia's text on the third part of the famous secret, recognized himself in that account.

Sister Lucia wrote that, during the apparition of July 13, 1917, she, Francisco and Jacinta had seen a bishop dressed in white who, half trembling, with halting step, afflicted by pain and sorrow, crossed, together with other bishops, priests, men and women religious, a great city in ruins, praying for the souls of the dead that he found on the way and [he] climbed up a steep mountain, on whose summit was a cross at whose foot he was killed.

In the light of what happened, Wojtyla was convinced that the vision had the characteristics of an authentic prophecy. And, with the passing of time, his conviction was strengthened until it became a certainty.

It is licit to think that he had, from Sister Lucia, other information and clarifications that we do not know. In the year 2000, nineteen years after the attack, Pope John Paul II was so sure of his conviction that he wished to make it known to the whole world.

That became a reality in Fatima, at the end of the ceremony of beatification of Francisco and Jacinta, through an address of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, before more than 1 million pilgrims, and countless millions of faithful connected live on television.

Also Wojtyla's determination to make his conviction public is an argument full of significance

Q: When did John Paul II understand that he was the Pope of Fatima, and what did he do after he became aware of it?

Allegri: As I already mentioned, it is thought that Pope Karol Wojtyla became aware of his own role in relation to the message of Fatima, after the attack, reflecting on what happened, the coincidence between the attack and the date of the apparitions of Fatima, and reading the text of the secret.

Since his youth, his Marian devotion was always very great. In his devotional practices, he gave priority to Polish Marian shrines, because they were part of his religious tradition, and also because he could not leave Poland.

But he knew the history of Fatima well and the part of the secret already revealed by Lucia, which speaks about Russia, Communism and the persecution of believers.

The attack made him "center" his attention on his own role in regard to Fatima. He was very impressed by the coincidence of the date of the attack, May 13 at 5:17 p.m., with that of the start of the apparitions on May 13, 1917.

He requested that a document be taken to him in hospital relative to the famous secret and he read it, discovering, in the still-unpublished part, details relative to his person that made quite an impression on him, to the point that he speaks about it three times in his testament.

And he began immediately, with ardor, to make the spirit of Fatima a reality. He reflected above all on the Virgin's request to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart. And, despite infinite difficulties, he did so.

Q: You maintain in the book that there is a direct relationship between the Virgin's request to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Why?

Allegri: The connection is suggested by two events and two dates.

In 1917, the Virgin said that if things were not going well, she would come to request the consecration of Russia. She made the petition in 1919, in an apparition to Lucia, specifying that the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart should be carried out "by the Church," that is, by the Pope in union with all the bishops.

But 14 years passed before the Virgin's petition arrived. Pius XII took it into consideration personally and carried out the consecration twice, naming Russia explicitly. But it was a private initiative and not made in union with the bishops.

To involve the whole Church in this consecration, naming one country specifically, Russia, implied enormous ideological and political difficulties, which many bishops did not wish to address. In fact, neither Pius XII, nor John XXIII nor even Paul VI was able to carry out the consecration in the way the Lady requested it.

John Paul II addressed this obstacle. But he was forced to take recourse to complicated and indirect stratagems to be able to name Russia. He sent a letter to all the bishops of the Church, inviting them to join him in the solemn consecration of the world, which would be carried out on March 25, 1984.

He did not name Russia in the letter but quoted the consecration formula that he would read, based on that pronounced by Pius XII in 1952, which named Russia explicitly. On reading the letter and the formula of consecration, the bishops would understand that it was the consecration that corresponded to that requested by the Virgin to Sister Lucia and that, therefore, specifically included Russia.

The ceremony was held. As though by magic, in just six years, there was a drastic change in the world, with the end of the Cold War, the collapse of several Communist regimes, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dissolution of the Soviet empire and the return to religious freedom in Russia and in all the other countries of the former Communist empire.

All occurred without the shedding of blood; not only that, but there were very curious and enigmatic details, or signs.

Observing the dates of the most important events of this great change, one sees that they took place on the dates of Catholic solemnities. For example, the Soviet Union ceased to exist when, at the end of a meeting, the presidents of Russia, Ukraine and Byelorussia announced its dissolution formally. This occurred on Dec. 8, 1991.

The 8th of December is the feast of the Immaculate Conception and it is easy to link it to the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The definitive sign that indicated the end and defeat of Soviet Communism occurred the day when the red flag was lowered which for many decades was raised in the Kremlin, and in its place the national Russian flag was raised. This occurred on December 25, 1991, one of the most important religious feasts of the Catholic Church: the Nativity of Jesus.

Coincidences? Of course, they probably are only coincidences, but they might also be signs.                                       
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Why John Paul II Proclaimed so Many Saints
Interview With Cardinal Saraiva Martins

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 4, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Quoting Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Joséé Saraiva Martins insists that "there aren't too many saints."

ZENIT interviewed the prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes to learn more about the workings of this Vatican dicastery. He also commented on the number of John Paul II's canonizations -- pegged at 480.

Q: How many causes of beatification and canonization have been introduced at present?

Cardinal Saraiva Martins: The number is very high. There are more than 2,200 causes.

Of these, more than 400 have completed the "positio" [a kind of report]; in other words, they are ready to be discussed, examined and studied further by the dicastery's different collegial bodies; and by historians when it is a question of a historical cause, theologians when it is a question of virtues, doctors when an alleged miracle must be studied and, finally, the cardinals of the congregation.

Q: Do you think there are too many or too few canonized saints?

Cardinal Saraiva Martins: Sometimes there is talk of a kind of inflation of saints. Some speak of there being many saints but I answer immediately that there aren't at all too many saints.

The number of saints and blessed increased in John Paul II's pontificate. He alone proclaimed more saints and blessed than all his predecessors together since 1588, the year this dicastery was founded.

John Paul II was very aware that there was talk of an inflation of saints and blessed, and he responded that it wasn't true.

The first reason the Pope gave was that he, by beatifying so many Servants of God, did no more than implement the Second Vatican Council, which vigorously reaffirmed that holiness is the essential note of the Church; that the Church is holy: one, holy, catholic, apostolic.

John Paul II also said that if the Church of Christ is not holy, it isn't the Church of Christ, the true Church of Christ, the one he desired and founded to continue his mission throughout the centuries.

Therefore, John Paul II said, holiness is what is most important in the Church, according to the Second Vatican Council. Then no one should be surprised by the fact that the Pope wished to propose so many models of holiness to Christians, to the People of God.

The second reason is the extraordinary ecumenical importance of holiness.

In "Novo Millennio Ineunte," the Pope said that the holiness of the saints, blessed and martyrs is perhaps the most convincing ecumenism, these are his words, because holiness, he said with even stronger words, has its ultimate foundation in Christ, in whom the Church is not divided.

Therefore, the ecumenism we all want calls for many saints, so that the convincing ecumenism of holiness is placed in the candelabrum of the holiness of the Church.

The Pope's third reason was that "the saints and blessed manifest the charity of a local Church," that is, today, the Holy Father said, local Churches are far more numerous than in the last 10 centuries.

Therefore, we shouldn't be surprised that there are also more saints, more blessed who express and manifest the holiness of these increased local Churches.

Q: What is the itinerary to attain to the honor of the altar, in other words, how does one become a Servant of God, venerable, blessed and saint?

Cardinal Saraiva Martins: According to juridical norms, every process of beatification and canonization consists of two fundamental phases: the diocesan "in loco" and the "Roman," namely, in the Holy See, in this dicastery.

In the diocesan phase, the bishop is the only juridical person who can decide if it is or is not a case of initiating a specific cause.

If a nun or layperson dies, the bishop must investigate if that person was really holy or not, according to the faithful.

Only if there is a reputation for holiness among the faithful, together with the local ecclesial community, can the bishop initiate the cause of beatification, once having obtained the sanction of this dicastery to begin the cause at the diocesan level.

If there is no reputation of holiness, if for the faithful that person has no reputation of holiness, the bishop cannot even initiate the cause.

This is very important, especially today, because there is much talk about the role of the laity in the Church.

Here we have a very important and fundamental case in which it is the laity that takes the first step in a cause of beatification. It is the laity that must say to the bishop, "In our opinion this person is (or is not) holy."

What must the bishop do specifically in the diocesan phase? First of all he must create a commission, a tribunal and collect all the documents relative to the person candidate to the cause of beatification, canonization, heroic virtues, martyrdom if it is a martyr, a miracle if there is an alleged miracle.

Once the bishop has collected all the documents relative to the person who has a reputation for holiness, he sends all the documentation to Rome, to the Holy See, to this dicastery.

Then the second phase begins, the Roman. When the documentation arrives here, the task of this dicastery and of the different collegial bodies within it is to examine and study it thoroughly.

For example, there is the historical consultation if it is about a historical cause, that is, old, of which there are no living witnesses.
There is the theological commission which must study, in the light of the documentation received by the diocese, if the real holiness of the person does or does not emerge.

If it is a question of a miracle, the medical consultation must study if the cure, the alleged miracle, is or is not really inexplicable in the light of medical science. For this objective, we have 70 medical specialists at our disposition. According to the nature of the cure presented by the dicastery as an alleged miracle, we can examine the case with the specialists of that branch of medicine.

If the doctors say that that cure has no scientific explanation, the question goes to the theologians who must study the problem of the relationship between the cure and the invocation and intercession of the candidate to sainthood. For example, if the sick person has prayed to Mother Teresa of Calcutta for his cure, that is, to intercede before God so that he will be healed, as the miracle is wrought by God.

One must analyze if there is a causal nexus between this inexplicable cure and the prayer that the sick person has made to God through the intercession of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Then the miracle can and must be attributed to the intercession of Mother Teresa. Therefore, the theologians must say if it is or is not a miracle.

Of course, once all these phases are completed, the process goes to the cardinals of the congregation. We have the so-called ordinary, made up of 30 cardinals, archbishops and bishops. They are the ones who have the last word.

The cardinals must or must not ratify, must or must not approve, the conclusions of the historians, doctors and theologians.

If the cardinals' ordinary approves the conclusions of the theologians, doctors and historians, the prefect of the dicastery takes it all to the Holy Father.

He speaks with him, discusses the different phases of the process; and he approves or does not approve, does or does not decide to beatify this person.

Therefore, it is quite a long process with a diocesan and Roman phase. They begin to be called Servants of God once the cause has been introduced at the diocesan level.

They become Venerable Servants of God once the Church has recognized their heroic virtues.

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"John Paul II Left the Church Stronger"
Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor's Tribute to Polish Pope

LONDON, APRIL 4, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of a homily preached Monday by the archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, at a Requiem Mass celebrated at Westminster Cathedral on the anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ,

We are here today to commemorate the death and to celebrate the life of a man whom God made great, and to ask for his intercession from the heart of heaven. The millions who gathered in Rome this time last year knew where he was destined, and they cried: "Santo Subito!"

The process for his canonization is moving ahead swiftly, and for that we can be thankful; but the human, Church process of raising him to the universal altars does not prevent us, in the meantime, from imagining where he now is, welcomed into the bosom of the Father as a good and faithful servant who is receiving his reward. That is why we can turn to him confidently now, in prayer, and ask him to bless us. For we hear his words still: "Trwajcie mocni w wierze" -- "Stay strong in the faith."

I want to welcome especially any people of Poland present here. You have come to our city in increasing numbers, to work and to make new lives; and in growing numbers you are present in our congregations. We are grateful to you, because you carry in your hearts, along with the rest of the Polish people, something of the heart of Pope John Paul II.

When Karol Wojtyla was elected Pope in 1978, he said he had come from a far country; but he made that country near to us all. He knew that the experience of his homeland, and the remarkable witness of the Catholic Church there, had much to teach the world, and to teach the Church.

Along with the Polish nation, John Paul witnessed the worst of evils of which human beings are capable: totalitarian oppression, massacres, the desecration of nation and soul. An orphan by the age of 20, the young Wojtyla had also known, in his own family, the most searing experience of bereavement and loss; and he saw his Jewish friends being taken from him to the Holocaust.

Deprived, therefore, of what most of us take for granted -- security, family, hope and meaning -- John Paul II was thrown back, at an early age, on the only resources a human being can ever truly rely on: the irrefutable knowledge that we are divinely created; the unalterable fact that we were created in dignity and for dignity; and the reassurance that God is the Good Shepherd, who walks with us and guides us and heals us, calling us constantly to him.

States and powers come and go, and inflict what seem for a time horrendous evils; but in time they pass away, while human culture, and our capacity to love and to serve and to build, live on, like a candle that cannot be extinguished even by the most ferocious winds. That was his experience, and that was his faith.
For 26 years, his papacy tenaciously witnessed to the power of that faith: He saw Communism collapse, and Western leaders come and go, and when he came to leave this earth, in a long struggle with his failing body, the world gathered round him in a mixture of awe and affection, because they knew that here was a greatness that could only have one source.

You will all be awash with memories, as am I, of those days last year. This cathedral was the site of a remarkable vigil, which the television companies linked with other vigils in other cathedrals around the world. How extraordinary and precious were those days. How vividly we still see their fruits. Britain is not as confidently secular as it once seemed. Ideologies have collapsed. People have returned to the faith of their childhood, or have approached priests to make tentative enquiries, or sought out the sacrament of reconciliation to receive the forgiveness and healing which Our Lord constantly offers us.

Pope John Paul II invited us, after his election as Pope, to open wide the doors to Christ, to open our hearts and minds. And it is for this that he shall be remembered: for breaking down walls, for crossing borders, for opening new spaces in us where Christ could enter and speak to us.

Karol Wojtyla wrote an early book called "The Acting Person." He was theatrical in the best sense: He understood, as bishop of Krakow and later as Bishop of Rome, the power of symbols; and he knew that actions speak louder than words. As the world began to close behind defensive walls of fear and religious bigotry, he called the world's religious leaders together to pray for peace; he prayed at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and inside the mosque at Damascus; he asked for forgiveness for the sins of the Church's history.

Wherever there was fear and mistrust, he sought to bring strength and reassurance and the message of God's love. He invited people to the mountain, to the feast of rich food and well-aged wines of which the prophet Isaiah speaks; and wherever there was a shroud over humanity he sought to lift it. Whether it was the grinding poverty of economic injustice or the death penalty or war or the denigration of life at the beginning and the end of our existence, he was never afraid to speak out and to challenge received orthodoxies; and nor should we.

Dear friends, our Church is a fragile community which draws people to it when it depends on the graces of prayer, not when it becomes preoccupied with internal questions. Pope John Paul II left the Church stronger because he focused it on what matters: He wanted to free our energies for building God's kingdom and for drawing humanity into relationship with Christ.

But he was never afraid of argument; and his service of the Gospel through the power of reason is one of his great legacies. Never before has a Pope produced so much food for the Church's journey, and we shall be digesting his teaching for generations to come.

Jesus tells Peter, the first head of the Church, that a belt will be put round him and that he will be led where he did not want to go. From the very beginning, John Paul II welcomed that belt. As Pope Benedict said yesterday in Rome, his life can be summarized in the two words: "fidelity" and "commitment."

He did not hesitate when he was made a young bishop of Krakow, and he did not waver when the College of Cardinals elected him in 1978. What God asked of him, he accepted, and he placed his gifts at the disposal of each new mission. As a powerfully athletic younger man, he worked tirelessly in the service of others; as an enfeebled elderly Pope, barely able to speak, he allowed his suffering to comfort others who were suffering, and to speak on their behalf.

"Suffering is present in the world in order to release love," he wrote in his apostolic letter "Salvifici Doloris," "in order to give birth to works of love toward neighbor, in order to transform the whole of civilization into a civilization of love." This was his task in those final months. Up until his last, faint breath, he knew God had a mission for him, and would speak through him in sickness as much as in health. And in this way, Pope John Paul II became the free-est of human beings, because his will and God's were so closely tied together.

There is so much that we here today can learn from our late, great Pope. The courage to accept what God has in store for us. The tenacity to preach the Gospel, in season and out of season, wherever we find ourselves. The capacity for keeping our minds and hearts on what is essential.

Above all, we can be inspired by John Paul's remarkable reliance on prayer. He was a man of contemplation as much as action; he knew when to withdraw, to be silent, to offer everything over to Christ. He knew that his strength came from the only strength that is real and lasting in our world, namely the constant love of God. He lived that love in the core of his being and dedicated himself wholly to that love.

And now, a year after he left us, it is that love that lives on. We turn to God, therefore, in grateful thanks, for giving us a prophet, an evangelist and a leader for our times. And in grateful memory of Pope John Paul II, we pledge ourselves daily to open wide the doors of our hearts. Christ takes nothing from us, as he was fond of saying, and has everything to give us. Why, therefore, be afraid?

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Pope's Address at Vigil Recalling John Paul II's Death
"He Gave Suffering Dignity and Value"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 3, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday night from the window of his study, to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray the rosary on the first anniversary of Pope John Paul II's death.

* * *

[In Italian]

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

We have gathered this evening, on the first anniversary of the death of our beloved John Paul II, for this Marian vigil organized by the diocese of Rome. I greet all of you present in St. Peter's Square, beginning with the Cardinal Vicar Camillo Ruini and the auxiliary bishops; I am thinking especially of the cardinals, bishops, priests, men and women religious and all the lay faithful, in particular young people.

Truly the whole city of Rome is gathered here on the occasion of this moving meeting of reflection and prayer. I address a special greeting to Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, metropolitan archbishop of Krakow, connected by video with us, who for many years was a faithful collaborator of the deceased Pope.

A year has already gone by since the death of the Servant of God John Paul II, which occurred almost at this same hour -- it was 9:37 p.m. -- but his memory continues to be particularly alive, as attested by the numerous ceremonies programmed over these days in all parts of the world. He continues to be present in our minds and in our hearts; he continues to communicate to us his love for God and for man; he continues to inspire in all, especially young people, enthusiasm for the good and courage to follow Jesus and his teachings.

How can the evangelical testimony of this great Pontiff be summarized? I will attempt to do so in two words: "fidelity" and "commitment"; total fidelity to God and commitment without reservations to his mission as Pastor of the universal Church. Fidelity and commitment which were even more convincing and moving in the last months, when he embodied in himself what he wrote in 1984 in the apostolic letter "Salvifici Doloris": "suffering is present in the world in order to release love, in order to give birth to works of love toward neighbor, in order to transform the whole human civilization into a 'civilization of love'" (No. 30).

His illness, faced with courage, made everyone pay more attention to human pain, to all physical and spiritual pain; he gave suffering dignity and value, demonstrating that man is not of worth for his efficiency or his appearance, but for himself, because he has been created and loved by God.

With his words and gestures, our beloved John Paul II did not tire of pointing out to the world that, if man allows himself to be embraced by Christ, it does not mortify the richness of his humanity; if he loves Him with all his heart, he will lack nothing. On the contrary, the encounter with Christ makes our life more exciting.

Precisely because he drew ever closer to God in prayer, in contemplation, in love of the Truth and of Beauty, our beloved Pope was able to makes himself a fellow traveler of each one of us and to speak with authority even to those who are distant from the Christian faith.

On the first anniversary of his return to the Father's House, we are invited this evening to take up again the spiritual heritage he left us. He stimulates us, among other things, to live tirelessly seeking Truth, as it alone can satisfy our hearts. He encourages us not to be afraid to follow Christ to take the proclamation of the Gospel to all, which is the leaven of a more fraternal and solidaristic humanity.

May John Paul II help us from heaven to continue on our journey, being docile disciples of Jesus, in order to be, as he himself was fond of saying to young people, "watchmen of the dawn" at the beginning of this third Christian millennium. For this reason, we invoke Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, for whom he always had a tender devotion.

I now address the faithful in Poland who are connected with us.

[In Polish]

Let us be united in spirit with the Poles who have gathered in Krakow, Warsaw and other places for the vigil. The memory of John Paul II is alive among us and the sense of his spiritual presence is not dissipated. May the memory of the particular love he felt for his compatriots always be for you the light on the path to Christ. "Remain strong in the faith." I bless you from my heart.

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The Cause for John Paul II's Beatification
Interview With Cardinal Saraiva Martins

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 2, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes says that he cannot tell when John Paul II might be beatified, since the process hasn't arrived at his dicastery.

Cardinal Joséé Saraiva Martins talked about the cause with ZENIT.

Q: How is John Paul II's cause of beatification proceeding?

Cardinal Saraiva Martins: Benedict XVI has dispensed from the established waiting period following death to initiate the cause of beatification, but he has not dispensed from the process itself, from either of the two phases. And this is often confused.

The Pope has dispensed from the five-year wait following death which canon law calls for. In the case of Mother Teresa of Calcutta [the previous Pope] granted a dispensation of two and a half years. In John Paul II's case, the Pope has dispensed from nearly the entire five years.

Nevertheless, John Paul II's case is still in the diocesan phase, which is the first phase. Since he died in Rome, the case is handled in the Diocese of Rome. That is, the point of reference is the Vicariate of Rome. Therefore, it is the bishop-vicar of Rome who must direct the procedure, and at present he is proceeding with the research.

All unpublished documents relative to John Paul II must be collected, for example, his writings, whether personal letters or diaries. Testimonies of the faithful must be gathered attesting to John Paul II's holiness. Those who are convinced he was truly a saint must go and are going to the Vicariate of Rome to give their testimony on John Paul II's holiness.

They must complete questionnaires and sign to attest to what they say. These testimonies will be part of the "positio" [report] that will be examined by theologians, doctors, etc. Therefore, for reasons of seriousness, all that is said must be signed by the one who says it.

The diocesan phase of John Paul II's beatification began in September, when this dicastery issued a decree.

It is not possible to know when the work will end, or how long this phase will last. And it does not depend on this Vatican dicastery. No one may intervene in the diocesan work under way.

Q: When, therefore, do you think the work will end?

Cardinal Saraiva Martins: This depends on the vicariate. In addition to the research the Vicariate of Rome is carrying out, there is also a rogation in Krakow. Research also began there.

The process will only reach the Congregation for Sainthood Causes when Rome's diocesan phase is finished; we cannot interfere given its seriousness.

Once this phase is finished, the whole dossier, all the documents collected, will be sent to the Holy See, to this dicastery. Then the second phase will begin, the Vatican phase.

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What the Postulator of John Paul II's Cause Faces
Interview With Monsignor Slawomir Oder

ROME, NOV. 3, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Monsignor Slawomir Oder, the postulator of Pope John Paul II's cause for beatification and canonization, admits to feeling "fear and trembling" before this responsibility.

In an interviewed with ZENIT, Monsignor Oder commented on the profound spiritual bond that unites him to the Pope, a fellow Pole, in whose shadow his vocation to the priesthood matured. He outlined the present state of the diocesan investigation of the process of beatification, which opened June 28.

Q: How are you living the responsibility of postulator of John Paul II's cause of beatification and canonization?

Monsignor Oder: I can say that without a doubt it is a venture that I live with fear and trembling in my heart because, when one is before a human and spiritual giant like John Paul II, it's enough to start trembling, above all because one notes the closeness of the grace of God that acted in this man. But also because of the responsibility before the Church, and before so many people of good will, who manifest their desire to see John Paul II beatified as soon as possible.

That is why one must move, on one hand, with great expectation in the heart, with a great sense of urgency but, on the other hand, with the awareness that the process must be carried out with the greatest seriousness, observing the procedural norms, because it is not only the _expression of a moment of enthusiasm, but truly involves the authority of the Church, which pronounces herself on a Servant of God.

Q: Are there private aspects of John Paul II's personality that are revealed in the numerous testimonies and that generally are not known?

Monsignor Oder: The documents that have arrived in this first phase of the process are generally testimonies of experiences lived by people who are almost strangers to the life of the Servant of God, who only had occasional meetings. Therefore, they are testimonies of meetings and the repercussions they have had on persons' lives.

There are also documents of persons who were closer to the Servant of God, with close ties of collaboration or friendship. However, the documentation that has arrived shows a person very much connected to the world of friends, to whom he remained very faithful. But it also shows a very attentive and sensitive personality to persons in need who turned to him and asked him for a prayer, a blessing or a remembrance in the celebration of the Eucharist.

In fact, very many people received letters in response, in which they were told that the Holy Father had been informed of their problems. Therefore, what emerges preponderantly is this aspect of care and closeness to many people.

Q: Are there testimonies of extraordinary events due to the intercession of John Paul II, recounted by Jewish and Muslim converts?
Monsignor Oder: No, I have not received testimonies of graces received by people of this type, though it must be said that testimonies of non-Christians have arrived that, in any case, express their admiration for the figure of John Paul II. Pointed out, instead, have been graces from ecclesial community groups that are not in communion with the Catholic Church.

Q: In addition to miracles of healing, in the course of John Paul II's cause of beatification will account also be taken of the -- to describe them in some way -- "social" miracles? I am thinking of John Paul II's decisive contribution to the birth of the independent labor movement Solidarity and the consequent fall of the Berlin Wall, without mentioning the other and numerous stages of recent history that bear his stamp.

Monsignor Oder: Without a doubt they are phenomena that were marked by John Paul II's presence and intervention.

Naturally, this type of phenomena will be treated differently, while, when we speak of miracle, in the technical sense, which is required as a necessary element for the process of beatification and canonization, we are speaking about a well-defined and concrete reality, from the procedural and medical point of view.

What you have mentioned as "social miracles," serve undoubtedly to demonstrate the heroism of the virtues, and also to delineate the personality in the historical and social context.

Q: Are there novelties in this cause of beatification in regard to previous ones?

Monsignor Oder: We mustn't forget that we are at the beginning of the diocesan investigation and undoubtedly the novelty we have all seen is the fact of the exemption of the five-year waiting period, before the opening of the process.

This exemption was desired by Pope Benedict XVI which included not only, I suppose, his own conviction, but also the fact that, during the conclave, many cardinals proposed the immediate opening of the process, as well as the "vox populi," which let itself be heard during the days of the funeral and cried out: "Sainthood now!"

Another novelty refers to the methodology we have adopted, in preparing this phase of the process, and the opening of a channel of communication through the Internet, but it is simply something internal to the postulator's office. In regard to the development of the process, for the time being there are no other novelties.

Q: So, we cannot even foresee the end of the process?

Monsignor Oder: No, it is impossible. It is too premature to speak of the end of the process. I can simply tell you that the diocesan phase will end when the audiences of all witnesses are concluded and all procedures have been completed.

Q: What is the first image that comes to mind when you remember him?

Monsignor Oder: Perhaps almost paradoxically, or perhaps not, maybe as conclusion of what is the natural course of a Pope's life, is the photograph of the last Good Friday, with the Pope leaning on the cross, which he holds in his arms, and with his gaze turned to the Master.
For me, truly this image is the synthesis of John Paul II's life, of the path that united him increasingly to the Master until he really appeared before our eyes as just one with the Christ he held in his arms.


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John Paul II's Last Lesson; Cryptic Warning
A Pope and the Art of Dying Well

By Elizabeth Lev

ROME, NOV. 3, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Shorter, darker days, falling leaves, the end of bird song -- it is easy to understand why during November we remember the dead. Or at least we used to.

In modern times, society prefers to either poke fun at death with macabre humor or simply paper over this unavoidable fact of human existence. For hundreds of generations however, honoring the deceased has held a place of distinction in the calendar year.

Visitors to Rome marvel at families gathering together to make a trip out to the monumental cemeteries of Verano and Prima Porta. Many are taken aback in confession to receive a penance to offer prayers for the souls in purgatory. To our contemporary eyes, it comes as a shock to see skeletons as ornamental motifs or a crypt decorated in bones. We push to the margins of consciousness the thought that these bizarre images could have meaning in our day.

And yet they do. The constant reminder of human mortality in art, culture and prayer was intended to prepare the Christian for the inevitability of death, and promote awareness of the "ars bene moriendi," the art of dying well.

When today's society asks itself about a "good death," the answer usually involves an attempt to control the end of one's life, even through physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia. The Christian notion of a good death bears a fundamental difference -- death not as a good end, but a good transition, a transition that requires proper acceptance and readiness.

Pope John Paul II, who never stopped teaching by example throughout his 26-year pontificate, left us one last great act in the demonstration of the Christian good death.

In September, the Holy See released the official account of the death and funeral of John Paul II. The first four pages clinically describe the ailments and activities of the last weeks of the Holy Father, from the first hospitalization on Feb. 1 to his final hours on April 2.

This short chronicle, while medically exact, does not do justice to the dramatic and heroic nature of those concluding months. Those of us living in Rome will always remember the Pope's urgent hospitalization and the forest of film crews clustered around the clinic. Nor will witnesses ever forget his triumphant ride through the streets of Rome as he returned to the Vatican, seemingly victorious over death itself.

This extraordinary man, who had already defied society's tendency to shun the sick by keeping up a full public schedule despite his increasingly obvious Parkinson's disease, also showed us true dignity in death.

The Pope's illness took a turn for the worse on Feb. 24, when he was re-hospitalized and the doctors performed a tracheotomy to ease his breathing. Although he again returned from the hospital, John Paul II was not as quick to recover as many had hoped.

One of the great magisterial moments of this period took place when the Pope was televised in his chapel on Good Friday watching the Via Crucis taking place in the Colosseum. During the last station, the world saw John Paul II embracing the cross with his cheek resting against the wood, and the witness of accepting suffering and death needed no words.

Those last private days, invisible to the thousands gathered in the square below, are described in the account as a time of prayer. After he was administered the anointing of the sick, the Pope concelebrated Mass every day and was constantly surrounded by people praying for him.

The document reveals that during the Mass for the feast of Divine Mercy "Polish hymns accompanied the celebration and blended with those of the young …… gathered in prayer in St. Peter's Square."

In this setting, as the Mass was offered at the foot of his bed and the faithful sang outside, John Paul II died at 9:37 p.m. on April 2, 2005.

The stories of the saints highlight the moment of death and their certainty that they are going to heaven. John Paul II's last words were "Let me go to the house of the Father." For Christians, the end of temporal life coincides with the commencement of the eternal one.

In his final days, John Paul II taught that although science can ease the physical discomfort of death, palliative care should not be used as a cloak to mask the fact of dying. Modern technology can anesthetize the dying process, but science offers no wisdom regarding how to address the reality of death itself.

Contemporary culture concentrates on the temporal aspect of the process of dying and as a result loses sight of the eternal world that waits beyond. Christians need to remember that acceptance and preparation are the keys to facing this transition. Those skeletons that so amuse tourists serve as a stern warning: "Hodie mihi, cras tibi" -- Today death strikes me, tomorrow it will be you.

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On John Paul II's Cause for Beatification

Interview With the Postulator, Monsignor Oder Slawomir

ROME, JULY 19, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The cries of "Santo subito" -- Sainthood now! -- heard at Pope John Paul II's funeral were heard again June 28 when his cause for beatification officially opened in Rome.

In this interview with the newspaper Avvenire, the postulator of the cause, Monsignor Oder Slawomir of Poland, talks about some details of the process of beatification.

Q: What material has been gathered in John Paul II's cause for beatification?

Monsignor Slawomir: First of all, we must recall that it is a process that is following a very particular course -- because of Benedict XVI's early decision to open the cause for beatification, and because of the fact that it has to do with a Pontiff.

For this latter reason, all the magisterial writings elaborated during his pontificate are not part of the process. We have gathered all of the texts Karol Wojtyla wrote before his election as Pope, and the non-magisterial documents of his pontificate, in practice, five books.

Q: Are there no other documents from the years of his pontificate?

Monsignor Slawomir: We must see if there is anything left in John Paul II's personal files.

Let's not forget that in his testament, of which Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz is executor, he stated that his notes should be destroyed. If there is anything left, it should be consigned to the diocesan tribunal and examined by the Historical Commission of the Vicariate of Rome.

Q: How many testimonies have been collected?

Monsignor Slawomir: We have prepared a list of 100 people. It is still a provisional list, and in the course of the process others may be included. Individuals have been chosen who can testify about John Paul II's life at different stages, about his life, virtue and reputation for holiness.

Q: What are the first steps of the process?

Monsignor Slawomir: The college of censor theologians must be appointed, whose task is to examine the writings collected and see if they are in conformity with doctrine. The hearings of witnesses must begin, who come from all over the world.

Q: Can you predict how long this process will last?

Monsignor Slawomir: For the time being, it's absolutely impossible to predict its duration.

The material to be studied is enormous, and a decision must still be made about what juridical technique will be followed for the collection of testimonies; if all of them will or will not be heard; if the tribunal will go to each country to interview the witnesses; if a request process will be opened in the places where each of them lives, or if the collaboration will be requested of the tribunals of the dioceses where they live.

Because of all this, one could say that it will all begin in the fall. Nothing other than this can be said at this time.

Q: There are those who say that this process will end directly in the Pope's canonization.

Monsignor Slawomir: For the time being, I can only say that it is a pious wish. The technical work can be considered as normal, in short.

Of course, the ultimate competence in this matter is the Holy Father's, and he can decide what he wishes.

Q: There are others who say that there are already documented miracles. Is this true?

Monsignor Slawomir: Above all, it must be said that the competence on the recognition of a miracle belongs to the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, not the diocesan tribunal.

Our investigation must gather different signs and, in fact, many have arrived, including by e-mail, with their corresponding documentation. However, I can say that, for the time being, there are no proceedings open on any miracle.

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Official prayer for intercession of JPII

 The Diocese of Rome, in charge of promoting the beatification of late Pope John Paul II, released an official prayer in different languages, to implore favors through the intercession of the Pontiff.
 

The text of the prayer reads:

"O Blessed Trinity, we thank you for having graced the church with Pope John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your fatherly care, the glory of the cross of Christ, and the splendor of the Holy Spirit, to shine through him.

"Trusting fully in your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you.

"Grant us, by his intercession, and according to your will, the graces we implore, hoping that he will soon be numbered among your saints. Amen."

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Web Page for John Paul II's Cause Is Busy

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 27, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The official Web page of Pope John Paul II's cause for beatification received 22,000 visits and more than 1,000 e-mail messages in its first week.

The cause for beatification begins solemnly this Tuesday in Rome.

Monsignor Slawomir Oder, postulator of the cause, explained that the Web site "already has different sections in several languages, which will gradually be completed, to give visitors worldwide the possibility to follow directly the development of the cause for beatification."

The Web page www.JohnPaulIIBeatification.org is sponsored by the Diocese of Rome.

The solemn "Opening Session of the Diocesan Inquiry into the Life, Virtues and Reputation of Sanctity of the Servant of God John Paul II" will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

"Shortly afterward, the site will offer ample information on the event, with photographic and documentary material," Monsignor Oder said.

Within the next few days the Web site will post some testimonies of the faithful about graces received and personal meetings with John Paul II, as well as information on prayer meetings held in support of the cause, the monsignor indicated.

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Novena through John Paul II for Sydney baby

A Sydney family has begun a novena through the intercession of Pope John Paul II for their chronically ill young boy.

The Catholic Weekly reports that baby Jackson Wright has spent much of his life in hospital and has just spent his first birthday in Westmead Children's Hospital suffering pneumonia and a partial collapsed lung.

He and his twin sister Luca were born three months prematurely on 1 July 1 last year to parents Peta and Matthew Wright of Wollongong.

While Luca has progressed well, her brother is still developmentally delayed, requires oxygen due to chronic lung disease and has pulmonary hypertension, even apart from his latest setback.

"This winter has not been good for Jack," his grandmother Maureen Wright told the Weekly.

Maureen, a parishioner at St Francis Xavier's Church, Lurnea, organised the novena among family, friends and other parishioners at Lurnea.

"God may want to use the healing of Jack as a way of promoting the cause for the sainthood of the late Pope," she says.

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