Campaign for John Paul sainthood reaches landmark. By Philip Pullella


VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – April 2, 2007. The campaign to make Pope John Paul a saint reached a landmark on Monday as promoters offered proof of a purported miracle and a cardinal suggested it should be speeded up because there was no doubt of his s

At a ceremony including solemn oaths and centuries-old sacred rituals on the second anniversary of his death, officials formally concluded the first phase of a probe into his holiness. The Rome diocese gave the Vatican tens of thousands of pages of documents and transcripts which propose that John Paul should be beatified, the last step before sainthood. Two years is an unusually short time for the completion of the first phase of a sainthood cause, which can usually take decades or, in some cases, hundreds of years. The evidence gathered and handed over at the ceremony at Rome`s Basilica of St John includes testimony from some 130 people as well as scrutiny of his life, spoken words and writings. Three black leather trunks were sealed with ribbon and hot red wax as Church officials and thousands of faithful applauded. They include documentation on the case of Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, a 46-year-old French nun diagnosed with Parkinson`s -- the same disease that the late Pope had -- until she said it inexplicably disappeared two months after his death. Simon-Pierre, who worked as a maternity ward supervisor in Aix-En-Provence, could be central to the case since the Church demands proof of a medically unexplained healing before a candidate can be beatified. She attended Monday`s ceremony. The documentation prepared by the Rome and Krakow dioceses (where he was archbishop) will now be opened and reviewed by the Vatican`s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. If the Vatican rules the cure of Simon-Pierre was a miracle, another would be required before sainthood is bestowed. MANY SAY POPE ALREADY SAINT Many Catholics are convinced of John Paul`s sanctity, a belief stressed by the late pope`s former secretary in a mass just after dawn at the pope`s crypt in St Peter`s Basilica. "The faith of the people of God clearly recognizes his sanctity," said Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who in the past has suggested that Pope Benedict should skip the beatification stage for his predecessor and move directly to sainthood. "John Paul II was a member of the friends of Jesus, that is, the group of saints," Dziwisz said. Crowds at John Paul`s funeral in April 2005 chanted "Santo Subito" ("Make him a saint now"). "I think he should be made a saint as soon as possible because he gave the Polish people everything we could ask for," said Antoni Krokowicz, 20, who traveled from Poland for the ceremonies. "He was a great man." In May, 2005, Pope Benedict put John Paul on the fast track by dispensing with Church rules that normally impose a five-year waiting period after a candidate`s death before the procedure that leads to sainthood can even start. On Monday afternoon Pope Benedict will say a Mass in the Vatican commemorating John Paul and may hint of whether he is considering any other dispensations. At a news conference on Friday in France, the nun spoke glowingly of the late Polish Pontiff as an inspiration because of his very public suffering from Parkinson`s. "My healing was the work of God through the intercession of John Paul," she said.

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