Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008

Pope John Paul II, aka Karol Wojtyla

Dates: 1920-2005
Status of Cause: Venerable (step before beatification)
Prognosis: Splendid

At John Paul's funeral a cry went up, "Santo Subito!" (Saint now!) His successor, Benedict XVI, accommodated by making the Polish pontiff's cause the second in modern memory (after Mother Teresa's) to commence immediately after death. In 2006, the Diocese of Aix-en-Provence began investigating the overnight recovery from Parkinsons' disease of a nun in Puyricard, France: Shortly after John Paul's death with the same ailment, she had written his name on a slip of paper and asked her community to pray for her. In March, the Vatican announced that the diocesan investigation has been completed, and it has now been handed over to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and is likely to become John Paul II's first Vatican-verified miracle. His cause is actually more controversial than Teresa's. "When you're pope," says Fr. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of My Life with the Saints, "you're bound to make some decisions nobody agrees with. But no-one doubts his personal piety." Nor his role as one of the great figures of the 20th century; his canonization should occur within a few years.

David Van Biema