Monday, 12 March 2007

Pope John Paul II on the way to canonization

The diocese of Rome has completed its examination of the life and virtues of Pope John Paul II in the first step of the process towards canonisation of the late pontiff.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, Vicar General for the diocese, announced on Saturday that the important investigation had been concluded and will be marked by a ceremony at Rome's Cathedral, the Basilica of St John Lateran early next month, the Catholic News Agency reports.

Whereas all popes serve as the Bishop of Rome, the study of John Paul II's life began both there and in Poland, where the young Karol Wojtyla grew up and served as a priest and bishop before being elected Pope.

In January, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the late Pope's longtime secretary and current Archbishop of Krakow announced that the Polish investigation was nearly complete.

Cardinal Ruini emphasised that diocesan officials investigated "the life, virtues and reputation for holiness" of the late Pope. During the diocesan inquiry, church officials interviewed those who knew the Pope and examined documentation.

Although the conclusions of diocesan investigations are only one step, they are an important one on the way to the Pope's eventual beatification and canonisation as a saint, Catholic News Agency says.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints must now conduct a similar investigation and verify miracles attributed to the intercession of Pope John Paul II.

Shortly after John Paul's death, with scores of faithful clamouring for quick canonisation, Pope Benedict XVI, the Pontiff's successor, waived the customary five-year waiting period to open the case for possible sainthood.

According to the Associated Press, Pope Benedict will also preside at a 2 April Mass in memory of John Paul in St Peter's Basilica. The date marks the 2nd anniversary of Pope John Paul's death.