Archive for the ‘Pope John Paul II’ Category

John Paul II to be “beatified within months”?

November 2, 2009

That’s a grabber of a headline — at least for fans of the late, great Pope.  But it’s a real one and just up today, on the website of the London Telegraph.  I have to say, I’m a bit skeptical. 

The claim that JP2 will beatified “by 2010” was put forward recently by the Mayor of Rome, in public statements made while on a visit to Krakow. 

First of all, he is not exactly a high-ranking Vatican official … or a Vatican official of any kind, for that matter.  Secondly, we’re already into November, which means a beatification by 2010 would need to take place in the next 8 weeks or so.  And I have a feeling that when the beatification of John Paul II actually does happen, it will be an event of massive proporations that will take months, even a year, of planning and preparation.

This does raise the interesting question of where it will happen.  Almost all beatifications in the B16 pontificate have taken place in the homeland of the new blessed, presided over by the local bishop or the head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.  Will JP2’s be in Poland?  On the other hand, he was the Bishop of Rome and “belonged” to the Universal Church for over a quarter of a century.  Does that, plus the added element of the level of global interest even outside the Church, mean it could be held in Rome? Presided over by the Pope himself?  Not difficult to imagine happening.


John Paul II cause takes a step

July 1, 2009

Yesterday, in a meeting at the Vatican, a group of theologian consultors for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints made a positive judgment about the heroic virtues of John Paul II, based on a report submitted to them.  This clears the way for a judgment to be made by the bishop and cardinal members of the Congregation.  They’re the ones whose positive judgment really counts, whose recognition of his heroic virtues would allow John Paul II to have the title “Servant of God,” with the next step being beatification.  A miracle attributed to his intercession would be necessary for that to happen.

As of 9:00 this morning, this is not being covered in English yet.   It’s reported today by the respected Vatican journalist Andrea Tornielli at Il Giornale‘s website.

Also on the JP2 cause, be sure to check out my post “Karol and Wanda: A Primer.”

Karol and Wanda: A Primer

June 21, 2009

There has been a lot of coverage and, seemingly, hand-wringing over the issue of Dr. Wanda Poltawska and her letters to and from Pope John Paul II, with talk of how they will slow down the progress of the Pope’s cause for beatification/canonization.  Here are the basics of the issue.

So who’s Wanda? Dr. Wanda Poltawska, now 87, is a Polish psychiatrist who was a friend of Karol Wojtyla forwanda more than half a century.  She was married and has four daughters.  

(Some articles are calling her a “sex psychiatrist.”  That’s probably a pretty anachronistic term and no doubt intentionally sensationalistic.  Probably “family therapist” or “marriage therapist” would be better.)

How did she get to know JP2?  During World War II, Poltawska was arrested by the Nazis at age 19 for her involvement in the Polish resistance movement.  She was imprisoned in the Ravensbrueck concentration camp, tortured, and used in ghastly medical experiments.  Following that terrible experience, she sought out a priest for some spiritual guidance to help her through the trauma.  She found Fr. Wojtyla.  He became friends with her, as well as with her husband and children.  (He was 2 years older than her.)

Their relationship?  Close friends, it seems.  (See Cardinal Dziwisz’s opinion below for the only reason I add “it seems.”)  Wojtyla was a frequent visitor to their home, and he went on family vacations with them.  After he was elected Pope , she and her family visited him annually at the Pope’s summer residence.  She was allowed to visit his hospital room after the 1981 assassination attempt.  She also allowed at his bedside (with a roomful of other people, of course) when he died.  He signed his letters to her “Br,” short for brat (“brother” in Polish). 

Apparently during the 1960’s, in fact, when she was diagonosed with cancer, a distressed Wojtyla wrote to Padre Pio asking for his prayers for her.  The cancer was soon cured.  (And JP2 canonized Pio in 2002.)

She speaks of him today (here) with great admiration and respect:

“He loved all people and wanted to save all,” she said. “He had nothing: no car, no TV, no phone, nothing. Just a backpack and his prayer book.”

To her, Wojtyla was a “paragon of modesty, poverty and sainthood.”

There’s a book involved?  Yes, Dr. Poltawska has recently published The Beskidy Mountains Recollections (English translation of the Polish title).  The Associated Press describes the book

The 570-page book recalls annual family vacations with Wojtyla before he became pope in the Beskidy Mountains, trips that were filled with praying and religious discussions. It includes pictures of her family with the pope at the Vatican and vacationing in Castel Gandolfo, the papal holiday residence outside Rome.

It includes her diary entries from trips she took after he was elected pope to the places where they had vacationed, where she reminisces with great longing about their times together. She writes detailed descriptions of the places for the pope, who, ensconced in the Vatican, would write to her of how much he missed the mountains and rivers.

And it contains letters back to Poltawska, including one in which John Paul said he believed God had given her to him as his project, considering her difficult personality and her haunting Ravensbrueck past.

Amazon notes another book she published, And I Am Afraid of My Dreams, over two decades ago.  It seems she has written more, too (one article refers to “several books about children”), but I suspect if it hasn’t been translated from the Polish, it won’t be on Amazon.

Something scandalous going on?  No.  There is no one who is suggesting that the relationship between Karol Wojtyla and Wanda Poltawska was inappropriate, romantic, or sexual in nature.  Her husband was also a close friend of Wojtyla.

So what’s the big deal?  Ya got me.

Why is she being criticized?  Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz has publicly criticized her for publishing the letters and for exaggerating the relationship.  (Dziwisz served John Paul II for many decades as his private secretary, long before he even become pope.)  He comments in one interview: “That was his [John Paul II’s] secret: to make all those who were dear to him feel like they had a special relationship with him.  The difference is that Ms. Poltawska exaggerates in her attitude, and the expressions and display of her behavior are inappropriate and out of place.”  

This is could be true, is certainly believable, and Dziwisz, if anyone, is in a position to say.  Then again, the woman was allowed access to the guy at his deathbed.  And several other people whose take on the issue carry great weight have contradicted Dziwisz.

Poltawska has also been criticized by Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, recently retired head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, who says she should have turned the letters in to the Vatican as part of their JP2 sainthood investigation.

God’s grace at work

April 7, 2009

After a couple of months haitus, I was able to get back into my regular talks with Brian Patrick, on Sacred Heart Radio’s Son Rise Morning Show this morning.  The topic of our monthly visit is ongoing causes of people who may one day be recognized as saints by the Catholic Church.

The biggest deal in this department these days is Pope John Paul II.  The fourth anniversary of his death last Thursdaywas marked by much speculation about the possibility of this great Pope’s beatification one year from now.  And it wasn’t just anyone who was speculating.  Pope Benedict XVI, who marked the anniversary with a special Mass at the Vatican, said he is praying for John Paul’s beatification (which, let’s face it, is sort of like my wife saying she hopes we’ll be having tortellini for dinner some time this week, as she sits making our grocery list). 

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwicz, once Pope John Paul’s personal secretary of many decades and now the Archbishop of Krakow, did not hesitate to talk about the possibility publicly — or to talk about the reported miracle that happened at the Pope’s tomb last week!  (And that wasn’t the only JP2-related healing in the news.  Thanks to Sacred Heart’s Matt Swain for pointing this one out to me.)

Brian and I also talked about the opening of a new cause for beatification/canonization that happened in Spain recently.  Rebecca Rocamora Naadal died only 13 years ago, in 1996, at the age of 20.  She didn’t die for her faith or work any dramatic miracles during her life — she simply lived out her faith vibrantly, even heroically, and even when doing it was hard.  Rebecca had survived a brain tumor during her childhood, reportedly through the intercession of Mary.  But her teen years were normal and full of life and beauty.  She led her parish youth group and was involved in preparing kids for the first Communions.  When she was 20, she was diagnosed with cancer again, and this time it took her quickly.  It was her faith and fortitude in this situation which really gave testimony to her sanctity. 

Her fame has spread quickly in the few years since her death.  Announcing the opening of her cause last month was a major event in the diocese. 

Finally, we discussed the new list of up-and-comings just released by the Vatican a few days ago.  One approved miracle was attributed to the intercession of the Italian Giuseppina de Micheli (known in religious life as Sr. Maria Pierina).  That means her next step is beatification.  Giuseppina is known in Italy for fostering devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus.  She died in 1945.

In addition to that, the Vatican listed ten people whom the Pope had formally recognized as having led lives of heroic virtue.  Particularly notable among them is Sr. Irma Dulce, a Brazilian sister who died only 17 years ago.  Her Wikipedia entry reports that she is one of the most admired women in the history of Brazil today, and that she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, because of her care for the poor, before her death. 

The list also includes a lay Italian man, Giacomo Gaglioni, and a lay French woman, Benoite Rencurel, who reportedly experienced apparitions of Mary for half a century.

So much evidence of the work of the Spirit, the work of grace, in the Church!  Thanks be to God.

More on John Paul II

April 4, 2009

Catholic News Services’ article this week was titled “For Pope John Paul II, beatification process may be on final lap.” 

A clip:

Cardinal Dziwisz, in Rome for the fourth anniversary, told reporters that a presumed miracle had recently occurred at Pope John Paul II’s tomb in St. Peter’s Basilica.

A nine year-old Polish boy from Gdansk, suffering from cancer of the kidneys and unable to walk, was brought to the tomb by his parents, Cardinal Dziwisz said. When they left St. Peter’s, the boy told them, “I want to walk,” and began walking in good health, he said.

Vatican officials are not publicizing what are said to be 251 “inexplicable” healings or other events attributed to Pope John Paul II’s intercession, and which have been filed away. Like Archbishop Amato, the officials emphasize the seriousness of the study being undertaken and insist there are no foregone conclusions.

4 years on

April 2, 2009

pope_john_paul_ii_in_prayer1Today is the fourth anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II.  Will the beatification be a year from today?

Pope Benedict XVI celebrated a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to mark the anniversary.

Fr. Thomas Williams, LC, offers an excellent essay on John Paul II, focusing on how the theological virtue of hope was active in his life, at the First Things blog today.

Approved Prayer for the intercession of Pope John Paul II

O Holy Trinity,
we thank you for having given to the Church
Pope John Paul II,
and for having made him shine with your fatherly tenderness,
the glory of the Cross of Christ and the splendour of the Spirit of love.

He, trusting completely in your infinite mercy
and in the maternal intercession of Mary, has shown himself
in the likeness of Jesus the Good Shepherd
and has pointed out to us holiness
as the path to reach eternal communion with You.Grant us, through his intercession,
according to your will, the grace that we implore,
in the hope that he will soon be numbered among your saints.

Blessed John Paul II next year?

March 19, 2009

.- Pope John Paul II could be beatified on April 2, 2010, exactly five years after his death, according to a report in the Polish newspaper Dziennik, which claims the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints has already made the decision. 

At the beginning of this month, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow said the beatification process of Pope John Paul II was about to be concluded and that Benedict XVI himself wanted to close the process “as soon as possible” because that “is what the world is asking for.”

The beatification process of John Paul II began on June 28, 2005, two months after the death of the Pontiff thanks to a dispensation granted by Pope Benedict. The dispensation waived the normal five-year waiting period after a person dies that the Church requires before a cause for canonization can be opened.

October 16, 1978…

October 16, 2008

thirty years ago today, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was elected Bishop of Rome and took the name Pope John Paul II.  It was a bit breath-taking even at the moment it happened, and he kept both the world and the Church on its toes for the next 27 years! 

We didn’t deserve him, and if we ever live up to the heights to which he called us, the world will be a much better place.

John Paul II, pray for us.

A papal visit to the land of Bakhita?

September 20, 2008

Rocco at Whispers in the Loggia just pointed out yesterday a bit of news from a couple of months ago that I had missed at the time.  It seems that Pope Benedict XVI, while attending World Youth Day celebrations in Australia this past July, told a young woman from Darfur in Sudan: “Yours is the country I most want to visit.”

This is not surprsing and particularly relevant to readers of the Pope’s 2007 encyclical Spe Salvi, on Christian hope.   In the beautiful document, the Pope chose to highlight the life and witness of St. Josephine Bakhita (1869-1947), a native of Darfur.  Since he certainly had hundreds of extraordinary saints to pick from as illustrations of what hope looks like when it is lived out heroically, it’s surely no coincidence that he picked a woman from this tragically troubled region. 

Benedict would not be the first pope to visit Sudan. Pope John Paul II traveled there in 1993, less than a year after he beatified Bakhita.  At a special Mass celebrated to honor her in the capital city of Khartoum, he preached:

Her Beatification was an act of respect not only for her but also for the Sudan, since a daughter of this land was put forward as a hero of mercy and of goodwill…. The immense suffering of millions of innocent victims impels me to voice my solidarity with the weak and defenceless who cry out to God for help, for justice, for respect for their God–given dignity as human beings, for their basic human rights, for the freedom to believe and practise their faith without fear or discrimination…. Today, in the Sudan, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, repeats these words and encourages you to stand firm and to take heart. The Lord is close to you. He will never leave you alone. The whole Church understands your distress and prays for you.

That was more than 15 years ago, and still the violations of human rights in Sudan continues on a large scale, in some ways that are new and more intense since that time.  Another papal visit would surely be an important event. 

In the meantime,  consider offering some concrete support to the beleaguered people of Darfur through Catholic Relief Services.  (In my classroom, I show my high school juniors this video (in 3 parts, of about 7 minutes each) produced by 3 college students who visited Darfur.  There is also actually an online “game” called Darfur is Dying that has been designed to help people understand the experience of people there.  I know, it sounds crass at first, but I think it’s an effective tool for young people, who tend not to pay attention to anything that’s not online.  Finally, you’ll find a novena to St. Josephine Bakhita in my book Saints for Our Times: New Novenas and Prayers.)

St. Josephine Bakhita, witness of hope, pray for the people of Darfur!

The ‘Theology of the Body’ talks that didn’t get given

August 21, 2008

This is exciting.  A new book by Christopher West — who has already masterfully presented the Theology of the Body to readers in this and this — called Heaven’s Song: Sexual Love as It Was Meant to Be.

The publisher’s description starts out like this: “Journey with Christopher West into the “hidden” talks of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body—only recently discovered in the archives in Rome—and find out why the Pope himself deemed them “too delicate” to be delivered in St. Peter’s Square.”

Now that’s a teaser!  I’ll be looking forward to it.