Seven years after death, John Paul II’s popularity grows

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08:12 AM April 3rd, 2012

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April 3rd, 2012 08:12 AM

VATICAN CITY—Seven years after his death, evidence is mounting of the late pope John Paul II’s saintliness, the man charged with promoting his claim to sainthood said Monday.

A Polish pilgrim holds a flag bearing an image of the late Pope John Paul II while attending a mass of thanksgiving led by Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone in Saint Peter's Square in the Vatican on May 2, 2011. AFP FILE PHOTO

John Paul’s tomb has been constantly visited and relics linked to the former pope had drawn crowds of pilgrims in three continents, Slawomir Oder told Vatican Radio.

It had started with the presence of these relics, vials of his blood, during the World Youth Day in Madrid in August 2011 and had continued with their presence in Mexico, Colombia and currently in Nigeria, he said.

The crowds these relics were attracting reflected the nature of John Paul’s activities during his life, said Oder, “…the international dimension of his ministry.

“We are waiting for the sign from God to be able to go forward with the process of canonisation: this sign is a new miracle,” he added.

Karol Wojtyla, the Polish priest who became John Paul II, died on April 2, 2005, and was beatified on May 1, 2011 — an intermediary stage on the path to sainthood.

His relatively rapid beatification reflects his tremendous popularity during his life and the widespread desire among the faithful for him to be recognised as a saint.

For this to happen, three miracles have to be recognised by the Vatican as attributable to him.

To be officially certified as a miracle by the Roman Catholic Church, healings have to be instantaneous, irreversible and without scientific explanation.

The first miracle attributed to the late pope was the healing of a French nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, who recovered from Parkinson’s disease.

“At the current time, numerous signs of grace attributed to the intercession of the blessed John Paul II have come to me from numerous regions of the world, and some of them are certainly interesting,” said Oder.

He added that he was waiting for documentation so he could carry out a proper study of these cases, but would not elaborate on what claims he was investigating.

Oder, as John Paul’s postulator — the official advocate of the case for his canonisation — has the role of promoting the late pope’s claim to sainthood and had already put his case in a book, “Why he is a Saint”.

John Paul II’s historic papacy helped bring down communist rule in his native Poland and reinvigorated the Church, but he was criticized for his conservative social views and for failing to act against paedophile priests.

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