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July 2nd, 2013
02:55 PM ET

Vatican: Pope John Paul II close to sainthood

By Hada Messia and Brian Todd, CNN

Rome (CNN) - The Catholic Church is on the verge of declaring late Pope John Paul II a saint, a Vatican source familiar with the process told CNN on Tuesday.

The committee that considers candidates for sainthood voted Tuesday to credit the late pope with a second miracle, the source said, asking not to be named discussing internal Vatican deliberations.

It is not clear which of several miracles under consideration would be credited to the late pope. Pope Francis must now sign off on the decision before it is official.

John Paul was pope from 1978 until his death in 2005, and was essentially the first rock star pontiff – drawing vast crowds as he criss-crossed the globe.

At his funeral, thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square chanted "Santo Subito" - Sainthood Now!

The Polish-born pope was fast-tracked to beatification when he died in 2005, and became "the blessed" John Paul II barely six years after his death - the fastest beatification in centuries.

"For an institution that typically thinks in centuries, this is remarkably quick," said CNN Vatican analyst John Allen.

There are essentially three steps to becoming a Catholic saint after death.

First, the title "venerable" is formally given by the pope to someone judged to have exhibited "heroic virtues." Secondly, a miracle must be attributed to the deceased person's intervention. Canonization – or sainthood – requires a second attributed miracle.

In 2010, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI approved John Paul's first reported miracle: a French nun cured of Parkinson's disease.

Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, a nun whose order prayed to the pope after he died, said she was cured of the disease, an ailment that also afflicted John Paul.

The second miracle reportedly occurred in Costa Rica, where a woman said she recovered from a severe brain injury thanks to the intervention of John Paul, Vatican sources told Allen.

Patrick Kelly, executive director of the Blessed John Paul II Shrine in Washington, explained the church's process for investigating reported miracles.

"A team of doctors first examine the miracle. Secondly, the team of theologians look at the miracles and then they discuss amongst themselves the legitimacy and all the facts surrounding the miracles," he said.

The record for the fastest canonization is modern times is St. Jose-Maria Escriva, the Spanish-born founder of Opus Dei, a Catholic order of laypeople and saints dedicated to finding God in daily life. Escriva was made a saint 27 years after his death.

John Paul could shatter that record.

But there are critics who say, not so fast on canonization.

Despite being beloved, John Paul didn't live up to expectations at a crucial moment in the church's history, as sexual abuse scandals involving thousands of Catholic priests erupted across the world, critics say.

In the United States alone, nearly 17,000 people have come forward with abuse claims and the church has paid $2.6 billion in settlements, therapy bills, lawyers fees and expenses related to removing priests from ministry, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Eight American dioceses have declared bankruptcy as a result of sexual abuse claims against its priests.

"The rap against John Paul in terms of the sex abuse scandals is basically that this stuff metasticized during his papacy - and he didn't respond adequately to it," said Allen.

Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl defended the late pope, saying "his ministry was so clearly a ministry for everyone."

"Now when you're presiding over a worldwide church with over a billion members, surely there are going to be things that happen over which you don't have a lot of control - or maybe no control," Wuerl said.

In any case, the cardinal and other Catholic leaders say the measure of a saint is not the list of accomplishments or setbacks – but how holy the person was.

CNN's Daniel Burke contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (685 Responses)
  1. Nihlism

    The harder you think about anything the more you wonder why anybody does anything. From sainthood to award ceremonies, from fashion to comemoration. Really, why?

    You can savor chocolate or you can swallow it whole and in a hurry.

    With this you are either thrilled, disapointed or it's irrelevant.

    July 2, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
  2. Fred Max

    Do Popes have a quota of pedophile instances to prove that they are good guys? The absurdity that a Cardinal who leaks information at the Conclave will be excommunicated while a Cardinal who hides pedophile priests is welcome in the Conclave and likely to be promoted seems beyond rational explanation.

    July 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • a reasonable atheist

      There's a rational explanation, but it is an ugly one.

      July 3, 2013 at 12:19 am |
  3. EbonyDelite

    The Vatican has to do something to deflect attention away from the criminal conduct of the Catholic Church! Why don't people simply research the history of the church and read for themselves that their teachings and dogma is just made up crap to enslave the masses! Think more... follow less!

    July 2, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
  4. Dick Delson

    I'm Jewish and I think this man was fabulous. He deserves Sainthood. Everyone loved this man

    July 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • Shelly

      I didn't. He was the leader of the biggest ring of child molesters on the planet. There is no way he didn't know about it. He covered it up, just like all the others before him. They all belong in prison.

      July 2, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      So the guy that did nothing with regards to protecting children is a saint? Well in the Catholic church that doesn't surprise me..

      July 2, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • Lycidas

      No way he didn't know anything about it?
      Do we now throw accusations around without evidence? When did you all become Tea Party members?

      July 2, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Lycidas; You're correct that we don't know what he knew or not. But many bad things happened under his watch and for that alone he isn't a saint. Anyhow, why do Catholics need saints? I guess worshiping Jesus isn't enough for Catholics.

      July 2, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • Olaf Big

      I personally don't care whether he gets sainthood, or the cutest ears after 80 prize, but from purely practicaly point of view Catholic church should not rush the canonization. The guy has not been dead long enough. What if something embarassing shows up in his not-so-distant earthly past, and there is a living witness to tell the world about it? Never underestimate what can be buried in the archives of the former Polish secret police or their Russian mentors and handlers. Would not it be too much for the already battered reputation of the Church?

      July 2, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • Lycidas

      jazzguitarman- "But many bad things happened under his watch and for that alone he isn't a saint."

      I'll leave the Catholics to decide their saints but I try to keep in mind that being Pope is not the same as being President or Prime Minister. The heirarchy of the RCC is very old and was never designed to have oversight in the way we are used to with our govts.
      It would be nice if the RCC would improve how it does the administration aspect of their existence and perhaps they will in the future. The current Pope seems open to change and hopefully that will be an ongoing trend.

      July 2, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • alanh79

      I agree. I'm a Protestant, and I really admired JP 2.

      When he went to the prison and forgave the guy who shot him, he was walking the walk. Most religious leaders only talk the talk.

      July 2, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • David

      I didn't live him, and I don't know anyone who did. Dick, are you 14 yrs old and well endowed? No wonder you are enamored and probably a priest favorite boy toy.

      July 2, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • DJ

      I am part of everybody, and I did not love this man... so not everybody loved him.

      July 2, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • MC

      "No way he didn't know anything about it?"

      Uh, it was public knowledge in his later years, half-wit. And known to the Vatican long before that.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Lycidas; So far I'm impressed by the new pope (and I'm agnostic and so is my wife but she is from Italy so all the in-laws are Catholic). But I wasn't impressed by the prior two.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • MC

      "I'll leave the Catholics to decide their saints but I try to keep in mind that being Pope is not the same as being President or Prime Minister"

      You're an idiot. You're right it's not the same: the Pope has a lot more power. He is essentially a dictator. A lot of stuff gets decided by this or that committee, because the Pope wants it that way, but there is literally nothing a Pope can't do within the Church.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • ram

      Umm no. Many didn't love him and many didn't like him at all.

      July 2, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
  5. ALLuh

    Hahahahahahahaha, stupid Catholics and their make believe Tom Foolery, pretty dang funny.

    July 2, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • Shelly

      Amen to that!

      July 2, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
  6. jkeller

    For the record, the Catholic Church does not "make" saints, as if John Paul II is just sitting somewhere, waiting for his turn. The Church recognizes them based on miracles attributed to them, which is a more rigorous process than what CNN is presenting. The people who verify these miracles aren't necessarily Catholics – they are physicians, scientists, etc. who assist in the process. Based on their professional findings, the Church makes a decision. We recognize saints and martyrs because we Christians desire to follow Christ as best we can and these saints – although not perfect in their earthly life – were an example for this.

    July 2, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      The RCC does make saints supposedly based upon miracles attributed to them; where is your evidence that "The people who verify these miracles aren't necessarily Catholics – they are physicians, scientists, etc. who assist in the process." How would they verify a miracle? And how would they assign praise (surely god did it!).

      July 2, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Sound too much like false prophets to me.

      July 2, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • fjm

      Catholics are stupid. I was raised Catholic. He was a good person who overlooked much going on under his watch. So now he is a saint? LOL!!!! The old "My imaginary friend is more real than your imaginary friend." Religion is for those too weak to deal w/the realities of life. Get a life....

      July 2, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • just a question

      I'm curious, if these miracles are proven by doctors and scientists how did these not make world headlines? Especially when someone claims that they were cured of an incurable disease like Parkinson's. I think that would have made the mainstream news. "We've found a cure for Parkinson's, it's the Pope!"

      July 2, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • pete

      i'm sorry, but you can't honestly believe that science can confirm a supposed miracle. that is utter nonsense. believe it's a miracle if you want, it's your right to have faith....but don't try to convince people that science supports this

      July 2, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • Olaf Big

      Right... and, of course, the process has nothing to do with Church politics, just pure sterling miracles evidenced by people of pure sterling reputation for truth....

      July 2, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • jkeller

      If someone with end-stage renal disease suddenly had no evidence of it, that would be a miracle. Do you think the Catholic Church invented the word? Look it up.

      July 2, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • David

      Sure. You go on a follow that BS. His becoming a saint is purely political.

      July 2, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Jkeller; A miracle implies some type of higher power was involved. If someone that had cancer was cured of said cancer I wouldn't call that a miracle. Instead I would assume that either the initial diagnosis of cancer was incorrect or that the person was cured by some non standard means; e.g. eating veggies had an impact on that person that it doesn't for 99.9% of others.

      To me it is folly to assume there are miracle.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • a reasonable atheist

      In order for a miracle to be "scientifically confirmed" (a bit of a silly statement in and of itself since all scientific conclusions remain open to future scrutiny by definition), science would have to have an agreed-upon way to link an observation (such as curing Parkinson's) causally to god. Science doesn't even attempt to define god, much less a causal link between occurrences and god. As such, there is no scientific way to "verify the miraculous."

      More than likely, any scientists or physicians involved in the process reported inconclusive evidence which was twisted by the clergy and a healthy dose of confirmation bias into "no natural cause = miracle."

      July 3, 2013 at 12:32 am |
  7. Ryan

    The whole idea of saints is so medeval. If the catholic church wants to do this, then let them. Makes no difference to anyone who has the slightest grasp of reality.

    July 2, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • ALLuh

      no kidding! what a joke!

      July 2, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • pete

      hear hear!

      July 2, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
  8. joe

    So,,,,,We can now pray to alternative beings such as the late Pope? If so,then the Bible is a lie.You don't need to pray to God just pray to someone who Jesus said is asleep?That's sorta of like praying to Mary now.Even though she is dead and also asleep ,can intercede on behalf of all humanity and tell God we are ok to let in even if Jesus says no!Where is that in the Bible??Can you back it up?

    July 2, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • a reasonable atheist

      All of the saints have the exact same intercession record as god. Of course, Joe Pesci has a better intercession record than any saint or god – ask George Carlin. Perhaps Joe Pesci should be canonized?

      July 3, 2013 at 12:35 am |
  9. brian

    Wonder when they will make the Austrian Cardinal Innitzer a saint. As a priest he promoted the Nazi Party during the Anschluss in 1938. As a reward, the Church promoted him to Cardinal when the war ended in 1945.

    July 2, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
  10. Truthis

    It does not say much for humanity that we cling to ridiculous rituals and myths. The catholic church is the wealthiesr side show on earth. I gag.

    July 2, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • jkeller

      Wealthier sideshow? Are you kidding me? Do some fact checking about the financial side of things at the Vatican. The Catholic Church gives more to the poor than any other organization on earth (not just financial) and its operating budget is paltry, at best.

      July 2, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      jkeller, The RCC is one of the wealthiest organizations on earth – what do think it costs to build and furnish your own city? The pope has a retreat, the RCC owns much more land and has vast investments including art, antiques, etc.

      July 2, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      In Santa (love the nick BTW); At least it appears the new pope understands that the church needs to share more of the wealth and cut down on spending needless spending (unlike Mahoney here in LA that wasted too many dollars on a building just so he could put his name on it!0, and hopefully that will lead to more dollars going to help those that need help.

      July 2, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • jkeller

      You didn't bother to look up the operating budget of Vatican City, did you?

      July 2, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      jkeller, The budget has little relationship to RCC wealth – they own a significant piece of land in Rome, paid for a city to be built, they have valuable real estate elsewhere, valuable art collection, valuable book collection, significant investments. So while they may be doing something to help the poor they're doing more to help themselves. The RCC is not alone in this – many other churches are very wealthy.

      July 2, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
  11. Russ

    "saint" = "holy one" (literally)
    in the Bible, it's used of all Christians – not because what we do makes us holy. Exactly the opposite.
    It's what Christ did for us that makes us holy.

    the notion of "being good enough" to be a saint directly misunderstands what Jesus did for us.
    the whole point is that it's not my resume but his that gets me in.

    July 2, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  12. Billy

    He was a decent pope but resided over a corrupt Vatican. He is ded and making him a saint is meaniless. But since many
    People believe In a imaginary being maybe this will make them feel better about themselves.

    July 2, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
  13. fearlessstoryteller

    Seriously, this shouldn't be "news"....but I understand that with the millions of sheep in the catholic church, this is bound to please masses (eh eh) of people. Frankly, I think the man was an idiot, and a criminal for turning a blind eye at his own church's corruption. Sainthood, my ass........my dog deserves it more than JP.

    July 2, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
  14. ShawnDH

    Sainthood? Why? Because he pretended to care for the poor as he lounged in his palace and was dripping in jewels?

    July 2, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
  15. ted

    Is this a horse race?

    July 2, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
  16. Phaerisee

    That is wonderful news. Pope John Paul II was a holy and humble man. It is important as a Church, however that we clean our own house before we celebrate it. It has now taken 14 months for the DNA analysis on the bones found in the Opus Dei Crypt at the Vatican. Are they, or are they not the bones of the kidnapped girl, Emanuela Orlandi? And if so, why were they buried in a crypt with a reputed mobster named Enrico Di Pedis?

    July 2, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • joe

      How is this news? This church is in far too deep to see its own way out. Only a real miracle will help the catholics

      July 2, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      I find it sad that people need saints to worship. I guess Jesus isn't enough for some Christians.

      July 2, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • MimiLaRue

      to jazzguitarman – spoken like an uninformed protestant, if I've ever heard one!

      July 8, 2013 at 12:16 am |
  17. R.M. Goodswell

    will be fun to see what aspect they give him:)

    July 2, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • Doobs

      My previous response mysteriously disappeared. Maybe it's another miracle?

      I think he will be the Patron Saint of Lubrication.

      July 3, 2013 at 1:42 am |
  18. Don

    Life long catholic who can appreciate what he brought as a leader of the faith.

    However – how can one overlook the scandal and cover-up related to the inappropriate behavior of the priest, cardinals and hierarchy of the church. He did not lead by example but rather kicked the can down the road.

    If that is sainthood then it really does not mean much.

    Who is next Joe Paterno?

    July 2, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • Amy

      Unfortunately, some Penn State football fans seem to think that "JoePa" was almost a saint.

      July 4, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
  19. EX catholic

    What a joke 😀 :-E

    July 2, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • crusties

      I too am an ex-catholic by choice, not because I found the religion false, but because I feel other things make better sense to me. Back off lashing out at religious people, just because we don't find these stories gratifying doesn't mean others can't.

      July 2, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • MimiLaRue

      I am so glad to know that all of the fake Catholics have left/are leaving the church. Leaves more room for us stupid, uninformed Catholics who love the church. Yay St John Paul!!! He was an incredible person and will be a terrific saint!!!

      July 8, 2013 at 12:12 am |
  20. John

    I think if you have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people praying to you with ailments and 1 or 2 of them happens to recover from their conditions (people who never even met him) those aren't "miracles" – that's statistics.

    July 2, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • pete

      well said

      July 2, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • ram

      You make a very good point there, and it makes much more sense to me than a guy who did all the negative things he did becoming a saint of any kind. Ugh.

      July 2, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.