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. JMC

    Do Catholics really need more people to pray to? I mean, it's not as if there is currently a shortage. 1 Timothy 2:5 clearly states there is ONE God and ONE mediator between God and mankind, the man Jesus Christ. I guess they miss this part as they seem to only use the bible when its convenient for them,....like fighting against marriage equality and defending priests raping boys. SICK!

    July 2, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • ss

      Prayer is dialog. Why would you ignore the spiritual world that will be your heavenly family after you die (if you believe..)?

      July 3, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  2. JJ

    Why doesn't your god or saints heal an amputee and cause a limb to automagically grow back? Why is it always something like a cancer that just mysteriously disappears due to most likely a misdiagnosis in the first place? Are you really that gullible?

    July 2, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • MC


      July 2, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • 7up

      Here we go again with these stupid atheists.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:37 pm |

    • I guess I'm stumped too, JJ.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Which limb(s) have you lost?

      July 2, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      Worshipping the wrong gods, dude!
      All bow to the Lizard King!

      July 2, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • Southernsuga

      Try praying, bubba. You never know.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • Southernsuga

      Try praying. Miracles do happen. I am witness to two of them.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • JJ

      Did you get an amputee's limb to grow back or find a dollar bill in the street.....bubba?

      July 2, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Southernsuga, you've got the easy part done – making the claim. Now, what's your story, where's the evidence and how was it determined a true miracle occurred?

      July 2, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • Jason Glugla

      No, it is because there is something called faith that is required.

      July 2, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
    • a reasonable atheist

      @MP The lizard king is a false idol as he only heals tails (/ignore newts)! All hail Lord Planarius, who will regenerate itself if severed (kind of like a tribble)!

      July 3, 2013 at 12:46 am |
    • a reasonable atheist


      So, are you claiming that no amputee has had faith? Not one regrown limb.. ever. Wow, amputees must be the most god-scorned people on earth.

      July 3, 2013 at 12:49 am |
  3. Lee Brown

    What hocus pocus bull.

    July 2, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
  4. kamal

    I think this discussion is stupid! Move on guys....get a life!

    July 2, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  5. George

    As part of its expose on modern-day slavery, CNN should look into the continued oppression of women by the Catholic church and all the other world's religions. John-Paul did nothing to ensure the equality of the world's women.

    July 2, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
  6. Richard Horan

    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.
    I guess the polish money are down
    Wait they prayed to the pope, not God, who said put not god before me, and they are going to make him a saint. Another reason they are a cult and not a religion.

    July 2, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
    • MC

      Get help, half-wit. The mere fact that their theology differs from yours does not make them a cult.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      All religions are cults. Deal with it.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • GnatB

      Technically speaking, the fact that their religion diverges from the teachings of the bible makes them a "christian cult"... but the whole concept of praying to a saint instead of god is only one of many issues.

      *cough* Mathew 23:9 "And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven."

      Why many protestant practicioners won't call a member of the catholic clergy "Father". They were told not to by somebody with a lot more authority.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • brian

      The fact that they can't even follow the rules of their own religion make them less than believable that's for sure.

      July 2, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
    • ImIrish

      MC – I guess I don't understand why those who have no faith are so intimidated by those of us who do and feel the need to bash us? If you don't believe, then don't, but by mocking those of us who do, you make yourselves look foolish.

      July 2, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      It's not bashing to tell you that you need to shed the Pope and that Cult of the Man on the Stick, Irishman.

      July 2, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
  7. joe


    July 2, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
  8. George

    How can he become a saint when he failed to deal with the child abuse by priests on his watch?

    July 2, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Amy

      Sadly, many lay people also look the other way. If you read the comments on some articles about teachers charged with child abuse, it's shocking to see the number of people who still think the young victims "asked for" that treatment! If it happened to them or to someone they love, they might feel different.

      July 4, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  9. thegadfly

    Those folks prayed to JPII, rather than to God? Hmm.

    July 2, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
    • Patrick

      Catholics pray directly to God, but we also pray to the saints for intervention with God. In other words, we ask the saints to pray to God for us. The theological assumption is that they are in God's presence and can articulate our prayers with the Lord on our behalf.

      It's just like asking a friend to pray for you, but this friend is already in heaven.

      July 2, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
    • Patrick

      I don't know why you're asking the Heston when it's obvious that we do. Unless its meant as some weak attempt at humor.

      We believe. That's what we do. We use intelligence, reason, intuition, hope, and love to arrive at these beliefs. We have experiences that reinforce these beliefs. We share the beliefs with others and try to live our beliefs to benefit those less fortunate than we are.

      Why are you so angry about that?

      July 2, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • JJ

      Angry? Is that what you call people who find your beliefs in such obvious frauds incredulous? I just can't believe anyone can be so gullible.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Alleged experiences and not a shred of proof for any god, a divine jesus or The Babble, said with not an iota of anger.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
  10. David

    Who cares? The Catholic Church is just a self-serving SuperPac raising money for itself. Why do you think those priests are so fat?

    July 2, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • Patrick

      Most priests live spartan lives dedicated to the service of others. Many work with poor, homeless, and dying in third world countries. I suspect the average priest is significantly less 'fat' than the average American.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
  11. Joe

    I read the comments on these Religion articles and the big commonality on every one of them is how juvenile and insulting people are towards Catholics.

    July 2, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • Athy

      Have you ever gone to a catholic mass, Joe? Go sometime and maybe you'll begin to understand.

      July 3, 2013 at 1:29 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Catholics and christians are not special – we pick on all cults equally.

      July 3, 2013 at 1:35 am |
  12. hyden

    the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence

    July 2, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • a reasonable atheist

      The absence of evidence is, however, evidence of unfoundedness.

      July 3, 2013 at 12:53 am |
  13. Andrew

    How is THIS news? I'm not interested in it at all, so CNN shouldn't put it on their website at all...

    July 2, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
  14. Francisco Decastro

    How can he be close to sainthood? Is he doing something while dead, to become closer and closer to sainthood? If he died close to be a saint, he shouldn't be a saint!... The fact that he is getting closer to sainthood while dead, makes it seem as if he is working while he is dead.

    July 2, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • JJ

      The delusional pedophile supporters of the cult actually believe he works magic from the grave and cures people of a disease. I would just love to see him grow back an amputated limb.

      July 2, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Patrick

      The Vatican is saying that they a closer to recognizing him as a saint, not that he's doing something in death to make himself closer to being a saint. They are talking about the Vatican's research and investigative process, which usually takes decades, or even centuries to unfold before they recognize sainthood.

      In fact, God determines sainthood long before the church recognizes it. Strictly speaking, everyone in heaven, whether named by the church or not, is considered a saint.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • Patrick

      Hey, JJ. Something tells me you wouldn't "love" to see God miraculously cure an amputee. I think it would scare you beyond reason to learn that you've been wrong about God all these years. I suspect you would fall down on your knees in fear and grief.

      But hopefully, the love would come shortly thereafter.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Patrick; I have no issue or anger towards those that are faith based. But when they try to say there is proof for their myths then I do laugh at them. To me that is borderline insanity. If one really has faith they don't need to prove their faith to others by making up stuff. i.e. pretenting their myths can be factually proven. Just love your faith.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • ajk68

      @jazzguitarman: There is nothing crazy about having proof. What is unreasonable is to assume that there can't be proof – as you have done.

      In fact, the Catholic Church has been the chief exponent of the notion that faith must be reasonable – and that reason should be used to understand the faith. Catholics belief faith and reason (and science) are completely compatible and mutually aiding. It is actually the Church's strong stand on this that lead the Western world to the idea that nature is understandable and is governed in an intelligible way.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      MC; You clearly have anger issues. If you don't agree with someone they are an idiot or half wit. While you make some very valid points why the need to name call? I guess having manners wasn't something you learned.

      July 2, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Patrick; I agree with you that the Catholic church has made great progess as it relates to NOT believing the Christians myths actually occured but instead are just metaphors. e.g. there was NOT a virgin birth. JC didn't return from the dead (he was only 'seen' in sprit), the earth isn't less than 10K old etc..

      But one cannot prove there is a god (or disprove this), that there is such a place as heaven, etc... Those concepts have to be accepted on faith. Again, I don't have an issue with those that accept those on faith but if they are to claim they have facts or science to back them up,,, well, that is complete and total folly.

      July 2, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      The above post was for Ajk68 and not Patrick (and why isn't there a reply button for each post, instead of only a 'top' post. Sometimes there are separate reply buttons and sometimes there is not. Strange.

      July 2, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
  15. john curtis

    he aided and abetted and encouraged pedophiles and should go to prison

    July 2, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  16. Olaf Big

    While we are on the subject, could somebody update me on Pius XII's progress towards sainthood? That's right, the guy who was so concerned about the survival of the Catholic church (and its very significant wealth) in Nazi Germany that he prudently kept mum the entire seven years that Hitler was exterminating Jews and laying Europe to waste.

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

      You need to find better history books. Most of the "Hitlers Pope" garbage has been debunked over the years by independent scholars. Look for primary sources and peer reviewed articles, not just Wikipedia.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • Olaf Big

      Patrick, the Pope's power over the people is in his public word. It does not take a scholar of the Church history to know that Pius XII never ever uttered one public word of condemnation against Hitler during the war years.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • ajk68

      @Olaf Big: You are historically mistaken.

      First off Pius XII was involved in the writing of Mit Brennender Sorge.
      As pope he wrote Summi Pontificatus.
      Both of these condemned Nazism.

      He also did quite a bit on the personal level as pope to help people escape Germany.
      Read the comments by the Chief Rabbi of Rome Elio Toaff.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • Olaf Big

      Ajk68, I don't think I am. "Mit brennenden Sorge" was written in 1937, so about two years before the start of World War II, and it is anything but condemnation on Nazism, a mild expression of concern about the state of relations between the Church and the State in Germany at most. Summi Pontificatus, written less than two months after the start of the war , when there was still hope that it would be over soon, is so long and obscure, that I strongly doubt that anybody, Catholic or not, had time to read it back then, much less interpret it is a condemnation of Nazism.

      July 2, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • a reasonable atheist


      I doubt anyone would dispute the claim that he helped many escape Germany. Of course, a large portion of the escapees were Nazis fleeing justice....

      July 3, 2013 at 1:00 am |
    • Trigger T

      Patrick and AJK

      The Vatican didn't become a sovereign state until the 1920's under Mussolini. If that gives you any clue where their allegience was placed.

      July 3, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  17. goddog

    Catholics and their dogma... (eyes rolling).

    July 2, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
  18. Edge

    This is some seriously funny stuff. I'm not a believer in the christian hoax, but if that crap is true, this cat has the strong smell of sulfure in his nose, and a searing burning pain in his behind right now, oh yeah, and forever.

    July 2, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
  19. oobydooby99


    July 2, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
  20. john

    I heard two of the miracles were actually card tricks........they should not count tward sainthood.

    July 2, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • James Tolouse

      Wrong, card tricks DO count.

      July 2, 2013 at 7:55 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.