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. Waking up

    So when Jesus got there, Lazarus already in the tomb, he knew what to do, he prayed to:

    1. Moses
    2. Isaiah
    3. Abraham
    4. David
    5. Soloman
    6. Jacob
    7. Israel
    8. Joseph
    9. Jerimiah
    10. Ezekiel
    11. Noah
    12. God
    13. All of the above
    14. None of the above

    This is a tough question, so take a few centuries to think it over, then sign your name at the top before you hand in your exam.

    July 3, 2013 at 12:12 am |
    • Reality

      JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

      Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

      Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

      Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Many contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

      Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah/Argentine white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

      So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?

      July 3, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • Reality

      Added note:

      Please note that the "raising" of Lazarus * appears in only John's gospel (11:1-46), the least historic of the four. Such an important event would have been noted in all the gospels and other related docu-ments from the time period. A single attestation in a suspect docu-ment makes said passage historically nil.

      For added commentary, see Professor Gerd Ludemann's analysis in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 507-514.

      July 3, 2013 at 7:51 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      I think in the color-by-numbers book it has jesus asking his invisible, sky-wizard daddy to really help out his magic spell. And then he chants his spell, and the dragon's heart begins to beat and glow--–wait, I mean a dead guy comes out of his grave....... I think it's the second one.

      July 3, 2013 at 7:56 am |
  2. Mack

    Can we please learn more about these medically incredible events? So little information exists about the actual medical issues and subsequent recoveries. I'd sure be curious to know more. It would also be really awesome if one of the "miracles" was to re-grow a missing limb or something so we can validate this once and for all.

    July 2, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • ooo

      As you know, and all should know, this is just a case of the church taking advantage of a popular Pope's followers. Basically feeding them red meat by drumming up some little known and impossible to prove "miricles" just to push him to sainthood.

      There are no miricles, and the church knows it too. It's all a game.

      July 2, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      The only ones who will be doing any regrowth of limbs will be science as they unlock the genetic code of creatures like the Planarian worms and are able to manipulate our own genes. Thank science for science.

      July 3, 2013 at 12:02 am |
    • a reasonable atheist



      Dear science, thanks for painstakingly toiling to unlock real, usable knowledge for the betterment of humanity and providing me with a fun path to earn an income.

      One of your -ists

      July 3, 2013 at 1:04 am |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      Why don't they nominate science to be a Saint? It's performed far more "miracles" and saved millions more lives than any Pope.

      July 3, 2013 at 7:47 am |
    • a reasonable atheist

      Unfortunately, science is not Catholic. It is merely universal (yuckyuckyuck).

      July 3, 2013 at 8:53 am |
  3. Bleh

    All hail black jesus!

    July 2, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
  4. ooo

    Two miicles, huh? And they ddn't even make the cover of The Daily Star!

    July 2, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • Dippy

      It's "miracles."

      July 3, 2013 at 1:32 am |
  5. Jim

    The bible says,the bible says,blah, blah, blah. I used to be there but thank goodness I lived long enough to see the real light....that all religion is a crock

    July 2, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
    • Gino


      July 2, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
  6. Marc Faure

    Two "confirmed" miracles, lol. Oh lord, these people have no shame.

    July 2, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
  7. Jo Black

    Why can't he just be a good guy? Where's the miracles? Seems a to quick and Pope's should not canonize other Popes.

    July 2, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
  8. Boink

    Praying to the pope is worshipping a false idol.

    July 2, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • Brian monosso

      Show me proof.

      July 2, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • Mack

      Boink: He can't. Neither can you. Precisely why this sainthood thing is an enormous waste of time and insult to human intelligence.

      July 2, 2013 at 11:42 pm |


    Witnessed to truth absolute GOD is first article of consti tution of USA, and truth absolute is foundation of United states, none other, has any one mentioned hindu secularsim, criminal self center ism, in any article of consti tution of USA, REST ASSURED N O N E.

    July 2, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
    • Gino

      Take two of these and call me in the morning.

      July 2, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
  10. tallulah13

    The thing that bugs me most about canonization is that it actually has nothing to do with cannon.

    July 2, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
  11. Tim d

    Fast track to sainthood is maybe more an aspect of technology and bureaucratic breakthroughs, unless there's a beatification quota. However the criteria for miracles seems shamelessly lax.

    July 2, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
    • ss

      The criteria for authenticating a miracle is quite rigorous since many healings have been determined to be a fraud. A medical and scientific committee comprising Catholics and non-Catholics have to examine the miraculous healing and determine that there is no explanation for the cure. There are also many other rules during the process of determination.

      July 2, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • G to the T

      Classic christian rationality – "I don't know" = "Goddidit"

      July 3, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  12. Me

    This sainthood thing is such a load of rubbish! No human being on earth has the power to perform miracles. As far as I know, we still don't have a Super Hero in our population, on this tiny spec of dust in the vast, vast universe. If people are cured "miraculously" from a disease, history will show one day that the body has incredible healing powers, plain and simple. Let's not forget that this so-called Saint opposed condoms, gays and lesbians, and women in the church! All he did was hold a position. God or no god, this man was...in all fairness....just a man!

    July 2, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • Gino

      Karol was a decent guy, but as head of the Magic Show, it lessened him.

      July 2, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
    • joe

      that some people spontaneously heal is no more a miracle than some people spontaneously getting sick or spontaneously dying but when it's the getting sick or dying the true believers blame nature and when it's the healing they give their sky god all the credit.

      They always want to give their God all the credit with no responsibility.

      July 3, 2013 at 12:20 am |
  13. ss

    The bible says that heaven and earth rejoice over one sinner who repents. It also mentions a great "cloud of witnesses" that surround those who believe in Christ. The saints in heaven know what we are doing and they care. Don't ignore the saints who are in the presence of God.

    July 2, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      It's all a fairy tale.

      July 2, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
    • Gino

      if you believe this, I have some seafront property in Phoenix that should interest you.

      July 2, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
  14. Just a guy

    I never understood how this saint thing works. Seems to me that if the Catholic version is true (and I not saying that it is or it isn't) and you arrive in Heaven and you are bathed in the Glory of God and you are in a state of perfect bliss, why would you worry at all about what is happening back on Earth. Seems to me that would be the last thing that you would worry about. In fact, it seems to me that you would not have any worries or concerns at all. Maybe after a couple of thousand years you might think of something, but in less than 10 years, I doubt it.

    July 2, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • ss

      Because the faithful on earth and the faithful in heaven are all part of the mystical body of Christ and therefore care for each other just as Christ loves us. Look up Church Militant, Church suffering, and Church Triumphant.

      July 2, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      SS, you mean mythical, not mystical.

      July 2, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • lgalb

      There's a simpler approach that is more consistent with modern times. Saints are examples of outstanding individuals who can teach us lessons about how we live our lives.

      July 2, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • ImIrish

      Peteyroo – Why are you so intimidated by the faithful?

      July 2, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
    • Just a guy

      OK, so no one Is capable of giving me a meaningful response. If you are in Heaven and you are still worried about what is happening on Earth, then you are not really in Heaven, because if you were you would not have a care in the world. Citing Church teachings to explain Church teachings is no answer.

      July 3, 2013 at 4:44 am |
    • JA

      As a non-denominational Christian, here's what I think about it. If God is the only being that is omniscient, that means that the saints are not. You have a billion plus Catholics in the world praying to these saints. Seems to me there is a long waiting list of prayers to be answered by them, and one's prayer most likely won't be answered in their lifetime.

      July 3, 2013 at 8:57 am |
  15. Jason Glugla

    It is nice when you are a member of a club whose members can appoint themselves to Sainthood.

    July 2, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
    • ram

      Yes, it is. How convenient that is and how special it makes sainthood. Everyone in my family seems to think I am awesome...maybe I should become queen.

      But seriously???? I thought I was on the Onion for a minute.

      July 2, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
  16. J

    Where is the like button on this blog? We need to get the relative statements to the top!!!!

    July 2, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
  17. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    It isn't really much of a race. Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause some time ago and John Paul II has hardly left the starting block.

    July 2, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
  18. MrCrewel Dude

    Maybe the second miracle, was when he found the pope in da peteza!

    July 2, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
  19. MagicPanties

    My invisible pink unicorn should be sainted.
    She heals me daily and makes my religious delusions disappear.
    It's really amazing.

    July 2, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      Your pink unicorn should, indeed, be sainted. My green unicorn wants to watch.

      July 2, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
  20. Larkin Kinsella

    I just hope everyone becomes a saint and spends eternity as very very happy people.

    July 2, 2013 at 8:39 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.