Pope John Paul II is on course for the fastest ascent to sainthood in the modern era, according to the priest in charge of managing the process.

Fr Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Carlow Nationalist.
This column appeared on 13 June 2008

Pope John Paul II is on course for the fastest ascent to sainthood in the modern era, according to the priest in charge of managing the process. It is expected that John Paul 11’s beatification, the second of the three steps to cannonisation, will be bestowed by next spring. Arrangements are in the hands of Mgr Slawomir Oder, the late pope’s postulator; a Church official who presents an appeal for beatification or canonization. He is gathering together a two thousand page dossier, of all the documents attesting to the holiness and indeed extraordinary life of the late pope.

If John Paul II is declared Blessed by next spring, he will beat Mother Teresa’s record of five years to reach the same stage. Normally, the process of becoming a saint takes decades if not centuries. One certified miracle is required for beatification and a second for caonisation. When John Paul II died on April 2, 2005, the throng of worshippers in St Peter’s Square called for him to be santo subito that is immediately proclaimed a saint. Benedict XVI lifted the normal restrictions that bar candidates from being considered for sainthood until they have been dead for five years. The same exception was made for Mother Teresa.

I have no doubt that John Paul II; will be one of the great saints of the modern Church. Already Hundreds of Thousands have a devotion of praying through his intercession. Those who are burdened by illness and anxiety can somehow identify with this compassionate and humble friend of the Lord. Remembering this Holy man, always points to suffering. Throughout his life he had many hardships and indeed heartaches to endure. The poverty and violence of his youth, the fear and uncertainty of an occupied Poland by Nazi Germany, his many bereavements, attempted assassination, and his diminishing health years before his death; these are just some of the many crosses this great Pope carried.

His ability to relate and empathize to a broken and fragile people brought him to the hearts of believers and non believers alike. His love for young people will always be remembered by the World Youth Day festivals which continue to offer life, hope and encouragement to millions of young people throughout the world. John Paul II was a fearless defender of human life, especially to the unborn and was uncompromising in his cry against abortion. In the same way he was a man of peace whose guiding hands many attribute the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, achieved through peace and solidarity. John Paul II was a man of prayer; he was consumed by a deep and intimate love for the Risen Lord. Despite his diminishing mobility and even his ability to communicate John Paul continued to preach Gods word. His best witness may well have been his final years of extreme suffering when he continued the relentless schedule of travel, liturgy and being available to the millions of pilgrims who came to visit him annually.

The Church has been given a great treasure in the life of John Paul II. He can do more in Heaven than he ever could have achieved on earth. Make this holy man your friend. Pray to him asking for his intercession and great things will happen in your life. John Paul, pray for us.