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There is no waiting list to become a saint. Instant access, like the internet, is now available if one can prove a few miracles and get enough people to rally in ones' behalf to become a saint in less than a few years. On May 9, 2005, Pope Benedict read a letter in which "he asked the head of the Vatican Congregation, for the causes of saints, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, to waive the five-year waiting period between the time of a person's death and when the process for beatification, a key step toward sainthood, can begin (Fisher and Goodstein1). There are certain requirements to become a saint that must be adhered to before beatification, (being blessed) can be sanctioned by the church.
"The first requirement is that the deceased enjoy a genuine reputation for holiness' among the faithful. The church then interprets this as the work of the Holy Spirit" (Woodward 9). A beatification requires that the candidate has performed a miracle during his lifetime. "It must then certify a miracle attributed to his intercession after his death for him to be beatified" (Winfield 1). Peter Gould describes that the findings are reviewed by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints who will present their conclusions to the pope. The blessed may be given a day of feast, and personal items and relics are attained from the candidate. The last step for canonization is proof of a second miracle (4). The Vatican laws are explicit regarding steps required to be canonised, and the required time to process potential candidates. "At one time, the process of creating saints took decades, if not centuries" (Gould 1). The fast track approach to beatify and canonise John Paul before due process of church doctrine demonstrates the inconsistency of the Roman Catholic Church and its approach to self-serving methods, which is not in the best interest for them or the people.
The Vatican documents several miracles attributed to John Paul. "Among them came from one Cardinal Francesco Marchisano of Italy, who said his vocal chord had been paralyzed by a medical error" (Goodstein and Fisher 1). In a telephone interview with Goodstein and Fisher, the cardinal explained that the pope caressed his throat, and after seven months of therapy Marchisano was able to speak again' (1). In Italy, "Italian newspapers are already reporting supposed miraculous events attributed to John Paul's intercession even though he has been dead for only a week" (Winfield A1).
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Mary appeared" (Stein 74). The Pope had changed the course of history for people canonized during his leadership. "John Paul waived that five-year period for Mother Teresa, who died in 1997, and the beatification process began less than two years later. She was beatified in 2003" (Fisher and Goodstein 1). It was on January 25, 1983 that the canonization process was officially changed. "On that day, Pope John Paul II issued an Apostolic Constitution Divine Perfectionis Magister,' mandating the most thoroughgoing reforming of the saint-making process since the decrees of Urban VIII"(Woodward 90). This new reform expedited the process and made it more productive.
Pope John Paul had certainly made an impression among the faithful and leaders of this world. His gentle and loving nature was apparent to most who watched him during his years as Pope. Miracles however, are subjective that requires careful study. The process of beatifying is supposed to be thorough for proper information to be assessed and defined clearly if indeed a miracle event has occurred. It is for this reason a waiting period is necessary to accumulate all the necessary data required to make a proper decision of the so called miracle. A combination of virtues and miracles is assessed of the potential candidate." Pope Gregory IX, in connection with the canonization Of Saint Anthony of Padua, established the principle that neither virtues without miracles nor miracles without virtues provide sufficient grounds for canonization" (Woodward 214).
What is the urgency to make John Paul a saint? Public acclamation could be one reason to expedite the beatification of John Paul. "There is no doubt it will be a hugely popular move throughout the Catholic Church" (Gould 1). In the early days of Christianity, martyrs were beatified by public acclamation. Most of the Cardinals appointed by the pope believe that John Paul was a saint. However, some of the cardinals had suspicions about the demonstrations during the pope's funeral. "The placards, they noticed were uniformly produced, indicating that the demonstration had been organized ahead of time and was not spontaneous" (Woodward 17). Organized acclamation for sainthood is unacceptable since the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is not influencing the demonstrators. Another possibility for the staged demonstrations during John Paul's funeral "contends that conservative groups are interested in making John Paul a saint quickly in order to influence the conclave to elect a new pope; suggesting that the newly elected pope may choose to wave the rule requiring a five-year wait before canonization process begins"(Woodward 9).
As spiritually uplifting as the case may be, beatifying John Paul has some financial reward for the church as well. "The scope for special issue stamps and coins celebrating the new status of John Paul II is obvious, although the Vatican would be horrified by any suggestions it was cashing in on the former Pope (Gould 4). The demand for memorabilia, continues Gould, is popular from collectors and those faithful to the late pontiff.
What of the characteristics and virtues of the candidate? Although most people can agree that the John Paul was indeed a holy man, beatifying involves answering the most sacred questions about his past life before becoming pope. Richard Baxter who defines the core of a person destined for canonization describes the character of the persons for whom sainthood is considered. "This individual is chosen from eternity, given to Christ, born again, deeply convinced of the evil of sin, their misery by sin, the vanity of the creature, their will is porportionably changed, they engage in covenant with Christ and the all-sufficiency of Christ "(Baxter 5). Is it possible to learn about these virtues in such a short period? Years of researching the writings of John Paul, public and private, need to be studied. Reliable witnesses need to come forth to give testimony in behalf of John Paul. Testimony is not to dispute or concur with John Paul's character, but in essence to apply a system of authenticity to verify facts. Sainthood is an eternal proclamation not rushed into. The waiting period also serves as calm down period. When a beloved one dies, our emotions are at its peak with grief. It is human nature to uplift the individual we had lost and to someway express to them our love and hurt. When President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, the overwhelming grief of the nations loss was fixated on who the real killer was and denying that there was no conspiracy. As a grieving nation, it was inconceivable that one man can get away with killing the leader of the free world. After 40 years there are people still not convinced that no conspiracy was involved in the assassination of John Kennedy.
Politics and religion will always be an issue no matter what beliefs one subscribes to. "Of Pope Johns 260 predecessors as bishops of Rome, 81 are regarded as saints by the church of saints" (Woodward 281). This saint-producing factory is deflating the value of sainthood. Saints are those rare persons who have demonstrated a total belief and practice of the divine life as described "chosen of God before the foundation of the world" (Baxter 5). Identifying with those whom have been canonized during our lifetime can certainly allow us to relate in a new light compared to those from years ago; however changing church history cannot alter that fact. We must adhere to the church laws traditionally passed down since the medieval times of martyrs whom have given their lives for the cause of Christianity. Changing these traditions for the sake of promotion and advertisement to recruit more Catholics is certainly not Christian behavior. It is about godliness as best as we can understand it. "Because only God knows what graces a person has received and how that person responded to them, heroic virtue must be inferred from external evidence" (Baxter 223).
Perhaps Pope John Paul has all the virtues and characteristics required to become a saint. Allowing the wait period, as traditionally mandated by church doctrine, will not lessen the possibility of canonizing John Paul. Should all the evidence agree with the qualifications for sainthood, John Paul's legacy and contribution to human kind and to the spiritual uplifting of the faithful will come full circle. The true saint "shall be enjoyed by the people of God" (Baxter 5). No man can stop someone from becoming a saint if destined by God.