Cardinals Lobby for Swift Sainthood for John Paul II
The New York Times reports that cardinals are likely to bow to popular pressure to make the late Pope John Paul II a saint and to do so ahead of the standard schedule.
The cardinals electing a successor to Pope John Paul II are facing unusual popular pressure to declare him a saint, with some in their select ranks playing a role in the unofficial campaign through deft messages, press leaks and internal lobbying. The canonization campaign may even be playing a part in the succession politics.
Calls for sainthood began almost immediately after the pope died on April 2, and reached a peak at his funeral last Friday, when mourners in St. Peter’s Square held up huge banners saying, “Santo Subito,” or “Saint Now,” and chanted “Santo, Santo.” Soon, reports began pouring in of miraculous cures through the pope’s intervention.
Several Italian newspapers also reported that the Vatican had quietly been collecting letters and messages from people attesting to healings attributed to the widely beloved pontiff. Luigi Accattoli, one of the most senior and respected Vatican beat reporters, wrote in Corriere della Sera that a petition has already been circulated among the cardinals seeking signatures for a fast-track canonization process for John Paul. The process usually involves years – sometimes centuries – of careful investigation before a final declaration of sainthood. Several cardinals confirmed that the idea of rapid canonization was discussed the day after the pope’s funeral, at their daily meeting.
If John Paul is canonized, he would be only the fourth pope to be so honored in 900 years.
In theory, sainthood is not simply the equivalent of the Catholic Hall of Fame. In reality, though, canonization has always been mostly political, with sainthoods handed out to popular figures. Pope John Paul II himself was an avid fan of bestowing sainthood for this purpose, especially to appease local interests in the developing world.