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The meaning of John Paul’s beatification

May 2, 2011
Salt + Light CEO, Father Thomas Rosica offered this reflection prior to the beatification of John Paul II on Holy Post, the National Post's religion blog.
The meaning of John Paul’s beatification
Father Thomas Rosica
National Post - Canada
On Sunday, in a formal, public ceremony before hundreds of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict XVI will proclaim “blessed” Karol Wojtyla — Pope John Paul II.  For beatification, the Vatican requires proof of a miracle attributed to the candidate’s intercession, unless the candidate was martyred for his or her faith.
In the case of Pope John Paul II, the miracle accepted and confirmed was that of the healing from Parkinson’s disease of a 48-year-old French nun.  The second miracle — the one needed for canonization — must take place after the beatification ceremony and is seen as God’s final seal of approval on the church’s declaration of holiness. That a person is declared “blessed” is not a statement about perfection.  It does not mean that the person was without imperfection, blindness, deafness or sin. Nor is it a 360-degree evaluation of the pontificate or of the Vatican. Beatification and canonization are about personal holiness.
From his childhood, Wojtyla faced hardships that tested his faith and trust in God. He lost his mother when he was nine  years old and three years later lost his only brother to scarlet fever. His father died when Karol was 20. His vocation was slowly confirmed during the dramatic events and years of the Second World War. As a young man, Karol was an actor with a local theater group and a robust athlete who loved the mountains and lakes, and an accomplished poet.
He knew the hardship of labour as he cut stones at a rock quarry. He also assisted his friends in smuggling Jews to safety during he Holocaust.
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Image: CNS photo/Giancarlo Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo

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