Saturday, April 2, 2011
Remembering a great Pope after 6 Years later
Blessed Pope John Paul II: I will never forget this day for the rest of my life, Holy Father, you were the one who inspired me to become a better Catholic, I will treasure it dearly, I hope you become a saint soon, remembering you after 6 years today, may you rest in peace!
On 31 March 2005 following a urinary tract infection Pope John Paul II developed septic shock, a widespread form of infection with a very high fever and profoundly low blood pressure, but was not taken to the hospital. Instead, he was offered medical monitoring by a team of consultants at his private residence. This was taken as an indication that the pope and those close to him believed that he was nearing death; it would have been in accordance with his wishes to die in the Vatican. Later that day, Vatican sources announced that John Paul II had been given the Anointing of the Sick by his friend and secretary Stanisław Dziwisz. During the final days of the Pope's life, the lights were kept burning through the night where he lay in the Papal apartment on the top floor of the Apostolic Palace. Tens of thousands of people assembled and held vigil in St. Peter's Square and the surrounding streets for two days. Upon hearing of this, the dying pope was said to have stated: “I have searched for you, and now you have come to me, and I thank you.”On Saturday 2 April 2005, at about 15:30 CEST, John Paul II spoke his final words, “pozwólcie mi odejść do domu Ojca”, (“Let me depart to the house of the Father”), to his aides in his native Polish and fell into a coma about four hours later. The mass of the vigil of the Second Sunday of Easter commemorating the canonisation of Saint Maria Faustina on 30 April 2000,had just been celebrated at his bedside, presided over by Stanisław Dziwisz and two Polish associates. Also present at the bedside was a cardinal from Ukraine who served as a priest with John Paul in Poland, along with Polish nuns of the Congregation of the Sisters Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, who ran the papal household. He died in his private apartment, at 21:37 CEST (19:37 UTC) of heart failure from profound hypotension and complete circulatory collapse from septic shock, 46 days short of his 85th birthday. John Paul had no close family by the time he died, and his feelings are reflected in his words, as written in 2000, at the end of his Last Will and Testament:
“As the end of my earthly life approaches, I return with my memory to its beginning, to my parents, my brother and the sister (whom I never knew because she died before my birth), to the Parish of Wadowice where I was baptised, to that city I love, to my peers, friends from elementary school, high school and the university, up to the time of the occupation when I was a worker, then in the Parish in Niegowic, to St Florian's in Kraków, to the pastoral ministry of academics, to the milieu of... to all milieux... to Kraków and to Rome... to the people who were entrusted to me in a special way by the Lord.”
The death of the pontiff set in motion rituals and traditions dating back to medieval times. The Rite of Visitation took place from 4 April to 7 April at St. Peter's Basilica. The Testament of Pope John Paul II published on 7 April revealed that the pontiff contemplated being buried in his native Poland but left the final decision to The College of Cardinals, which in passing, preferred burial beneath St. Peter's Basilica, honouring the pontiff's request to be placed "in bare earth". The Mass of Requiem on 8 April was said to have set world records both for attendance and number of heads of state present at a funeral. It was the single largest gathering of heads of state in history, surpassing the funerals of Winston Churchill (1965) and Josip Broz Tito (1980). Four kings, five queens, at least 70 presidents and prime ministers, and more than 14 leaders of other religions were attending alongside the faithful. It is also likely to have been the largest single pilgrimage of Christianity in history, with numbers estimated in excess of four million mourners gathering in Rome. From 250,000 to 300,000 watched the event from within the Vatican walls. The Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would become the next pope, conducted the ceremony. John Paul II was interred in the grottoes under the basilica, the Tomb of the Popes. He was lowered into a tomb created in the same alcove previously occupied by the remains of Pope John XXIII. The alcove had been empty since Pope John's remains had been moved into the main body of the basilica after his beatification. Pope John Paul II reigned as pope of the Roman Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City for almost 27 years. Since his death on April 2, 2005, many thousands of people have been supporting the case for beatifying and canonising the late Pope John Paul II as a Saint. Since the death of John Paul II, a number of clergy at the Vatican and laymen throughout the world have been referring to the late pontiff as "John Paul the Great"—only the fourth pope to be so acclaimed, and the first since the first millennium. Scholars of Canon Law say that there is no official process for declaring a pope "Great"; the title simply establishes itself through popular and continued usage. The three popes who today commonly are known as "Great" are: Leo I, who reigned from 440–461 and persuaded Attila the Hun to withdraw from Rome; Gregory I, 590–604, after whom the Gregorian Chant is named; and Pope Nicholas I 858-867.
His successor, Pope Benedict XVI, referred to him as "the great Pope John Paul II" in his first addressed from the loggia of St Peter's Church, and he referred to Pope John Paul II as "the Great" in his published written homily for the Mass of Repose.
Since giving his homily at the funeral of Pope John Paul, Pope Benedict XVI has continued to refer to John Paul II as "the Great." At the 2005 World Youth Day in Germany, Pope Benedict XVI, speaking in Polish, John Paul's native language, said, “As the great Pope John Paul II would say: keep the flame of faith alive in your lives and your people.” In May 2006, Pope Benedict XVI visited John Paul's native Poland. During that visit he repeatedly made references to “the great John Paul” and “my great predecessor”.
In addition to the Vatican calling him "the great," numerous newspapers have also done so. For example the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera called him "the Greatest" and the South African Catholic newspaper, The Southern Cross, has called him "John Paul II The Great."
John Paul II's official title was: ‘Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of Saint Peter, Head of the College of Bishops, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City, Servus Servorum Dei, Pope John Paul II.’ In 2006 the title Patriarch of the West was removed from the papal list of titles by the reigning pope, Benedict XVI.
On 9 May 2005, Benedict XVI began the beatification process for his predecessor. Normally five years must pass after a person's death before the beatification process can begin. However, in an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, Camillo Ruini, Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome and the one responsible for promoting the cause for canonisation of any person who dies within that diocese, cited "exceptional circumstances" which suggested that the waiting period could be waived.
The "exceptional circumstances" may possibly refer to the people's cries of "Santo Subito!" ("Make him a Saint Now!" in Italian) during the late pontiff's funeral. Therefore the new Pope waived the five year rule "so that the cause of Beatification and Canonisation of the same Servant of God can begin immediately. The decision was announced on 13 May 2005, the Feast of Our Lady of Fátima and the 24th anniversary of the assassination attempt on John Paul II at St. Peter's Square. John Paul II often credited Our Lady of Fátima for preserving him on that day. Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome, officially opened the cause for beatification in the Lateran Basilica on 28 June 2005.
In early 2006, it was reported that the Vatican was investigating a possible miracle associated with John Paul II. A French nun, confined to her bed by Parkinson's Disease, is reported to have experienced a "complete and lasting cure after members of her community prayed for the intercession of Pope John Paul II". The nun was later identified as Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, a member of the Congregation of Little Sisters of Catholic Maternity Wards from Puyricard, near Aix-en-Provence. Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, 46, is working again, now in Paris at a maternity hospital run by her order. She met reporters 30 March 2006 in Aix-en-Provence during a press conference with Archbishop Claude Feidt of Aix, the archdiocese where the cure took place.
“I was sick and now I am cured,” she told reporters. “I am cured, but it is up to the church to say whether it was a miracle or not.”
On 28 May 2006, Pope Benedict XVI said Mass before an estimated 900,000 people in John Paul II's native Poland. During his homily he encouraged prayers for the early canonisation of John Paul II and stated that he hoped canonisation would happen "in the near future."
In January 2007, it was announced by Stanisław Cardinal Dziwisz of Kraków, his former secretary, that the key interviewing phase in Italy and Poland of the beatification process was nearing completion. Cardinal Dziwisz had been giving an interview that featured the introduction of his new book in Polish and Italian, Living With Karol, when he made the announcement. In February 2007, the website of the late pope's sainthood cause has stated that relics of Pope John Paul II — pieces of white papal cassocks he used to wear — were being freely distributed with prayer cards for the cause to interested parties; this distribution and prayerful use of relics is a typical praiseworthy pious practice after a saintly Catholic's death.
On 8 March 2007 the Vicariate of Rome announced that the diocesan phase of John Paul's cause for beatification is at an end. Following a ceremony on 2 April 2007 — the second anniversary of the Pontiff's death — the cause proceeded to the scrutiny of the committee of lay, clerical, and episcopal members of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints, who will conduct an investigation of their own. On the fourth anniversary of Pope John Paul's death, 2 April 2009, Cardinal Dziwisz, told reporters of a presumed miracle that had recently occurred at the former pope's tomb in St. Peter's Basilica. A nine year-old Polish boy from Gdańsk, who was suffering from kidney cancer and was completely unable to walk, had been visiting the tomb with his parents. On leaving St. Peter's basilica, the boy told them, "I want to walk," and began walking normally.
In October 2009, Rome's mayor Gianni Alemanno said that the beatification, likely to draw huge crowds, was expected to take place in 2010, but on 4 November 2009 Monsignor Slawomir Oder, postulator of the cause of beatification, said that it was not yet known when study of the case could be concluded. On 16 November 2009, a panel of reviewers at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints voted unanimously that Pope John Paul II had lived a life of virtue. If Pope Benedict XVI agrees, he will sign the first of two decrees needed for beatification. The first recognises that he lived a heroic, virtuous life and enables him to be called "Venerable", the next step in the sainthood process. That decree was signed by Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday, December 19, 2009. The second vote and the second signed decree would recognise the authenticity of his first miracle (most likely, the case of Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, the French nun who was cured of Parkinson's Disease). Once the second decree is signed, the ‘positio′ (the report on the cause, with documentation about his life and his writings and with information on the cause) is regarded as being complete. He can then be beatified. Some have speculated that this would be sometime during or soon after October of 2010, the anniversary of his election as Pope. Monsignor Slawomir Oder, postulator of the cause, in his book on the Pope, mentioned on the light of the beatification process, that Pope John Paul II flagellated himself and how he used a whip which he also took to his holiday home in Castelgandolfo. The book publishes the testimony of 114 witnesses. He also mentions that the group Brigate Rosse planned to kidnap him.
“It will be a great joy for us when he is officially beatified, but as far as we are concerned he is already a Saint.”