Former secretary says he expects late pope’s beatification in June

By Jonathan Luxmoore
Catholic News Service

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- Pope John Paul II's former secretary has said he expects the late pontiff to be beatified in June, when Pope Benedict XVI is expected to make his first visit to Poland.

"I hope it can happen as early as next year -- a lot of people yearn for him to be proclaimed a saint straight off," said Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, who began serving as Pope John Paul's secretary in 1966, when the late pontiff was archbishop of Krakow.

"No one doubts his sanctity, not only here in Krakow or in Poland. The whole world saw and knew him and has already canonized him in practice. The current beatification process serves to gain moral certainty," Archbishop Dziwisz said in an interview before John Paul II Day, celebrated Oct. 16 as a public holiday in the late pope's homeland.

In an Oct. 16 interview with Italy's Avvenire daily, Archbishop Dziwisz said he personally knew of "many miraculous healings" through Pope John Paul's intercession and believed the pontiff's beatification awaited "only official confirmation" by his successor.

Meanwhile, the chairman of a tribunal set up to cross-examine Polish beatification witnesses told the Catholic information agency KAI Oct.14 that he expected the work to be limited to "a few months only."

"I think the work should be done very quickly, so we don't waste time -- the priority should be to hear people who can really say a lot," said Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, whose tribunal begins work in Krakow Nov. 4 and will cover the years up to the late pontiff's 1978 election.

"We're talking about a life which was very harmonious and consciously devoted, from its first years, to God. It's an exceptional case, especially since Benedict XVI has dispensed with the five-year period from the death of a ... candidate to the start of (the) process. This has already speeded it up by at least five years."

John Paul II Day, declared by the Polish Parliament in July, included a Mass for the late pope and a collection by 100,000 volunteers to help a bishops' conference fund for poor students.

The Krakow Archdiocese unveiled plans for a new John Paul II Park at the former Solvay stone factory where then-Karol Wojtyla was a laborer during World War II. The park will include a hospice, museum and documentation center.

Meanwhile, city councilors in Warsaw announced plans for a monument, featuring eleven 50-foot sandstone columns, on the site of the pope's 1979 Mass in the capital's Pilsudski Square.

Several statues were dedicated to the pope, and John Paul II Day was marked nationwide by concerts, exhibitions and theatrical performances, as well as processions and prayer vigils.

In an exclusive prerecorded Polish TV interview, Pope Benedict paid tribute to his predecessor, whose beatification process was inaugurated by Rome May 13, and confirmed that he hoped to visit Poland in June.

Copyright (c) 2005 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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