Pope Benedict XVI beatifies Pope John Paul II
Beatification is the first major milestone on the path to possible sainthood, one of Catholic Church's highest honors...
Beatification is the first major milestone on the path to possible sainthood, one of the Catholic Church's highest honors. A second miracle attributed to John Paul's intercession is needed for him to be canonized.
What is Beatification?
Beatification is a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person's entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name (intercession of saints).
Beatification is the third of the four steps in the canonization process. A person who is beatified is given the title "Blessed". In earlier ages this honor was entirely local and passed from one diocese to another with the permission of their bishops.
Since the Catholic Church reform of 1983, one miracle must be proven to have taken place through the intercession of the person to be beatified, though this requirement is not necessary for those who died a martyr, as their sanctity is already evident because they were killed distinctly out of hatred for the faith ("odium fidei").
The feast day for the Blessed person is not universal, but is celebrated only in regions where the person receives particular veneration.
Pope John Paul II (16 October 1978 – 2 April 2005) markedly changed previous Catholic practice of beatification. By October 2004 he had beatified 1,340 people, more than the sum of all of his predecessors since Pope Sixtus V (1585–1590), who established a beatification procedure similar to that used today.
John Paul II's successor, Pope Benedict XVI, removed the custom of holding beatification rites in the Vatican with the Pope presiding; they can now be held in the location where the subject lived with the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints designated to preside over the ceremony as Papal Delegate.
This does not preclude the Pope himself presiding, as happened on Sunday 19 September 2010, when Benedict XVI beatified John Henry Newman in Cofton Park Birmingham on the last day of his visit to the United Kingdom.
And as of now Pope Benedict XVI beatified Pope John Paul II before more than a million faithful in St. Peter's Square and surrounding streets Sunday, moving the beloved former pontiff one step closer to possible sainthood.
The crowd in Rome and in capitals around the world erupted in cheers, tears and applause as an enormous photo of a young, smiling John Paul was unveiled over the loggia of St. Peter's Basilica and a choir launched into hymn long associated with the Polish-born pope.
"He restored to Christianity its true face as a religion of hope," Benedict said in his homily, referring to John Paul's decisive role in helping bring down communism. Benedict dotted his remarks with personal recollections of a man he came to "revere" during their near-quarter century working together.
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