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John Paul to be beatified in May
Pope John Paul II celebrates Mass at Westminster Cathedral with Cardinal Basil Hume and Scottish Cardinal Joseph Gray during his pastoral visit to Britain in 1982
BY SIMON CALDWELL
POPE JOHN PAUL II is be beatified in the spring after Vatican investigators ruled that the inexplicable healing of a French nun from Parkinson’s disease was a miracle.
The late Roman pontiff will be declared Blessed by his friend and successor, Pope Benedict XVI, during a Mass in St Peter’s Square, Rome, on May 1, the Vatican has announced.
The ceremony will put the Polish pope just one miracle away from canonisation, with a second miracle needed to canonise him.
The event is likely to attract the biggest crowd seen at St Peter’s since his funeral six years ago, with two million people expected to flock to Rome.
The fastest beatification on record –
beating Mother Teresa’s by just a few days – it will be seen as swift recognition of the sanctity of a man hailed as one of the greatest figures of the 20th century.
John Paul’s Cause was placed on a fast track by Pope Benedict following a global outpouring of grief over his death on April 2 2005, with chants of “santo subito!” or “sainthood immediately!” erupting at his funeral.
Soon afterwards Sister MarieSimon-Pierre Normand, a nun in her late 40s, claimed she had been healed from an aggressive onset of Parkinson’s after praying to John Paul.
Her community in Arles, France, prayed to the pope, who had suffered the disease himself, for the nun to be cured. The nun, who had found walking, driving and writing nearly impossible, later told investigators that she woke up completely healed after writing John Paul’s name on a piece of paper the previous evening.
Vatican medics and theologians have scrutinised the healing “scrupulously” and approved it in mid-December.
The Vatican announced last week that Pope Benedict had authorised the beatification and that he will carry it out himself. Benedict XVI does not normally celebrate beatifications, usually delegating them to other senior Vatican officials. He has so far made just one exception to this rule when he travelled to Birmingham in September to beatify Blessed John Henry Newman, whom he has admired throughout his adult life.
The decision to beatify John Paul II was welcomed by senior Church figures around the world. Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, John Paul’s longtime secretary and friend, expressed “huge thanks” to Benedict XVI for the decree.
“We are happy today,” he said. “We are happy that this process came to an end, that what people asked for – santo subito – was fulfilled,” the cardinal said. “I express great joy on behalf of the entire diocese of Kraków – and I think I am also authorised to express this on behalf of all of Poland.”
In Britain Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, president of the bishops’ conference of England and Wales, said: “I warmly welcome the news that Pope John Paul II is to be beatified. Pope John Paul II is held in great affection by Catholics and people of good will in England and Wales.
“So many people here remember with great affection his visit to us in 1982. We also thank God for the powerful witness of his life and teaching, as well as the astonishing example he gave in suffering and death. His heavenly intercession will be sought by many.”
Fr Marcus Stock, the general secretary of the bishops’ conference, said the choice of the First Sunday after Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, for the beatification ceremony carried “much significance”.
“Pope John Paul II put Divine Mercy at the centre of his spiritual life, his apostolic testimony and his teaching,” he said. “It was also on the eve of this Sunday in 2005 that he surrendered his soul to the infinite mercy of his Lord and Saviour.”
Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow also expressed his delight.
“Most of my time as a bishop was spent under the pontificate of Pope John Paul II,” he said. “I was hugely privileged to meet him on many occasions and was always struck by his deep devotion and wonderful humanity. I am not alone in having described him as ‘John Paul the Great’ in the years following his death, and I am sure that conviction is shared by millions round the world.
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Benedict XVI The Spiritual Masters two new beautifully illustrated hardback volumes Pope Benedict’s talks on 25 key Catholic writers from the first millennium and from medieval times
New Mass translation is coming in September, bishops announce
BY MARK GREAVES
PARISHES in England and Wales will start using the new translation of the Order of Mass in September, it was announced this week.
The bishops’ conference said the translation would be introduced three months before the full Roman Missal is published in Advent. It will provide an opportunity for “indepth catechesis on the Eucharist” and “renewed devotion in the manner of its celebration”. The bishops confirmed that the new Missal was complete and that the Holy See had given its recognitio.
They announced the launch of a DVD and a website, Missal.org.uk, to prepare Catholics for the transition.
The Order of Mass that will be introduced in September consists of the constant parts of the liturgy such as the Kyrie, the Credo, the penitential rite and the Eucharistic prayer.
Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds, chairman of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, which drafted the new translation, said it offered “a tremendous opportunity for the Church in England and Wales to learn about our faith and the Mass”.
He said the new text was “a great gift to the Church”. The bishop said: “The Mass is at the heart of what the Church is, it is where we deepen our faith in Christ and are nourished by him so that we can glorify the Lord by our lives. In the new translation we find a text that is more faithful to the Latin text and therefore a text which is richer in its theological content and allusions to the scriptures but also a translation which, I believe, will move people’s hearts and minds in prayer.”
The bishop said he hoped that a DVD, Become One Body One Spirit in Christ, would help people “uncover the riches that the Eucharist offers us”.
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A D H E 2 0 1 1
Protestant to lead pontifical academy
Rock star says he considered priesthood
BY STAFF REPORTER
THE POPE has asked a retired professor from Switzerland to head the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, becoming the first Protestant to lead the Vatican’s science council.
The Vatican press office reported on Saturday the appointment of Werner Arber, a former microbiology professor from the University of Basle.
Professor Arber was born in Granichen, Switzerland, in 1929.
A molecular biologist, he received the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1978 together with Hamilton Smith and Daniel Nathans, for the discovery of restriction endonucleases. The development of recombinant DNA technology is based on their work.
Professor Arber’s main scientific interests are the mechanisms that promote and limit the spontaneous variation of genetic information in microorganisms.
BY DAVID V BARRETT
AMERICAN rock musician Jack White of the White Stripes duo might have been a priest instead.
In an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour White compared the calling to be a priest to that of being a musician.
Born John Gillis, the guitarist, pianist and vocalist grew up in a Catholic family. His parents both worked for the Archdiocese of Detroit, his mother as the cardinal’s secretary, and he was an altar boy. “I was thinking at the time, at 14, that possibly I might have had the calling to be a priest,” he said.
“Blues singers and people who are singing on stage sort of have the same feelings and emotions that someone who is called to be a priest might have, I think. At the time I thought, well, maybe I need to give myself a chance to play music while I’m a teenager.”
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