INSIDE THIS ISSUE
FIVE PAGES OF PHOTOS AND REPORTS FROM THE BEATIFICATION OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
May 6 2011 £1.50 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)
Blessed are you, John Paul II
A tapestry bearing a 1995 picture of Blessed Pope John Paul II hangs from St Peter’s Basilica’s Lodge of the Blessings during a solemn beatification celebration led by Pope Benedict XVI
FROM ANNA ARCO IN ROME
MORE than a million pilgrims converged on the Vatican for the beatification of Pope John Paul II on Sunday.
A huge cheer went up and flags were waved when Pope Benedict XVI declared his predecessor Blessed and a tapestry of John Paul II was unveiled from the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica. This was the second beatification Pope Benedict has performed and the first in St Peter’s Square. One Vatican official described the scene as a “sea of the faithful”.
The main avenue leading up to St Peter’s Square, the Via della Conciliazione, was packed with pilgrims by four in the morning, hoping for good spots. Tens of thousands of Poles had travelled to the Eternal City to watch the Polish pope move a step closer to canonisation. Red and white flags dominated the crowd, many of them with pictures of Blessed John Paul II attached to them, and Polish pilgrims sang songs while waiting for the Mass to begin. There were also large numbers of French and Spanish pilgrims and many Romans came out into the streets in honour of Blessed John Paul. A group of Iraqi Christians who were wounded in the October 31 attack on a Baghdad cathedral last year was also in the crowd, wearing matching boaters and waving an enormous Iraqi flag.
In his homily Pope Benedict held up his predecessor as an example and said he had saved the Church from what seemed to be an irreversible tide of secularisation by opening the doors wide to Christ in political, economic, cultural and social systems. He also said the late pope had put the ideas of the Second Vatican Council into practice, addressing accusations by critics that he had been opposed to them.
He said: “Blessed are you, beloved Pope John Paul II, because you believed! Continue, we implore you, to sustain from heaven the faith of God’s people.”
By Monday morning over 250,000 pilgrims had entered the basilica to venerate the pope’s coffin, which was later placed in the altar of St Sebastian. The beatification was the high point of a three-day celebration of John Paul’s life and holiness. Many pilgrims had spent Saturday night sleeping in the streets of Rome in the hope of catching a glimpse of the ceremony, while others had spent all night awake in front of the Blessed Sacrament in adoration at eight churches around the centre of Rome following a prayer vigil in the Circus Maximus led by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the cardinal vicar of the Diocese of Rome and the postulator for Pope John Paul II’s Cause.
At the vigil pilgrims held coloured candles which glowed in the dusk while Dr Joaquín Navarro-Valls, the late pope’s director of communications, spoke of John Paul II’s legacy.
Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, the French nun whose miraculous cure from Parkinson’s disease provided the miracle which allowed the late pope to be beatified, spoke about her illness. Reports: Pages 1-4 Beatification homily: Page 5 Editorial comment: Page 13 Pastor Iuventus: Page 17
Vatican says it is wrong to rejoice over killing of Osama bin Laden BY ED WEST
CHRISTIANS should never rejoice at the death of a man, the Vatican has said following the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan on Sunday.
The world’s most wanted man was shot following a 40minute firefight with US special forces at his compound in Abbottabad, north-west Pakistan. His death followed a 10-year hunt for the mastermind of the September 11 attacks that killed about 3,000
people, and was greeted by wild scenes of jubilation in New York and Washington.
In a press conference at 9.30pm on Sunday US President Barack Obama announced that the Saudi-born fugitive and leader of al-Qaeda had been killed.
“Justice has been done,” the US President said.
Bin Laden’s death was welcomed by world leaders. Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The news that Osama bin Laden is dead will bring great relief to people across the world.”
But Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said in a statement that Christians should not rejoice at the death of a human being.
He said: “Osama bin Laden – as we all know – was gravely responsible for promoting division and hatred between peoples, causing the end of countless innocent lives, and of exploiting religions to this end. Faced with the death of a man, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibility of each and every one of us before God and before man, and hopes and commits himself so that no event be an opportunity for further growth of hatred, but for peace.”
Vatican missionary news agency Fides reported after the death that Christian schools and other buildings in Pakistan had closed amid fear of reprisals. Mary Kenny: Page 12
Seinfeld writer becomes Catholic
BY DAVID V BARRETT
ONE of the best known writers of American television comedies has converted to Catholicism.
Tom Leopold, who has written episodes of Seinfeld and Cheers, announced his conversion in Holy Week.
Describing himself as “a Jewish comedy writer” Mr Leopold said: “Come Easter
I’ll still be a comedy writer, but a Catholic one. I consider my upcoming baptism a blessing.”
Torn by the life-threatening illness of his daughter Mr Leopold asked God for a sign that he existed, saying: “I just can’t make it alone!” The next day, Christmas Day, a total stranger spoke to h im about coming to Christ.
Obamas say meeting Pope was a highlight
BY DAVID V BARRETT
MEETING Pope Benedict XVI with his family was one of the greatest thrills of his life, Barack Obama has said.
Interviewed on the daytime te levision programme The Oprah Winfrey Show last week the US President and his wife spoke about their best moments as a family since moving into the White House over two years ago. One of these, they said, was when they al l met Pope Benedict in Rome in July 2009, just six months into the presidency.
President Obama said that as they waited to meet Pope Benedict his daughters Malia and Sasha “were getting tired and they wanted to sit on the floor in the Sistine Chapel”.
Emilio Estevez From the Brat Pack to the Camino PAGE 7
Sister Janet Fearns Inside the original Red Box PAGE 9
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