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Santo subito

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Pope Benedict XVI announced his decision to open the cause for beatification and canonization of Pope John Paul II at a May 13 gathering of priests of the Diocese of Rome. The priests greeted the news with enthusiastic and prolonged applause. That sign of joy reverberated throughout the Catholic world as the news spread.

Pope John Paul II’s episcopal motto — “Totus Tuus” — defined his life. That Latin expression — “All yours” — referred to the pope’s deep devotion to Mary.

The fathers of the Church called Mary a “type” of the Church. The figure of Mary is an image of the Church and we refer to her as Mother of the Church. John Paul II expressed his love for Mary with the complete giving of himself for the Church, first as priest, then as bishop and finally as pontiff.

Our society needs witnesses of faith. He understood that need. The pope who proclaimed the most blesseds and saints in the history of the Church may soon end up being recognized as among the great witnesses of the faith himself.

The example of Christian life he gave — a life of faithfulness, sacrifice and prayer — deserves to be held up as a beacon for future generations.

At John Paul II’s funeral Mass, the faithful sent a loud and clear message to the cardinals, one of whom was to become the next pope. “Santo subito!” (“sainthood immediately!”) they declared. A little over a month later, Pope Benedict XVI heeded that request, one that came from the “sensus fidelium” of the people of God.

John Paul II’s papacy has left an indelible mark in the Church. His personal charism endeared him to the millions who interacted with him.

What is more, his extensive writings contributed greatly to the Magisterium of Church, particularly in his implementation of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. One day perhaps, John Paul II will join the other two popes who are saints and doctors of the Church being proclaimed St. John Paul the Great, pope and doctor of the Church.

It may happen earlier than you think.

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