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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pope John Paul II: From Blessings to Blessed

Pope John XXIII (Photo by Pivari)
In so many ways, John Paul II was an extraordinary pope.  Not only did he speak 13 languages (including Esperanto), but he also canonized 483 saints and beatified 1340 people.

In the Roman Catholic Church, beatification (from the Latin Beatus or Beata meaning “Blessed”) is one step shy of the full
recognition of sainthood (canonization).  Beatification asserts that the Blessed person has been saved and is now in heaven.  That person has either been a proven martyr for the faith, or has successfully prayed for a miracle to occur (intercession).       Amongst those whom John Paul II beatified were two other
popes: Pius IX and John XXIII (both on September 3, 2000).

Pope Pius IX reigned for almost 32 years – from June 1846 until his death in February 1878.  In August 2000, listed some of these highlights from Pius IX’s tenure:  He promulgated two of Catholicism’s triumphal doctrines— the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary and papal infallibility.  He pioneered the papal personality movement that John Paul II embodies so brilliantly. Many historians
believe he created the modern papacy.  However, there are many who regret some of his legacy.  Although Pius IX began with quite a liberal papacy, he became increasingly conservative.  His Syllabus of Errors denounced separation of church and state, and helped to foster a longstanding belief that “the church was opposed to democracy in every way.”

John XXIII was almost 77 years old when he became pope in October 1961.  Within a reign of less than five years, he called the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) and issued the Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) encyclical – both of which have been instrumental in furthering church unity, interfaith harmony, and human rights.  Although Pope John XXIII died fairly soon after Vatican II began, it was he who set its groundbreaking tone.  He did live to complete Pacem in Terris, which urges cooperation between nations and individuals, between Catholics and non-Catholics, and amongst nations.

Pope John Paul II, who had beatified so many, was himself recently beatified by Pope Benedict XVI.  He, too, is now one of the Blessed.


Copyright May 18, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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