On Friday, July 5, 2013, Pope Francis authorized the promulgation of a decree from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, declaring a second miracle attributable to the intercession of Blessed Pope John Paul II. While speculation regarding the second miracle abounds, all that we know for certain at this point is that it occurred either on or shortly after May 1, 2011—the day of the beatification of Pope John Paul II.
While most media reports assumed that the approval of the second miracle amounted to approval of canonization of the late Polish pope, there is still at least one more step in the process: a consistory of cardinals, which will consider the cause of canonization. It is possible, though not likely, that the consistory will decline to recommend canonization. Even if that were to happen, Pope Francis could (and likely would) authorize canonization anyway.
The beatification of Pope John Paul II caused consternation among two radically different groups of Catholics: certain traditionalists, who were upset by certain action of the pope during his reign; and dissenters on the left, who found John Paul's firm orthodoxy on moral issues unacceptable in their "enlightened" vision of a church that conforms to the dissolute morality of the modern age. Lost in both cases was the sense of joy that we all should have when the Church tells us that a man is assuredly in Heaven. Whatever any of us may thought about Pope John Paul II, desiring him to be somewhere other than Heaven is a sin against charity (to put it mildly).
"Beatification," Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., writes in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, "allows veneration of the blessed, canonization requires it." Should Blessed John Paul II be raised to the full honors of the altars, every Catholic, including those who disliked the late pope for whatever reason, must accord him the honor that belongs to all of those who, having run the course of their earthly lives in fidelity to Christ, now enjoy the beatific vision. To refuse to do so says nothing about any failings of the late pope, and everything about our own failings to trust the judgment of the Church.
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(A portrait of the Polish Pope John Paul II (1920-2005), born Karol Wojtyla, Boston, Massachussetts, 1979. Photo by Bachrach/Getty Images)