John Paul II's Process Must Follow the Steps, Says Official

Cardinal Saraiva Martins Cites 5-Year Wait

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 3, 2005 (Zenit.org).- People long perceived the holiness of Pope John Paul II, but “we must wait for the official declaration” by the Church in the cause of canonization, says a Vatican official.

Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, is happily surprised by the popular acclamation of John Paul II’s sanctity, heard during the April 8 papal funeral with cries of “santo subito” (sainthood now!).

But he explained: “We must wait five years after his death, unless Pope Benedict XVI establishes a dispensation for the start of the process.”

“However,” the cardinal added, “the dispensation does not affect the process as such, which doesn’t change.”

The cardinal made these comments Monday in Rome, when presenting the book “I Santi e Karol” (The Saints and Karol) by Fabio Zavattaro, Vatican correspondent for Italian public television channel RAI.

Interviewed by ZENIT on John Paul II’s process of canonization, Cardinal Saraiva Martins said he favored “respecting the times established, finding all the documentation, and doing things step by step.”

“I think John Paul II would have liked it to be this way, with the established times,” he said at the headquarters of the Roman Work for Pilgrimages, after the presentation of the book.

Regarding miracles, Cardinal Saraiva Martins explained that “a miracle is the seal with which God guarantees that a person is with God and that God is with that person, in communion.”

“For this reason, a miracle realized in life is not valid for the process of canonization; it must be realized after death,” he said.

There are forms available which may be signed by anyone who believes John Paul II is a saint.

“We saw an extremely moved crowd crying out ‘sainthood now!’; we will have to begin with individual statements,” he said.

The cardinal noted that “with Karol Wojtyla, holiness has become universal” and he reminded his listeners that to be a saint “is to do ordinary things extraordinarily well.”

The prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes observed that John Paul II was aware of the criticism over the great number of saints and blessed he proclaimed. However, the cardinal said, if the Church recognizes them it is because they exist. He noted that the 20th century was “the one that produced the most martyrs in Christian history.”

He denied that his Vatican congregation was a “saint factory.”

“The Pope does not make saints, nor does the Vatican dicastery that I have the honor to preside over,” the cardinal said. “The Church declares them saints and the Pope proclaims them; saints are not made, one becomes a saint.”

Bishop Renato Boccardo, secretary-general of Vatican City State, also spoke at the meeting, mentioning two key convictions of John Paul II: “In the first place, men need models to imitate; in the second place, it is also possible to be a saint today.”

Zavattaro’s book, “The Saints and Karol,” has been published in Italian and Polish so far. Other language editions are being considered.

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