VATICAN CITY, JAN. 18, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes says that Pope John Paul II’s sanctity rested on two pillars: faith in the presence of God and a missionary spirit.
This was the conviction expressed by Cardinal Angelo Amato to L’Osservatore Romano, in an interview about the May 1 beatification of the Polish Pontiff.
He spoke of two essential attitudes embodied in John Paul II.
“The first is great faith in the presence of God in history, because the Incarnation is important, effective and conquers evil: The grace of the Eucharistic presence of the Lord overcomes all the barriers and anti-human regimes,” the cardinal said. He recalled how the Polish Pope had to live through Nazi and Communist regimes, seeing “the implosion and destruction of both.”
“The second attitude is his great missionary spirit,” Cardinal Amato continued. “The Pope’s journeys were true and proper missionary activity. He reached the confines of the earth to proclaim the Gospel of Christ.”
Speedy but sure
The cardinal also commented on the course of the cause of beatification. He spoke of its quick progression, initiated when Benedict XVI “immediately granted the dispensation of the five years prescribed,” so that the cause “began almost immediately after the death of John Paul II.” It went on to proceed quickly, he said, because of “a sort of preferential passage: having made the exception, the cause was without a list of others waiting in front of it, so that it could proceed without the impediment of other procedures under way.”
The Vatican official affirmed there was utmost care in the case, carried out with “great solicitude, great professionalism on the part of the postulation,” so that on Dec. 19, 2009, Benedict XVI was able to sign the decree on the heroic virtues.” Cardinal Amato added that the examination of the miracle “was studied with great care, I would say with fastidiousness, also because there was great media pressure about this.”
“The doctors, whether French or Italian, in no way sped up the time, and subjected everything to in-depth examination,” he affirmed. “We gave the same liberty to our medical consultation, so that the experts could proceed according to their conscience and their science.”
Hence, the prefect declared, “The speed of the cause was not at the expense of accuracy and of the procedural course, or of professionalism in presenting the personage. After all, the reputation of sanctity was so widespread and established that our task was made easy.”
Cardinal Amato suggested that the faithful did not exercise “pressure” but rather “support.”
“The ‘sensum fidelium’ is what we call, in technical terms, the reputation of sanctity and the signs, which are indispensable for a cause,” he explained.
“‘Saint immediately’ [what the crowds chanted as soon as the Pope died] is a good thing, but it must be ‘sure saint,’ because haste does not bear good fruits,” Cardinal Amato added.
String of saints
The cardinal proposed that this first time for a Pontiff to beatify his predecessor in the last 10 centuries is a sign “of continuity, not only in the magisterium, but also in personal sanctification.”
“However, in the last two centuries we have a series of Bishops of Rome whose sanctity has been recognized, even if in different degrees: Pius X, Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I. Pontiffs who have passed the testimony not only of the magisterium and of the guidance of the Church, but also of the example of sanctification,” he noted.
Asked about a personal memory of John Paul II, Cardinal Amato recounted his “great sense of friendship, of respect.”
“He chose me as secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” the cardinal remembered. “I was ordained bishop by him on Jan. 6, 2003: There were 12 of us, the last to receive episcopal ordination from Pope Wojtyla. I met him every month, as secretary of the Doctrine of the Faith, as requested by the then Cardinal Ratzinger, who was my direct superior. And John Paul II listened for a long time, he always listened.
“The thing that struck me most was his capacity to listen. We spoke, he listened. And only later, when we saw one another again at lunch, would he make his observations. His desire to understand in-depth was evident.”