John Paul's Suffering Highlighted In Beatification

Pope John Paul II’s beatification on Sunday may draw as many as a million people to Rome. Well over that number came six years ago when John Paul died, many of them clamoring “Santo Subito!” or make him a saint immediately.

It has not been immediate, although it could have been, had Pope Benedict wanted to proceed that way. Benedict opted against the super-fast track.But things moved awfully quickly once Benedict waived the normal five-year waiting period before the process can begin (something that was also done, by John Paul II, in the case of Mother Teresa).

While people of various persuasions on the Catholic spectrum – mostly left, but a few right and center — may be opposed to an official declaration of “Blessed” John Paul, no one should be surprised at the speed.

One thing you notice when you’re traveling with the Pope is that you never hear this announcement on the plane: “We’re currently tenth in line and we expect to be taking off in about 20 minutes.” Popes do get special treatment.

And the overwhelming outpouring of affection for John Paul at his death was a sign that he had stood out from the rest of the crowd of would-be saints.

So do others with a widespread reputation for holiness. Mother Teresa’s beatification moved roughly at the same speed as John Paul’s but no one – with the exception of professional bad-boy Christopher Hitchens – blinked an eye.

So despite a huge backlog of cases at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, John Paul’s dossier did not sit at the bottom of a pile for years and years. And that’s understandable.

Some of the opposition of to the beatification has been purely ideological, such as Maureen Dowd complaining that Dorothy Day, one of the founders of the Catholic Worker movement, is not yet Blessed Dorothy.