Vatican Moves To Beatify John Paul II In May


The good news reached Maria Helena Pambo as she stood in line in St. Peter's Square to pray at the tomb of Pope John Paul II.

On a gloriously sunny afternoon, Pambo, 34, heard that the former pontiff is to be officially beatified this spring, barely six years after his death — the quickest anyone has been bestowed the honor in modern times. The Vatican announced Friday that his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, had approved the move.

""It's a day of joy and happiness,"" said Pambo, a nun from Peru. ""I never met John Paul II, but now that I live in Rome, every two or three days when I have some time off, I come to pray at his tomb. I ask him for help.""

Tens of thousands of her fellow devotees are expected to converge on the square May 1, the first Sunday after Easter, for the beatification ceremony. Replete with religious pomp and fervor, the event is expected to be a morale booster for an institution beleaguered by accusations of silence and duplicity in its handling of thousands of allegations of priestly abuse.

John Paul's elevation was set after Benedict certified the findings of a panel charged with verifying a miracle ascribed to the late pontiff, a prerequisite for beatification, which is an intermediate step toward sainthood.

Church-appointed investigators concluded that a French nun was miraculously cured of Parkinson's disease after praying to John Paul within weeks of his death on April 2, 2005. He had suffered from the same ailment.