A rush toward sainthood for John Paul II?

ContributedVATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI has recognized a miracle attributed to Pope John Paul II, bringing the late pontiff one step from sainthood a mere six years after his death, the Vatican announced on Friday (Jan. 14).

By signing a decree accepting the miracle, Benedict completed one of most rapid beatifications in the modern history of the Catholic Church. Another miracle attributed to John Paul’s intercession will be required before he can be declared a saint.

The process leading to beatification and sainthood ordinarily does not begin until at least five years after death. But during John Paul’s funeral in April 2005, crowds repeatedly called out “santo subito!” (Italian for “a saint at once!"). Benedict waived the required waiting period less than two months later.

“From a strictly PR point of view this is a big gamble for the Vatican,” said John L. Allen, Jr., senior correspondent for the U.S.-based National Catholic Reporter. “John Paul was obviously a wildly popular pope and this could be a way to revive memories of his bold, self-confident style.”

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