| 1/15/2011 6:11 AM
Registered in: 11/23/2005
MERCY LINKS JOHN PAUL II LIFE, DEATH, BEATIFICATION
Spokesman Reflects on Polish Pontiff's Legacy
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 14, 2011 (Zenit.org).- When Pope John Paul II is beatified on May 1, Divine Mercy Sunday, the faithful will be celebrating a day on which he himself wanted the Church to turn its gaze toward this "consoling and enthusiastic greatness."
This reflection was offered by Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, in reference to Benedict XVI's approval today of a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to the Polish Pope's intercession, and the subsequent announcement of the date of his beatification.
The Holy Father will be beatified on Divine Mercy Sunday, which this year falls on May 1, just six years after his April 2, 2005, death on the vigil of the same feast.
"His life and his pontificate were characterized by the passion to make known to the world in which he lived -- the world of our tragic history in the course of two millennia -- the consoling and enthusiastic greatness of God's mercy. This is what the world needs," Father Lombardi said. "That is why we will have the joy of celebrating the solemn beatification on the day in which he himself wanted the whole Church to fix her gaze and prayer on this Divine Mercy."
Father Lombardi spoke of John Paul II on the most recent edition of Vatican Television's "Octava Dies."
"The Church recognizes that Karol Wojtyla gave eminent and exemplary witness of Christian life, he is a friend and an intercessor who helps the people to direct themselves to God and to encounter him," he said.
Still, the Jesuit added, although John Paul II's works are extraordinary, "we are not concentrating our attention [there], but on his spiritual source: his faith, his hope, his charity."
Father Lombardi proposed the Holy Father's works should be admired "precisely because they are an expression of the depth and authenticity of his relationship with God, of his love for Christ and for all human persons, beginning with the poor and the weak; of his tender filial love for the Mother of Jesus."
The spokesman reflected that the Polish Pontiff's legacy is his "profound and prolonged recollection in prayer; his desire to celebrate and proclaim Jesus the Redeemer and Savior of man, to make him known and loved by young people and the whole world."
He will be remembered, the Jesuit added, "for his affectionate interest in the sick and the suffering, for his visits to peoples most in need of food and justice; finally, for his patient and authentic experience of personal suffering, of sickness lived in faith before God and before all of us."
Church leaders react to decreed beatification of John Paul II with ‘great joy’
Denver, Colo., Jan 14, 2011 / 08:02 pm (CNA).- Polish Catholic leaders reacted to the announcement of John Paul II’s beatification with enthusiasm and gratitude, praising the late Pope’s example to Poland and to the Church. The Archbishop of New York also reacted with “great joy” as he recalled memories of the Pope’s visits.
In a Jan. 14 audience Pope Benedict XVI approved the decree for the beatification of his predecessor. Doctors studied the miraculous healing of Sr. Marie Simon Pierre Normand and ruled it was “scientifically unexplainable.” Following approval from theologians and church officials, Pope Benedict promulgated the decree.
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, John Paul II’s longtime personal secretary, expressed the “great pleasure” of the entire Archdiocese of Krakow and of the entire Polish people. He expressed “a huge thank you” to Pope Benedict XVI for the decree confirming the miracle.
He invoked the Italian phrase “santo subito,” which roughly means “saint now.” It was a phrase on the lips of many of John Paul II’s mourners who wanted him declared a saint immediately after his death. This phrase has been “fulfilled,” the cardinal said in a statement from the archdiocese.
"For us, John Paul II is a patron and protector. The life of the Holy Father was our guide to the direction of the sovereignty and independence of our country."
“Today we need such a guide, because in today's world it is not easy,” he commented.
The Polish bishops reacted to the decree of beatification with “joy and hope,” the Archdiocese of Warsaw reported. Bishops’ spokesman Fr. Jozef Kloch called the announcement “good news,” as John Paul II was a role model both as a man and as a Christian.
Fr. Kloch voiced hope that his teachings will be remembered, as they can “unite us again” in what is important both for the Church and for Poland.
In Katowice, Poland the faithful gathered at 9 p.m. in the crypt of the Cathedral of Christ the King. They held a candlelight procession to the nearby statue of John Paul II and then returned to the cathedral for prayers.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York gave an American reaction to the beatification announcement on his blog “The Gospel in the Digital Age.”
The announcement of John Paul II’s beatification is “an occasion of great joy and grace,” he wrote. Archbishop Dolan recalled the Pope’s three visits to New York.
“In so many ways we consider him to have been an honorary citizen of what he famously referred to as ‘The Capital of the World’,” the archbishop said. He recalled the late pontiff’s visits to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, his celebrations of Mass in Yankee Stadium in Central Park, his visit to St. Charles Borromeo Church in Harlem and to St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers.
These visits are “still fresh in our minds,” Archbishop Dolan continued. He recounted stories from people across the globe whose eyes “still sparkle with grateful memories.”
He said that those who had the chance to meet John Paul II felt that “that for those moments he was focused completely and totally on you, and that he truly saw in you a reflection of the image and likeness of God.”
The New York archbishop asked for prayers that John Paul II will soon be raised to the altars and be declared a blessed and eventually a saint of the Church.
John Paul II’s beatification was approved for May 1, 2011, Divine Mercy Sunday.
[Edited by benefan 1/15/2011 6:16 AM]
| 1/21/2011 5:28 AM
Registered in: 11/23/2005
LAYING DOWN ONE'S LIFE FOR THE POPE
Memories of a Former Bodyguard of John Paul II
By Edward Pentin
ROME, JAN. 20, 2011 (Zenit.org).- For 12 years, retired Swiss Guard Captain Roman Fringeli was fully trained and prepared to lay down his life for the Pope.
Between 1987 and 1999, he protected the soon-to-be Blessed John Paul II as one of his five personal bodyguards on papal trips -- a period of duty that involved 15 apostolic voyages to Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas.
For three and a half of those years, Fringeli led the Swiss Guard contingent when John Paul travelled abroad. "If the circumstances were such, I would sacrifice myself for the Pope," he recalled. "This was always my thinking during the trips."
Originally from Basel in northern Switzerland, Fringeli left the ancient pontifical army over 10 years ago. But his enthusiasm remains and he is eager to share his happy -- and sometimes agonising -- experiences of those momentous visits.
He vividly recalls struggling to keep back a lunging crowd in Nairobi, shouting at the military in Mozambique to prevent a mass of people from getting too close to the Pope, and facing the daunting task of protecting the Pope in front of a million-strong crowd of faithful in Seoul.
"I remember in Rwanda, during Mass, we had a warning of an airborne terrorist attack," he said. "Can you imagine? And that was just four years before the genocide that took place there."
On another papal trip he was with the Pope on an old chartered plane as it made three aborted landing attempts in Lesotho because of fog. After diverting to Johannesburg, the papal party drove the five hours to Lesotho only to arrive to the sound of gunfire as special forces rescued a group of hostages. Pope John Paul II, in the capital Maseru to beatify the missionary priest Joseph Gérard, afterward visited some of the wounded in hospital. "That was a special trip, terrible -- John Paul II wanted to offer a message of peace and that happens," Fringeli recalled.
But perhaps his most disturbing visit was to Berlin in 1996. Anarchists protested wildly, throwing missiles at thePopemobile while others paraded naked as the Pope went past. "Suddenly, these crazy people started throwing the red balloons filled with paint at the windows of the popemobile," remembered Fringeli who was standing at the back of the Pope's vehicle, trying to ward the protesters off. "I was ashamed of Germany for what happened -- the police allowed the crowd to get too close to the popemobile and I told them to keep them away."
Benedict XVI will visit Berlin in September and some are concerned the same scenario might be repeated. "You never know with Berlin," Fringeli said. "You can expect crazy people, [but] the Pope is from Germany so that might help and it depends, maybe the police will do a better job of controlling the crowds." He said he was surprised that the German police seemed to be afraid to stop the crowd. "They didn't want to touch them, especially in Paderborn [the Pope's stop prior to Berlin] -- in Africa they used sticks to keep them away."
But in Africa, he found local security could be too tough. On John Paul II's 1995 trip to Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, he remembers seeing a mentally unstable man who had wandered in front of the popemobile. The police picked him up by his legs, let him drop to the ground "like a sack of potatoes" and then hurled him into the crowd. Fringeli still appears disturbed by it, calling it "terrible" and "a scandal."
No gun, no vest
Vatican protection for the Pope on papal trips has traditionally been provided by two plain clothed Swiss Guards, a captain and a corporal, and three Vatican Police. The rest of the protection is given over to local authorities who usually offer the Vatican security detail the use of a car.
During his period of service, Fringeli didn't wear a bullet proof jacket -- it would have been too heavy and "my protection was my body," he said. Nor did he carry a weapon. "What can you do with guns and a crowd?" he said. "You would kill many people, and the same applies here in St. Peter's Square basilica or at an audience."
Instead, he relied mostly on his eyesight and personal fitness. The former Swiss Guard showed me a photo of him dressed in a dark suit, walking next to John Paul II on a visit to Romania and squinting, his eyes trained on the surrounding crowds. "I'm always scanning around, looking for a sudden movement, someone running or jumping over the barricades," he said. "That was my task."
I asked him what he thought of the security breach in St. Peter's basilica during Midnight Mass in 2009, when a woman vaulted over the barriers, grabbed the Pope's cassock, and pulled him to the ground, taking some of the procession with him.
"You need to know that this happens in a split second," he said. "Normally it's the responsibility of the person on that side of the Pope, but it happened too quickly." Fringeli said he didn't want to teach others what to do, but instead of putting himself onto the woman, he would have tried to block her and keep her away. "It's a mistake to put yourself onto the person as there's a risk you'll take the Pope down with you, which is what happened." However, he insisted Vatican security is "very good" and better equipped than in his day.
Naturally, he has many fond memories of the late Pontiff, and is delighted at the news of his beatification. "For me John Paul II was a holy Pope -- as all popes of the last two or three centuries have been," he said. He stressed how John Paul II always said he was protected by Our Lady and that he put his survival from the attempt on his life in 1981 down to her intervention.
"He was a messenger for peace," he said. "Some have said it would have been better if he had stayed at the Vatican more and not travelled so much, but for the Pope these weren't exciting trips -- they had an intense schedule [that] lasted the whole day." And he remembered how some people walked for days from Zambia to Zimbabwe just to see him. John Paul II's 104 trips outside Italy, he said as a reminder, were also for those people, especially in poor countries, who would probably never make it to Rome.
Fringeli fondly recalled how John Paul II would always make a point of thanking his security staff at the end of each trip. In his younger days, however, Pope John Paul II's propensity for making spontaneous walkabouts did not always endear him to his bodyguards. "It wasn't always easy travelling with the Pope because you didn't know what he wanted to do that was outside of the programme," said the former Swiss Guardsman. "But experience helps you very much."
As for himself, Fringeli said that despite the demands of papal travel, he always found them deeply satisfying and his enthusiasm never waned. "It was strange," he said. "During the trip you'd get tired but at the end of it, I'd always be thinking: 'What could the next one be?' It was like a drug."
And he paid tribute to two key figures connected with the apostolic voyages: Cardinal Roberto Tucci, the longtime trip organizer whom he called "a great, great man," and Camillo Cibin, the late Vatican Police bodyguard, who continued to protect the Pontiff until he was 80.
"Without both of them," he said, "the Pope wouldn't have been able to make a trip."
| 2/1/2011 5:53 AM
Registered in: 11/23/2005
Lodging in Rome snapped up for John Paul II's beatification
Rome, Italy, Jan 31, 2011 / 02:04 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Rome is already bracing for the impact of the many pilgrims who will converge on St. Peter's for the May 1 beatification of Pope John Paul II.
Sleeping space in religious communities across the city - around 15,000 beds - was booked up within a day of the Jan. 14 announcement.
The Domus Aurelia hotel run by the Emmanuel Community has been reserved "since literally two minutes after the announcement," said Lorenzo Amico, who was working the hotel desk at the time. The hotel is located a short way from St. Peter's on foot
Two large groups made the reservations, filling the facility to capacity for an entire week.
"We've received calls continuously since then," Amico told CNA during a Jan. 31 phone conversation. "Even though the entire area is completely full, they keep on calling."
Rooms in hotels around the Vatican were snatched up quickly and those vacancies that remain are in establishments further from St. Peter's. They are priced at more than double - and even triple - normal rates, according to local media reports.
On top of the traffic the beatification will be bringing to the streets of the Eternal City, on May 1 Italy observes a national Day for Workers holiday. The annual celebration is marked by a concert in the square just outside the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
This year, the nationally-televised event that draws around 200,000 young people every year, just happens to fall on Divine Mercy Sunday.
The grand occasions are likely to give Rome a similar feel to the last Vatican event of this magnitude, John Paul II's funeral in 2005. According to the Italian Department of Civil Protection, more than three million people were present for that event.
The city is already organizing itself for the possibility of more than a million visitors. It has a special "operating room" in place as it prepares for an onslaught of pilgrims from all over the world - whether they have a place to stay or not.
With the preliminary decision that no tickets will be issued to pilgrims for the celebration, the weekend is sure to be a long one out in the open for some.
| 2/8/2011 4:32 PM
Registered in: 11/23/2005
Rome Diocese launches site dedicated to John Paul II's beatification
By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service
Feb. 8, 2011
ROME (CNS) -- The Diocese of Rome launched a new website dedicated to the beatification and canonization of Pope John Paul II.
Published in seven languages, the site -- www.karol-wojtyla.org
-- offers news updates and background information on the late pope and his sainthood cause, as well as a live webcam of his tomb in the grotto of St. Peter's Basilica.
The website also announced that the beatification ceremony in St. Peter's Square May 1, Divine Mercy Sunday, will be open to the public and no tickets will be required to attend.
The evening before the ceremony, April 30, there will be a prayer vigil at Rome's ancient Circus Maximus racetrack, it said.
The website offers the diocesan-approved prayer asking for graces through the intercession of Pope John Paul in 31 languages, including Chinese, Arabic, Russian and Swahili.
A miracle after Pope John Paul's beatification would be needed for his canonization, which is a church declaration that the person is a saint and worthy of universal veneration.
On Jan. 14, Pope Benedict XVI approved a first miracle attributed to the late pope's intercession, clearing the way for his beatification.
The approval came after more than five years of investigation into the life and writings of the Polish pontiff, who died in April 2005 after more than 26 years as pope.
| 2/18/2011 3:17 PM
Registered in: 11/27/2005
COMMUNIQUE CONCERNING BEATIFICATION OF JOHN PAUL II
VATICAN CITY, 18 FEB 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today.
"The beatification of Servant of God Pope John Paul II will be a major ecclesial event divided into the following five stages:
"A preparatory vigil organised by the diocese of Rome will take place at the Circus Maximus on the evening of Saturday 30 April (preparation from 8.30 to 9 p.m., vigil from 9 to 10.30 p.m.), organised by the diocese of Rome which had the Venerable Servant of God as its bishop. The vigil will be led by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, His Holiness' vicar general for the diocese of Rome, while the Holy Father Benedict XVI will be spiritually present through video linkup.
"The beatification ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. on Sunday 1 May in St. Peter's Square, presided by the Holy Father. Participation in the event does not require a ticket, although access to the Square and surrounding areas will be regulated by the police.
"The veneration of the remains of the new blessed will be possible for all faithful, beginning immediately after the beatification ceremony on Sunday 1 May. The remains of the new blessed will remain exposed for veneration in front of the Altar of the Confession in the Vatican Basilica for as long as the faithful continue to arrive.
"A Mass of thanksgiving is scheduled to take place in St. Peter's Square at 10.30 a.m. on Monday 2 May, presided by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.
"The interment of the remains of the new blessed in the Chapel of St. Sebastian in the Vatican Basilica will take place privately".
| 2/26/2011 7:48 PM
Registered in: 6/26/2010
Why Rome Loves John Paul
Romans recall fond memories of their bishop and look forward to May 1 beatification.
Share BY JOHN THAVIS (CNS) 02/25/2011 Comments (6)
BELOVED BISHOP. Pope John Paul II waves to well-wishers in St. Peter’s Square in 1978, not long after his election as the 263rd successor to Peter.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — With more than a million people expected to descend on Rome for Pope John Paul II’s beatification May 1, the event is being described as yet another pilgrim “invasion” of the Eternal City.
Because the beatification falls on a public holiday, some have predicted a massive exodus by Rome residents eager to escape the logistical problems caused by such a big crowd.
But Church officials say that Romans, in fact, may represent the biggest group at the beatification, for a very good reason: For them, Pope John Paul was not only a pope, but also a pastor.
The late Pope took the title “bishop of Rome” seriously, visiting the city’s parishes, prisons, schools, hospitals and soup kitchens. He even held an annual audience with Rome’s garbage collectors.
“John Paul II managed to get close to the Roman people, and he’s still very much present in their minds. Even Romans who were not great believers were touched by him,” said Giancarlo Distante, who works in a bookstore near the Vatican.
“Sure, it’s tempting to escape the city May 1. But I think the joy of seeing this man beatified is going to keep a lot of people here,” Distante said.
The Diocese of Rome has even organized its own special event, a prayer vigil the night before the beatification, which will take place in the open area that was once the ancient Circus Maximus. Hundreds of thousands are expected to attend.
When Pope John Paul II was elected in 1978, Romans flocked to St. Peter’s Square and were shocked to hear that a certain Karol Wojtyla would be the new pontiff — the first non-Italian pope in more than 450 years. But the new Pope quickly won the crowd over when he gave his first speech in Italian and invited people to correct him if he made any linguistic mistakes.
The Polish Pope worked hard to build bridges in Rome, carrying on with the pastoral work that he had enjoyed so much as archbishop of Krakow. In an effort to better know his flock, he visited more than 300 of Rome’s 334 parishes, providing every Roman neighborhood with moments of celebration and excitement.
Those visits were not limited to a papal Mass. Typically, the Pope met with parish groups, chatted with young people and toured the facilities. Romans had the sense that this Pope had come to learn about them as well as preach to them.
Pope John Paul met routinely with Rome city officials, and he did not hesitate to weigh in on social and moral problems. He often did so from places that had rarely, if ever, seen a pope: a Rome prison, for example, where prisoners served at the papal altar, read prayers and sang hymns.
He not only visited Rome’s homeless shelters and soup kitchens, but opened a 74-bed hostel for the poor inside the Vatican and, more than once, personally visited with people there.
His annual encounters with the street sweepers and garbage collectors near the Vatican never made headlines, but always gave Romans a sense that this Pope stood with the “little people.”
In 1998, Pope John Paul personally kicked off a city-wide evangelization campaign, knocking on the door of a fifth-floor apartment in Rome and casually visiting with the family that lived there.
In the neighborhood of Rome’s ancient Jewish ghetto, Pope John Paul’s photo still hangs in some shops. Residents there say they’ll never forget when he made history by visiting their synagogue in 1986.
Even more than with special groups, Pope John Paul made connections with a whole generation of young people in Rome. As Pope for more than 26 years, he hosted Roman schoolchildren on dozens of occasions at the Vatican, in encounters that often included song, dance and testimonies by the young. As he grew older and frailer, these meetings had a special poignancy.
When the Pope lay dying, Rome’s young people were the first to arrive in St. Peter’s Square. They came by the hundreds and then by the thousands, serenading and praying for the Pope beneath his window. Eventually they were joined by more than 3 million people who arrived in Rome for the Pope’s death and funeral.
Romans were proud of themselves in 2005 for absorbing and hosting such a huge crowd with little or no problem. They want to do the same for the beatification, but there are some unusual practical problems.
For one thing, May 1 is Europe’s “labor day” holiday, which means a shutdown of most businesses, shops, coffee bars, restaurants and public transportation. Store owners have already petitioned for an exemption from the closure rules and say if no permission is granted they may open anyway.
“Such a great mass of people cannot arrive here and find a city without services,” said Cesare Pambianchi, the president of Rome’s Confcommercio retailers’ association. “The image of Rome is at stake.”
| 2/28/2011 5:07 PM
Registered in: 11/23/2005
Rooms still available for Blessed John Paul II weekend
by Sara Angle
Catholic News Service
Posted on February 28, 2011
VATICAN CITY — Despite media reports that all affordable accommodations in Rome are booked for the May 1 beatification of Pope John Paul II, reasonable rates can still be found.
Various news outlets have reported that hostels, hotels and B&Bs are already booked for the beatification, and that prices are skyrocketing to 300 percent their normal rates for the big May weekend.
We found that a small percentage of Roman hoteliers do seem to be exploiting Catholics with sky-high prices that are many times the regular high season rates. For example, Hotel Locarno, a four-star hotel located just across the river from the Vatican, was charging €1,560 for three nights in a double room, three times their usual high-season price, according to their website. The website of Hotel Eurostars Roma said its rate was €133 a night for a standard double room two weekends prior to the beatification, but the price jumped to more than €600 a night for the May 1 weekend.
Easter is always one of the busiest times around the Vatican. Pope John Paul’s beatification comes a week afterward and more than a million pilgrims expected for the event. The demand for lodging is extremely high, but a search of hotels and B&Bs in Rome showed that there are more than 100 reasonably priced rooms available.
For example, B&B Vatican St. Peter, located just outside Vatican City, still had availability for the evening of May 1 at €90 a night for a double room.
As of Feb. 28, the average price for a three-star hotel room for the beatification weekend was around €250 a night, and a four-star hotel room was going for €350. Three- and four-star hotels with standard double rooms under €200 could still be found, and B&Bs in excellent locations had rooms and apartments for under €130.
For those still looking for accommodations for the event, here’s some advice to ensure that you are getting the best price:
1.) Look for locales further from the Vatican, especially across the Tiber River. Rome is easy to get around on foot and has excellent public transportation that can get you to St. Peter’s Square in no time.
2.) Don’t automatically rule out the option of staying at a B&B or renting an apartment for your stay in Rome. These can be some of the most charming places, affordable and full of character. Some require at least a four-night stay, so plan on some time to tour the Eternal City.
3.) Keep in mind that as of Jan.1, the Rome tourist tax for hotels is €1 -€3 per night, per person, for up to10 days, and must sometimes be paid in cash. Also check that other taxes are included in your room rate before booking, or ask what the final price with taxes will be.
4.) Once at your hotel, if the rate you are paying is higher than the maximum displayed tariff, which is listed on a sign posted in each room, you have a right to notify the police of the discrepancy.
5.) Consider staying in another city located outside of Rome and taking the train in to the city for the day. Rome’s main train station gives you access to a multitude of surrounding towns and trains run throughout the day.
| 3/15/2011 3:20 PM
Registered in: 11/27/2005
| This just dropped in; the only item in VIS today because of the Spiritual Exercises. I've found the Facebook page, but not seen the You Tube videos yet.
FACEBOOK AND YOUTUBE PAGES ON JOHN PAUL II BEATIFICATION
VATICAN CITY, 15 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office has published the following communique:
"In view of the beatification of John Paul II on 1 May 2011, Vatican Radio and the Vatican Television Centre (CTV) have organised a number of initiatives and made a wide range of documentary material available.
"A new page dedicated to John Paul II for his beatification has been activated on Youtube. The page is available at the following address: www.youtube.com/giovannipaoloii
and includes video clips on the pontificate year by year, as well as video clips with the Pope's voice in various languages and situations (on trips and in the Vatican).
"These are audio recordings supplied and selected by the language programmes of Vatican Radio, which have then been mounted onto video by CTV. The audio of the Pope will be in the original language in which it was pronounced, with English-language subtitles indicating the place (country), day, month and year of the event.
"The dedicated Youtube page - as well as the normal channel which has existed for some time in four languages www.youtube.com/vatican
- will be supplied with video clips of current events and information concerning the days of the beatification.
"A new page has also been activated on Facebook concerning John Paul II in view of his beatification. It may be consulted at this address: www.facebook.com/vatican.johnpaul2.
All the video clips uploaded to the Youtube channel will be available at the same time on this page.
"The aim is to diversify the instruments so as to give this initiative as great an exposure and as wide a coverage as possible. Unlike other initiatives already present on the Internet in various forms, initiatives by private individuals not associated with the Holy See, this carries the joint signatures of Vatican Radio and of the Vatican Television Centre, it has been agreed with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and is, of course, open to all users of Facebook.
"The general objective is to accompany the course of the beatification using the instruments technology makes available, making full use of the resources at our disposal and, at least in part, of the vast documentary archives held by Vatican Radio and the Vatican Television Centre".
| 3/29/2011 4:51 PM
Registered in: 11/23/2005
Rome expecting 300,000 for JPII beatification
By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
Mar. 29, 2011
ROME -- Church and local government organizers are planning to accommodate at least 300,000 people in St. Peter's Square and the surrounding area for Pope John Paul II's beatification Mass May 1.
Msgr. Liberio Andreatta, head of Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, the Vatican-related pilgrimage agency, told reporters March 29, "Rome is ready to welcome every pilgrim who wants to come. Earlier, newspapers published megalithic numbers and said every hotel is booked. That's not true."
Father Cesare Atuire of Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi said as soon as Pope Benedict XVI announced the beatification date, travel agents and others booked large blocks of hotel rooms. Now that the beatification is just a month away, they have a more precise idea of how many rooms they will need and so they are freeing up the extras.
In addition, he said, two campgrounds outside of Rome will be reserved for pilgrims who want to keep their costs to a minimum. The commuter trains, which usually do not run on weekends, will be on a special schedule to get them to the prayer vigil April 30 in Rome's Circus Maximus and to the Mass the next morning.
Because the pope is the bishop of Rome and the pilgrims will spend most of their time in Rome, not at the Vatican, the Diocese of Rome is responsible for much of the cost of the event, Msgr. Andreatta said.
The diocese is passing the collection basket to large Italian companies to come up with at least $1.7 million to cover the costs of handling 300,000 pilgrims for the beatification, Msgr. Andreatta said.
Although the city of Rome and its hotels, restaurants and shops will benefit financially from the pilgrims, Msgr. Andreatta said the financial crisis still weighing on Italy made the diocese look to donors instead of the local government for funding.
The money will cover building a stage and installing a sound system and lighting at the Circus Maximus, running extra buses, covering the cost of the bus and subway tickets included in the pilgrim's package, renting and erecting crowd-control barriers and renting dozens of large video screens.
The screens will be placed in the squares around the Vatican and in most of the churches in the historic center of Rome so that people who cannot get close to St. Peter's Square or would prefer to stay away from the crowds can still follow the Mass, he said.
An Italian beverage company has donated 1 million bottles of mineral water, he said, and a restaurant chain has donated the ingredients for thousands of box lunches.
Father Atuire said that as of March 29, the largest numbers of pilgrims were coming from Italy, then Pope John Paul's native Poland, followed by Spain and the United States.
Opera Romano Pellegrinaggi has launched a special website -- www.jpiibeatus.org
 -- to assist pilgrims with reservations and information. The information is available in five languages, including English.
| 4/3/2011 11:52 PM
Registered in: 11/27/2005
|2nd April 2005: POPE JOHN PAUL II WENT BACK TO THE FATHER'S HOUSE.
I can hardly believe that it was six years ago. Dear John Paul Karol,please pray for the wonderful, holy man who now bears the burden of the Papacy and pray for all the clergy who worked with you in the Vatican, especially the Polish ones. And pray for all of us.
| 4/5/2011 3:19 PM
Registered in: 11/27/2005
PROGRAM FOR THE BEATIFICATION OF JOHN PAUL II
FROM VIS NEWSLETTER TUESDAY 5TH APRIL 2011
VATICAN CITY, 5 APR 2011 (VIS) - This morning, a conference was held at the Holy See Press Office to present the preparations and the program for the beatification of John Paul II. The speakers were Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome; Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., director of Vatican Radio, the Vatican Television Centre (CTV) and the Holy See Press Office; Fr. Cesare Atuire, director general of Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi; Msgr. Marco Frisina, director of the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Vicariate of Rome; and Fr. Walter Insero, director of the Office of Social Communications of the Vicariate of Rome.
Cardinal Vallini presented the full program for the celebrations for the beatification, which he described as "strongly characterised by particular elements intended to emphasise the richness of John Paul II's personality, and the impact of his pontificate on the life of the diocese of Rome and on the whole world".
1. The Vigil, 30 April (Circus Maximus, 20.00 to 22.30).
The celebration will be divided into two parts. The first part will be dedicated to remembering the words and actions of John Paul II. There shall then be a solemn procession during which the image of Maria Salus Populi Romani will be enthroned; this shall be accompanied by representatives of all the parishes and chaplaincies of the diocese. Privileged accounts will be given by Joaquin Navarro-Valls and Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, both of whom worked closely with the Pope, and by Sr. Marie Simon-Pierre, whose miraculous recovery opened the way for the beatification process. This first part of the celebrations will be concluded with the hymn "Totus tuus", composed for the 50th anniversary of John Paul's priestly ordination.
The second part will focus on the celebration of the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary, which were introduced by John Paul II. After the hymn "Open the doors to Christ", Cardinal Vallini will give an introduction summarising the spiritual and pastoral character of John Paul II. The Rosary will then be recited, with a live connection to five Marian sanctuaries around the world. Each of the five Mysteries of the Rosary shall be linked to a prayer intention of importance to John Paul II. In the Sanctuary of Lagniewniki, Krakow, the prayer intention will take the theme of youth; in the Sanctuary of Kawekamo, Bugando, Tanzania, the family; in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lebanon, Harissa, evangelisation; in the Basilica of Sancta Maria de Guadalupe, Mexico City, hope and peace among peoples; and in the Sanctuary of Fatima, the Church.
To conclude the vigil, Benedict XVI shall recite the final oration and impart the apostolic blessing to all participants, in live transmission from the Apostolic Palace.
That night the following churches shall remain open for the oration: Sant' Agnese in Agone, Piazza Navona; San Marco al Campidoglio; Santa Anastasia; Santissimo Nome di Gesù all'Argentina; Santa Maria in Vallicella; San Giovanni dei Fiorentini; San Andrea della Valle; and San Bartolomeo all'Isola.
2. Mass of Beatification, 1 May, Sunday after Easter or of Divine Mercy (St. Peter's Square, 09.00: hour of preparation; 10.00: officiated by the Holy Father).
The solemn liturgy of beatification shall be preceded by an hour of preparation during which the faithful shall pray together the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, a devotion introduced by Saint Mary Faustina Kowalska and dear to the Blessed John Paul II. The preparation will conclude with an Invocation to Mercy in the world, with the hymn "Jezu ufam tobie". This will be followed by Mass, with the texts for the Sunday after Easter. At the end of the rite of beatification, the unveiling of the tapestry depicting the newly Blessed shall be accompanied by the Hymn to the Blessed in Latin.
3. Mass of thanksgiving, Monday 2 May (officiated by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, St. Peter's Square, 10.30).
Mass on Monday 2 May shall be the first celebrated in honour of the newly Blessed John Paul II. The texts shall be those of the Mass of the Blessed John Paul II. Music during the celebrations shall be provided by the Choir of the Diocese of Rome, with the participation of the Choir of Warsaw and the Wadowice Symphony Orchestra, Poland.
Fr. Lombardi explained that in the evening of Friday 29 April the tomb of the Blessed Pope Innocent XI - currently in the Chapel of St. Sebastian in St. Peter's Basilica - shall be transferred to the Altar of Transfiguration, to make way for the body of John Paul II. That morning, the coffin of John Paul II - which shall not be opened - will be transferred before the tomb of St. Peter, in the Vatican grotto. On the morning of 1 May, it will be brought before the Altar of Confession in the Basilica.
Following the beatification ceremony, the Pope and the concelebrating cardinals will make their way to the Altar of Confession in the Basilica and will pray for a moment before the body of the newly Blessed. From that evening, those who wish to do so may venerate the remains of John Paul II.
Fr. Walter Insero shall present the new project, "Digital Sentinels", recalling the polish Pope's address to the young as "sentinels of the morning" on World Youth Day 2000 in Rome.
Through the already well-known portal "Pope2You", provided by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, it will be possible to send digital postcards with phrases, in several languages, extracted from John Paul II's various addresses to young people. These postcards may be used as invitations to young people to come to Rome to celebrate the beatification of John Paul II. Furthermore, through this portal it will be possible to follow the scheduled celebrations (Vigil, beatification Mass, Mass of thanksgiving).
This initiative, carried out in collaboration with Vatican Radio, the Vatican Television Center and the Office for Social Communications of the Vicariate of Rome, is managed by a group of young volunteers, several seminarians from colleges in Rome who provide translations in various languages, and friends from other continents.
OP/ VIS 20110405
| 4/6/2011 2:09 AM
Registered in: 11/23/2005
Mary, this will interest you.
Priest recalls John Paul II's death
Rome, Italy, Apr 5, 2011 / 06:02 pm (CNA).- A member of John Paul II's office of Liturgical Celebrations recently reflected on the late Pontiff's death.
Msgr. Konrad Krajewski
explained that Cardinal Stanislao Dziwisz, who was Pope Wojtyla’s personal secretary for 40 years, broke the silence at the time of the Pope’s death.
“We were kneeling around John Paul II’s bed. … The soft light of the lamp illuminated the wall, but you could see him well. Later the archbishop rose. He turned the lights on the room and interrupted the silence of John Paul II’s death,” Msgr. Krajewski said in an April 2 L’Osservatore Romano article.
John Paul II died on April 2, 2005.
“In a moving but surprisingly firm voice, with his typical mountain accent, dragging out certain syllables, he began to sing: ‘We praise you, God. We proclaim you, Lord.’ It seemed like a voice from heaven. We all looked with wonder at Don Stanislao. And the light followed the hymn and the verses continued: ‘Oh eternal Father, all the earth adores you…’ And gave assurance to each of us,” Msgr. Krajewski said.
“Thus we found ourselves before a totally distinct reality, we thought. John Paul II has died. That means now he lives forever,” he said.
Despite their sadness, Msgr. Krajewski continued, they continued to sing. “With each word our voices became stronger and more confident. The hymn proclaimed: ‘Victor over death, you have opened the Kingdom of Heaven to those who believe.’ Thus, singing the Te Deum, we glorified God, who was visible and recognizable in the person of the Pope.”
“This is also the experience of all who encountered him during his pontificate. Whoever came into contact with John Paul II encountered Jesus, whom the Pope showed with his entire being.”
“One immediately noticed that he was a person overflowing with God.”
During the last years of his life, Msgr. Krajewski said, “by just looking at him you could see the presence of God.”
“It was enough to make you go to confession, not only because of your sins, but for not being holy like him.”
On April 2, 2005, when he left the papal apartment at the apostolic palace, Msgr. Krajewski said he saw “a multitude of people walking silently in devotion. The world had closed down, got on its knees and cried.”
“There were those who cried only because a beloved person was gone, and later they went back to their homes like they came. And there also those who united the tears on the outside with those on the inside and realized that they were not right before the Lord. Those were blessed tears: they were the beginning of the miracle of conversion,” Msgr. Krajewski said.
He noted that even today, many of those who work at St. Peter’s and at the various Vatican offices spend a moment of prayer before John Paul II’s tomb. They touch the tombstone with a reverent kiss. “This happens every day,” he said.
“If I had to say what the most important thing is in the life of priest and in each of our lives, looking at him I would say: to not obscure God with ourselves, but rather, to show him and make ourselves a visible sign of his presence. Nobody has seen God, but John Paul II made him visible through his life,” Msgr. Krajewski said.
Dear Benefan, I've only just seen this. Thank you a million times!
Monsignor Konrad is so holy, deserves a higher profile
[Edited by maryjos 4/10/2011 2:34 PM]
| 4/9/2011 5:23 AM
Registered in: 6/26/2010
From Joan Lewis, EWTN blogger
APRIL 8, 2005: A DAY FOR MOURNING, A DAY FOR JOY
I am sure you all know that today marks exactly six years since the funeral of Pope John Paul II. I will never forget a minute of that day as long as I live. Nor will I forget John Paul’s agony in his last weeks and days. the April 1 and 2 prayerful vigils in St. Peter’s Square as everyone knew the end was near but also prayed for a miracle, the week when four million faithful came to pay tribute to the late Pope, whom they called John Paul the Great, or his funeral when dozens of banners proclaimed “Santo Subito” – “Make him a saint immediately.”
And, just as importantly, I will never forget the many beautiful and exciting and memorable encounters I had with him during his long pontificate. Days ago I went through an album I have and realized that I have an astonishing number of photos taken with Pope John Paul prior to and during his pontificate at many different events. Most amazing of all, I have a wonderful video of the two of us talking! On August 30, 1995 the Pope met with some of the members of the Holy See delegation that would leave the next day for Beijing to attend the U.N. Conference on Women. The Vatican photographer was there and Vatican television also captured the meeting. One of the few close-ups they did was of Pope John Paul and me as we spoke briefly.
Last night I re-read a file I have from that period simply called April 2005 that contains many of the documents I translated into English while working for the Vatican Information Service (the Pope’s last Will and Testament, for example) as well as emails I sent and received in those days and many personal feelings and memories in a document entitled “Diary.” One of those reports is below. It was extraordinarily moving for me to re-read these letters and documents. April 8, 2005 seemed like it had happened moments earlier, not six years earlier.
Here is one of the articles I translated for VIS after the funeral was over in 2005:
Statistics relative to the media presence, number of pilgrims in Rome and the welcome given them by the city of Rome and the Vatican for the period of April 3 to 8 were released by the Vatican yesterday afternoon.
More than 6,000 journalists, including those of print and electronic media, were given credentials by the Holy See Press Office and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, both of which were given additional office space to accommodate the huge numbers of media people present for the funeral of John Paul II. Though it is impossible to gauge the number of radio and TV stations that transmitted the funeral service, says the communique, more than 80 TV stations were linked through Mondovision and 137 television networks from 81 countries covered the funeral Mass and surrounding events.
The Vatican internet site reported that there were 1,300,000 visitors to its Streaming Live coverage of the funeral Mass, reaching points of 54,000 simultaneous connections, and occupying a 9 gigabyte per second band.
For the funeral Mass: 157 cardinal concelebrated; 700 archbishops and bishops were present, 3,000 priests, of whom 300 distributed communion. There were 169 foreign delegations, representatives from 23 Orthodox Churches, delegations from Judaism and 17 delegations of non-Christian religions and organizations for inter-religious dialogue.
Among the statistics released today were a number from the Italian Civil Protection and the city of Rome: over 3 million pilgrims in Rome, 21,000 people per hour entered St. Peter's Basilica; average wait was 13 hours and the longest was 24 hours; on the day of the funeral, 500,000 people filled St. Peter's Square and Via della Conciliazione; 600,000 were present in the areas where giant monitors were available; 400 handicapped were near the altar.
Personnel involved in assisting pilgrims: 8,000 volunteers; 2,000 Boy Scouts; 11,900 security people; 1,000 firemen; 6 helicopters, 400 soldiers; 2,700 city police; 7,000 people from the State Railway system; 4 disaster managers, more than 20,000 municipal employees and city volunteers assisted the above-mentioned personnel.
Other statistics: 1,000 special trains for 8,000 travellers; 6 special trains from Poland for 5,000 pilgrims; trains carried a total of 800,000 travellers; 29 giant TV screens throughout Rome; 3 million bottles of water distributed; 3,600 chemical toilets; 21 portable medical units and 100 ambulances added to medical facilities already available in Rome; 1,150 tents set up at Tor Vergata University for 8.000 people; 8 field kitchens, 400 water fountains; 5,000 beds set up at Rome's fairgrounds.
Rome's "Call Center," which usually receives 8,000 calls per day, received over 20,000 calls a day and its operators responded in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic.
Over 400,000 flyers - written in Italian and English - were distributed to pilgrims with useful information on transportation, the location of basilicas and giant screens, etc
The communique noted that on Sunday morning, April 3, the morning after John Paul's death, "the city awoke to 3,500 posters, 9 by 6 meters and two giant banners, 22 by 10 meters each, on both sides of the Tiber river, which read 'Thank you - Rome cries for and salutes her Pope'."
| 4/11/2011 6:24 AM
Registered in: 11/23/2005
NEW RESTING PLACE PREPARED FOR JOHN PAUL II
Tomb to Be Moved to St. Peter's Basilica After Beatification
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 10, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The remains of Blessed Innocent XI (1676-1689) were moved from the Chapel of St. Sebastian in St. Peter's Basilica to make room for the body of John Paul II.
On Thursday evening a ceremony was held in which Blessed Innocent's urn was removed from its place under the altar in the Chapel of St. Sebastian.
The urn was carried in a procession, accompanied by the singing of the litany of Papal saints, to the altar of the Transfiguration, under which it will now rest behind the same grate that it protected beneath the altar of St. Sebastian.
Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica, presided over the rite, which concluded with a prayer and benediction, and the reading and signing of the document concerning the act of transfer.
In the Chapel of St. Sebastian, where restoration work has been recently completed, the space beneath the altar is now open to receive the body of John Paul II after his May 1 beatification.
That chapel is located between the Chapel of the Pieta and the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. The altar is flanked by statues of Pius XI and Pius XII.
According to a statement by Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, the coffin containing the remains of John Paul II will be removed from its place beneath the Vatican Basilica on April 29 and placed before the main altar on May 1 so that the faithful may venerate it following the beatification.
The crypt of St. Peter's Basilica will be closed to the public April 29-May 1.
Father Lombardi said that John Paul II's body will not be removed from the coffin and the coffin will not be opened.
L'Osservatore Romano reported that the Pontiff's body will be "enclosed" and that the tomb will be marked "by a simple marble stone engraved with: Beatus Ioannes Paulus II."
| 4/12/2011 2:01 AM
Registered in: 11/23/2005
Feast Day Announced for John Paul II
The Vatican's announcement today included details about celebrating his feast day Mass worldwide.
BY CINDY WOODEN
Posted 4/11/11 at 2:08 PM
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The feast day of Blessed John Paul II will be marked Oct. 22 each year in Rome and the dioceses of Poland.
When the Vatican made the announcement April 11, it also said Catholics throughout the world will have a year to celebrate a Mass in thanksgiving for his beatification. While thanksgiving Masses for a beatification — like the observance of a feast day — usually are limited to places where the person lived or worked, “the exceptional character of the beatification of the Venerable John Paul II, recognized by the entire Catholic Church spread throughout the world,” led to a general permission for the thanksgiving Mass, said a decree from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
The decree was published in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, and included information about the thanksgiving Mass, Pope John Paul’s feast day, annual Masses in his honor and naming churches after him. The newspaper also published the text of the opening prayer — formally the “collect” — for his feast day Mass in Latin, English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Polish.
A local bishop or the superior general of a religious order is free to choose the day or dates as well as the place or places for the thanksgiving Mass, as long as the Masses are celebrated by May 1, 2012, which is one year after the beatification, the decree said.
In the Diocese of Rome, where Pope John Paul served as bishop, and in all the dioceses of his native Poland, his feast day is to be inserted automatically into the annual calendar, the decree said. Oct. 22 was chosen as the day to remember him because it is the anniversary of the liturgical inauguration of his papacy in 1978.
Outside Rome and Poland, bishops will have to file a formal request with the Vatican to receive permission to mark the feast day, the decree said. The local-only celebration of a blessed’s feast is one of the most noticeable differences between being beatified and being canonized, which makes universal public liturgical veneration possible.
The only places where parishes and churches can be named after Blessed John Paul without special Vatican permission are in the Diocese of Rome and the dioceses of Poland or other places that have obtained specific Vatican permission to insert Pope John Paul’s Oct. 22 feast in their liturgical calendar, the decree said.
The text of the opening prayer for the Mass in honor of Blessed John Paul is: “O God, who are rich in mercy and who willed that the Blessed John Paul II should preside as Pope over your universal Church, grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching, we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ, the sole redeemer of mankind. Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.”
| 4/19/2011 6:29 AM
Registered in: 11/23/2005
THE SUFFERING AND DEATH OF A SHEPHERD
Biblical Reflection for Good Friday
By Father Thomas Rosica, CSB
TORONTO, APRIL 18, 2011 (Zenit.org).- For our Good Friday Reflection this year, and in preparation for the beatification of the Servant of God Pope John Paul II on Sunday May 1, I have chosen to share with you the this reflection on what Pope John Paul II taught us at the end of his life.
I cannot celebrate Good Friday without remembering Pope John Paul II, especially his final Good Friday on earth in 2005. This reflection is part of a major address I gave at the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven, Connecticut, for the opening of the special exhibit, "Blessed," that commemorates the life of this great man.
One of the beautiful and not frequently cited writings of John Paul II was his 1984 apostolic letter "Salvifici Doloris," (On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering). The late Pope, following the Apostle Paul and the entire Catholic Tradition, maintained throughout his life that it is precisely in suffering that Christ displayed his solidarity with humanity, and in which we can grow in solidarity with Christ, who is our life.
In "Salvifici Doloris," suffering is the consequence of sin, and Christ embraces that consequence, rather than repudiating it. By embracing suffering, he shares fully in it, he takes the consequence of sin into and onto himself. He does this out of love for us, not simply because he wants to redeem us, but because he wants to be with us, to share what we share, to experience what we experience. And it is this shared love, this shared suffering in love, which completes and perfects the relationship broken in sin, and so redeems us.
Pope John Paul II taught us that the meaning of suffering is fundamentally changed by the Incarnation. Apart from the Incarnation, suffering is the consequence of sin. It offers opportunities for insight into oneself, for personal growth, and for demonstrating practical love for others, but these are incidental. Because of the Incarnation, however, we become sharers in the Body of Christ. Our suffering becomes his suffering, and becomes an expression of redeeming love.
Because he was the leader of a billion Roman Catholics; because he was the first pontiff of the satellite and Internet age, reaching out to billions more, and because he was John Paul II, who has ruled the church for more than 26 years -- in that public experience of suffering was found enormous power. And that he certainly knew. In 1981, after recovering from the gunshot wound that almost took his life in St. Peter's Square, John Paul declared that suffering, as such, is one of the most powerful messages in Christianity.
During the final years of his pontificate, John Paul II brought suffering back into the realm of the expected in human life. Everyone could see that his spirituality gave him an inner strength -- a spirituality with which one can also overcome fear, even the fear of death.
What an incredible lesson for the world! His struggle with the physical effects of aging was also a valuable lesson to a society that finds it hard to accept growing older, and a culture that sees no redemption in suffering.
In 1994, as age and infirmity began to incapacitate John Paul publicly, he told his followers he had heard God and was about to change the way he led the church. "I must lead her with suffering," he said. "The Pope must suffer so that every family and the world should see that there is, I would say, a higher gospel: the gospel of suffering, with which one must prepare the future."
A Consoling letter to his peers
In 1999, in preparation for the Great Jubilee, Pope John Paul II published his "Letter to the Elderly." Following his Letters to the young in 1985, to families in 1994, to children in 1994, to women in 1995 and to artists in 1999 year -- and not counting those letters that he wrote each year to priests on Holy Thursday, since the beginning of his pontificate, he wrote deeply moving and encouraging words to his peers in the "Letter to the Elderly."
He had no fear in placing before the eyes of the world the limits and frailties that the years placed upon him. He did nothing to disguise them. In speaking to young people, he has no difficulty in saying of himself: "I am an old priest." John Paul II continued to fulfill his mission as the Successor of Peter, looking far ahead with the enthusiasm of the only youth that does not deteriorate, that of the spirit, which this Pope maintains intact. The letter had a very personal, almost confidential, tone and was not an analysis of old age. Rather, it was a very intimate dialogue between people of the same generation.
"The passage of time," wrote the Pope in that memorable letter, "helps us to see our experiences in a clearer light and softens their painful side." Moreover, he says, the daily difficulties can be eased with God's help. In addition, "we are consoled by the thought that, by virtue of our spiritual souls, we will survive beyond death."
"Guardians of shared memory" was the title of the one part of the Pope's Letter. Pointing out that "in the past, great respect was shown to the elderly," the Pope remarks that this is still true in many cultures today, "while among others, this is much less the case, due to a mentality which gives priority to immediate human usefulness and productivity." He wrote: "It has come to the point where euthanasia is increasingly put forward as a solution for difficult situations. Unfortunately, in recent years the idea of euthanasia has lost for many people the sense of horror which it naturally awakens in those who have a sense of respect for life."
The Pope added: "Here it should be kept in mind that the moral law allows the rejection of 'aggressive medical treatment' and makes obligatory only those forms of treatment which fall within the normal requirements of medical care, which in the case of terminal illness seeks primarily to alleviate pain. But euthanasia, understood as directly causing death, is another thing entirely. Regardless of intentions and circumstances, euthanasia is always an intrinsically evil act, a violation of God's law and an offense against the dignity of the human person."
Pope John Paul II continued in that letter: "Man has been made for life, whereas death ... was not a part of God's original plan, but came about as a consequence of sin. [...] However rationally comprehensible death may be from a biological standpoint, it is not possible to experience it as something 'natural.'"
We ask ourselves, he says here, "What is on the other side of the shadowy wall of death?" The answer comes from faith "which illuminates the mystery of death and brings serenity to old age, now no longer lived passively as the expectation of a calamity, but rather as a promise-filled approach to the goal of full maturity."
Pope John Paul's "Letter to the Elderly" closed with a section entitled "An encouragement to live life to the full." He writes: "I feel a spontaneous desire to share fully with you my own feelings at this point of my life, after more than 20 years of ministry on the throne of Peter. [...] Despite the limitations brought on by age I continue to enjoy life. For this I thank the Lord. It is wonderful to be able to give oneself to the very end for the sake of the Kingdom of God!"
"At the same time," he concludes, "I find great peace in thinking about the time when the Lord will call me: from life to life! [...] 'Bid me to come to you': this is the deepest yearning of the human heart, even in those who are not conscious of it."
What a magnificent signature piece of Pope John Paul II! He not only wrote the letter, but enacted it in his own life. We were eyewitnesses.
Pope John Paul II taught us that life is sacred, no matter how painful his own life became for him. Rather than hide his infirmities, as most public figures do, Pope John Paul II let the whole world see what he went through. The suffering and dying of this Pope did not take place in private, but before television cameras and the whole world.
In the final act of his life, the athlete was immobilized, the distinctive, booming voice silenced, and the hand that produced voluminous encyclicals no longer able to write. John Paul II's final homily was an icon of his Galilean Master's final words to Simon Peter: "Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go." After this, he [Jesus] said to him, "Follow me" (John 21:18-19).
Many Catholics and non-Christians saw the Pope's suffering as something like the agony of Jesus himself, and neither John Paul nor those around him discourage such comparisons. When asked a few years before his death if he might consider resigning, John Paul reportedly asked, in reply, "Did Christ come down from the cross?" His close aides say that debate about his ability to administer the church, as if he were the CEO of a secular corporation, essentially missed the point. This pope is not doing a job, he is carrying out a divine mission, and his pain is at its core.
That final Good Friday evening
One of my most vivid memories from the last week of our late Holy Father Pope John Paul II's life was during the Way of the Cross on Good Friday evening in 2005, in which he participated by watching the service at the Coliseum in his chapel on television. The television camera in his chapel was behind him so that he would not be distracted from taking part in this ceremony in which he always took part personally. Then-Archbishop John Foley was doing the television commentary in English from Rome, reading the very provocative meditations prepared by a certain Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.
At one point toward the end of the Way of the Cross, someone put a rather large crucifix on the knee of the Holy Father, and he was gazing lovingly at the figure of Jesus. At the words, "Jesus Dies on the Cross," Pope John Paul drew the crucifix to himself and embraced it. I will never forget that scene. What an incredibly powerful homily without words! Like Jesus, Pope John Paul II embraced the cross; in fact, he embraced the crucifix of Jesus Christ on Good Friday night.
The death of a patriarch
Several hours before his death, Pope John Paul's last audible words were: "Let me go to the house of the Father." In the intimate setting of prayer, as Mass was celebrated at the foot of his bed and the throngs of faithful sang below in St. Peter's Square, he died at 9:37 p.m. on April 2. Through his public passion, suffering and death, this holy priest, Successor of the Apostles, and Servant of God, showed us the suffering face of Jesus in a remarkable way.
Pope of holiness
Karol Wojtyla himself was an extraordinary witness who, through his devotion, heroic efforts, long suffering and death, communicated the powerful message of the Gospel to the men and women of our day. A great part of the success of his message is due to the fact that he has been surrounded by a tremendous cloud of witnesses who stood by him and strengthened him throughout his life. For John Paul II, the call to holiness excludes no one; it is not the privilege of a spiritual elite.
"Lumen Gentium," the dogmatic constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council, notes that the holiness of Christians flows from that of the Church and manifests it. It says that holiness "is expressed in many ways by the individuals who, each in his own state of life, tend to the perfection of love, thus sanctifying others" ("Lumen Gentium," No. 39). In this variety "one and the same holiness is cultivated by all, who are moved by the Spirit of God...and follow the poor Christ, the humble and cross bearing Christ in order to be worthy of being sharers in his glory" ("Lumen Gentium," No. 41).
When the throngs of people began chanting "Santo Subito" at the end of the Pope's funeral mass on April 8, 2005, what were they really chanting? They were crying out that in Karol Wojtyla, they saw someone who lived with God and lived with us. He was a sinner who experienced God's mercy and forgiveness. He was the prophetic teacher who preached the word in season and out of season. He looked at us, loved us, touched us, healed us and gave us hope. He taught us not to be afraid. He showed us how to live, how to love, how to forgive and how to die. He taught us how to embrace the cross in the most excruciating moments of life, knowing that the cross was not God's final answer.
That a person is declared blessed is not a statement about perfection. It does not mean that the person was without imperfection, blindness, deafness or sin. Nor is it a 360-degree evaluation of the Pontificate or of the Vatican. Beatification and canonization mean that a person lived his or her life with God, relying totally on God's infinite mercy, going forward with God's strength and power, believing in the impossible, loving one's enemies and persecutors, forgiving in the midst of evil and violence, hoping beyond all hope, and leaving the world a better place.
That person lets those around him know that there is a force or spirit animating his or her life that is not of this world, but the next. Such a person lets us catch a glimpse of the greatness and holiness to which we are all called, and shows us the face of God as we journey on our pilgrim way on earth.
In the life of Karol Wojtyla, the boy from Wadowice who would grow up to be a priest and Bishop of Krakow, the Bishop of Rome, and a hero for the ages, holiness was contagious. We have all been touched and changed by it. Pope John Paul II was not only "Holy Father," but "a father who was and is holy."
At his funeral Mass on April 8, 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger told the world that the Holy Father was watching us and blessing us "from the window of the Father's House."
As we prepare for the beatification of this great shepherd and holy priest and bishop on Sunday May 1, 2011, may we learn from "Papa Wojtyla" how to cross thresholds, open doors, build bridges, embrace the Cross of suffering and proclaim the Gospel of Life to the people of our time.
May we learn how to live, to suffer and die unto the Lord. Let us pray to have a small portion of the fidelity of Peter's witness and the boldness of Paul's proclamation that were so mightily present in Karol Wojtyla -- Blessed John Paul II. May he intercede for us and for all those who suffer in body and spirit, and give us the desire to help carry one another's crosses, to grow in holiness and to become saints.
| 4/19/2011 6:32 AM
Registered in: 11/23/2005
For Pope John Paul II, spiritual journey marked path to beatification
By John Thavis
Catholic News Service
April 18, 2011
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As church officials keep emphasizing, Pope John Paul II is being beatified not for his performance as pope, but for how he lived the Christian virtues of faith, hope and love.
When the Vatican's sainthood experts interviewed witnesses about the Polish pontiff, the focus of their investigation was on holiness, not achievement.
What emerged was a spiritual portrait of Pope John Paul, one that reflected lifelong practices of prayer and devotion, a strong sense of his priestly vocation and a reliance on faith to guide his most important decisions.
More than leadership or managerial skills, these spiritual qualities were the key to his accomplishments -- both before and after his election as pope in 1978.
From an early age, Karol Wojtyla faced hardships that tested his trust in God. His mother died when he was 9, and three years later he lost his only brother to scarlet fever. His father died when he was 20, and friends said Wojtyla knelt for 12 hours in prayer and sorrow at his bedside.
His calling to the priesthood was not something that happened overnight. It took shape during the dramatic years of World War II, after a wide variety of other experiences: Among other things, he had acted with a theater group, split stone at a quarry, written poetry and supported a network that smuggled Jews to safety.
Wojtyla's friends of that era always remembered his contemplative side and his habit of intense prayer. A daily Mass-goer, he cultivated a special devotion to Mary. In 1938, he began working toward a philosophy degree at the University of Krakow. A year later, the Nazi blitzkrieg of Poland left the country in ruins.
During the German occupation, Wojtyla began attending weekly meetings called the "living rosary" led by Jan Tyranowski, a Catholic layman who soon became his spiritual mentor. Tyranowski introduced him to the 16th-century Spanish Carmelite mystic, St. John of the Cross, who would greatly influence the future pope.
Wojtyla called Tyranowski an "apostle" and later wrote of him: "He showed us God much more immediately than any sermons or books; he proved to us that God could not only be studied, but also lived."
At a spiritual crossroads in 1942, Wojtyla entered Krakow's clandestine theological seminary. In the pope's 1996 book, "Gift and Mystery," he remembered his joy at being called to the priesthood, but his sadness at being cut off from acquaintances and other interests. He said he always felt a debt to friends who suffered "on the great altar of history" during World War II, while he pursued his underground seminary studies.
As a seminarian, he continued to be attracted to monastic contemplation. Twice during these years he petitioned to join the Discalced Carmelites but was said to have been turned away with the advice: "You are destined for greater things."
He was ordained four years later, as Poland's new communist regime was enacting restrictions on the Catholic Church. After two years of study in Rome, he returned to Poland in 1948 and worked as a young pastor. From the beginning, he focused much of his attention on young people, especially university students -- the beginning of a lifelong pastoral interest. Students would join him on hiking and camping trips, which always included prayer, outdoor Masses and discussions about the faith.
Father Wojtyla earned a doctorate in moral theology and began teaching at Lublin University, at the same time publishing articles and books on ethics and other subjects. In 1958, at age 38, he was named an auxiliary bishop of Poland, becoming the youngest bishop in Poland's history. He became archbishop of Krakow in 1964, and played a key role in the Second Vatican Council, helping to draft texts on religious liberty and the church in the modern world.
After Pope John Paul I was elected in the first conclave of 1978, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla said in a sermon in Poland that the papacy, "although it is a great office, is also a very great cross."
He said of the new pope: "He took up the cross of contemporary man ... of all the tensions and dangers which arise from various injustices: the violation of human rights, the enslavement of nations, new forms of colonial exploitation ... wrongs which can be righted only in the spirit of Christ's cross."
A few weeks later, Pope John Paul I was dead, and the "cross" of the papacy fell to Cardinal Karol Wojtyla.
Early in his pontificate, on May 13, 1981 -- the feast of Our Lady of Fatima -- the Polish pope experienced a brush with death that intensified his already strong devotion to Mary. Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turk who had previously threatened the pope, shot and seriously wounded the pontiff in St. Peter's Square. The pope's life hung in the balance, and his recovery was slow. He credited Mary with saving him, and he later traveled to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, where he placed a bullet fragment removed from his body in the crown of a statue of Mary.
Years later, the pope published the "third secret" of Fatima, which described a period of suffering for the church and the shooting of a bishop in white -- a figure the pope believed was linked to the attempt on his life.
Pope John Paul's private prayer life was intense, and visitors who attended his morning Mass described him as immersed in an almost mystical form of meditation. He prayed the liturgy of the hours, he withdrew for hours of silent contemplation and eucharistic adoration, and he said the rosary often -- eventually adding five new luminous mysteries to this traditional form of prayer.
The pope also took penitential practices seriously. In a book published after his death, the postulator or his sainthood cause, Msgr. Slawomir Oder, said Pope John Paul spent entire nights lying with his arms outstretched on the bare floor, fasted before ordaining priests or bishops and flagellated himself with a belt.
Throughout his life, Pope John Paul was a devotee of the Divine Mercy movement, which was founded in the early 1900s by a Polish nun from Krakow, Sister Faustina Kowalska. Her special devotion to the divine mercy of God was a theme the pope himself took up in his 1980 encyclical "Dives in Misericordia" ("Rich in Mercy").
The pope beatified Sister Faustina in 1993 and canonized her in 2000, proclaiming the second Sunday of Easter as Mercy Sunday throughout the world. Pope John Paul's death in 2005 came on the eve of Mercy Sunday, and his beatification May 1 will be celebrated on Mercy Sunday.
Pope John Paul canonized 482 people, more than all his predecessors combined. Although the Vatican was sometimes humorously referred to as a "saint factory" under Pope John Paul, the pope was making a very serious effort to underline what he called the "universal call to holiness" -- the idea that all Christians, in all walks of life, are called to sanctity.
"There can never be enough saints," he once remarked.
He was convinced that God sometimes speaks to the world through simple and uneducated people. St. Faustina was one, and he also canonized St. Padre Pio, the Italian mystic, and St. Juan Diego, the Mexican peasant who had visions of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The world knows Pope John Paul largely because of his travels to 129 countries. For him, they were spiritual journeys. As he told his top advisers in 1980: "These are trips of faith and of prayer, and they always have at their heart the meditation and proclamation of the word of God, the celebration of the Eucharist and the invocation of Mary."
Pope John Paul never forgot that he was, above all, a priest. In his later years, he said repeatedly that what kept him going was not the power of the papacy but the spiritual strength that flowed from his priestly vocation.
He told some 300,000 young people in 1997: "With the passing of time, the most important and beautiful thing for me is that I have been a priest for more than 50 years, because every day I can celebrate Holy Mass!"
In his final years, the suffering brought on by Parkinson's disease, arthritis and other afflictions became part of the pope's spiritual pilgrimage, demonstrating in an unusually public way his willingness to embrace the cross.
With his beatification, the church is proposing not a model pope but a model Christian, one who witnessed inner holiness in the real world, and who, through words and example, challenged people to believe, to hope and to love.
| 4/21/2011 11:34 PM
Registered in: 11/23/2005
VATICAN TO LIVE-STREAM BEATIFICATION
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 21, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican will work through its official Twitter and Facebook pages to live-stream the vigil and beatification of John Paul II.
The Pontifical Council for Social Communications, in collaboration with the Vicariate of Rome and Vatican Radio, is promoting the beatification as an occasion to form an online community called "Digital Sentinels."
The group will "bring the figure and words of the new Blessed to the digital world," a statement explained.
"This is another great step for the Church in the digital world, an event of prayer and evangelization that cannot be missed by Catholics around the globe," the note added.
| 4/26/2011 6:57 AM
Registered in: 11/23/2005
George Weigel slams critics of John Paul II's fast track to sainthood
By Marianne Medlin
Rome, Italy, Apr 25, 2011 / 07:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Scholar and papal biographer George Weigel batted aside criticism of John Paul II's speedy canonization process, saying accusations that the pontiff is responsible for scandals that took place under his watch are ultimately unfounded.
“The investigation into John Paul II's life has been very thorough, and the results fill four thick volumes,” Weigel told CNA in an April 25 interview.
Author of the 1999 biography of John Paul II, “Witness to Hope,” Weigel first countered the claim that the late pontiff's canonization process has moved too quickly.
“John Paul himself waived the five-year waiting period usually prescribed between someone's death and the official opening of a beatification process in the case of Mother Teresa – another instance where there was great popular conviction about the deceased's sanctity,” he said.
Weigel also took on the argument that the sex abuse scandals which came to light during Pope John Paul's pontificate –as well as the problems that began to surface with Fr. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ – are disqualifying factors.
“As a matter of fact, in the U.S. and elsewhere, the majority of abuses cases did not happen on John Paul II's watch, although the revelations of them did,” he explained.
“John Paul II was a great reformer of the priesthood, and the Church's ordained ministry is in far better shape today, because of him, than it was in 1978.”
“Unless one understands that, one is not in a very secure position from which to assess how John Paul handled the abuse crisis when it burst into public view in 2002,” he added.
Weigel acknowledged that certain Vatican offices, especially the Congregation for the Clergy, “were slower than they ought to have been in recognizing the nature of the problem in the United States and in devising appropriate remedies for it.”
However, as for Pope John Paul himself, “once it became clear, in April 2002, that this could not be handled by the American bishops themselves and that a papal intervention was required, he intervened and made unmistakably clear that 'there is no place in the priesthood for those who would harm the young.'”
As for the Pope's relationship with Fr. Maciel, Weigel said that John Paul II was “deceived” by the ex-priest, along with “many, many people.”
The papal biographer said that the only relevant questions with respect to the beatification are “whether John Paul II’s failure to see through Maciel’s deceptions was willful or venal or malicious.”
Weigel explained that the first situation would mean “he knew about Maciel’s perfidies and did nothing about the situation,” and the second would mean “he knew that Maciel was a sociopathic fraud and didn’t care.”
“There isn’t a shred of evidence that would sustain a positive answer to any of those questions,” he stressed. “To even think that such could be the case is to utterly miss the character of the late Pope.”
Weigel added that it's “grotesquely disproportionate, from any serious historical point of view” to “focus so much attention on Maciel at the time of John Paul II's beatification, as if his case offered a privileged window into a twenty-six and a half year pontificate that changed the history of the Church and the world.”
Weigel also addressed the criticism that Pope John Paul failed in his duties, given the decline of Christianity in Europe in recent decades as well as the scandals under his pontificate.
“He didn't fail, and those who suggest that he did are living in a very strange place,” he said.
“John Paul II’s radical Christian discipleship and his remarkable capacity to let that commitment shine through his words and his actions, made Christianity interesting and compelling again in a world that thought it had outgrown its 'need' for religious faith.”
The late Pope “was a man of extraordinary courage,” the papal biographer said. “Against the cultural conventions of his time, John Paul demonstrated that young people want to be challenged to live lives of heroism.”
“He lifted up the dignity of the human person,” and he “proclaimed the universality of human rights in a way that helped bring down the greatest tyranny in human history.”
“If this is papal 'failure,' I don't know what papal success would look like,” Weigel said.
| 4/27/2011 7:18 AM
Registered in: 11/23/2005
Rome, world prepare for beatification of Pope John Paul II
By John Thavis
Catholic News Service
April 27, 3011
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As the countdown continued for the beatification of Pope John Paul II, church and civil authorities put the finishing touches on logistical plans to handle potentially massive crowds at the main events in Rome.
Meanwhile, Vatican officials were heartened at the massive response to online projects designed to make the beatification a universal experience.
Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate the beatification Mass in St. Peter's Square May 1. Because no tickets are being handed out for the liturgy, no one really knows how many people to expect. Estimates range from 300,000 to 1.5 million, and crowd control barriers will be set up for blocks around the Vatican.
Immediately after Mass, the faithful can pray before Pope John Paul's unopened casket, which will be set in front of the main altar in St. Peter's Basilica. The veneration is expected to continue most of the day.
A large crowd is also expected for the prayer vigil April 30 at the site of Rome's ancient Circus Maximus racetrack, where Pope Benedict will make a video appearance. Rome church officials have organized that event to underline the strong connection between the Polish pope and the Diocese of Rome.
The French nun whose healing was accepted as the miracle needed for Pope John Paul's beatification will share her story with pilgrims at the prayer vigil. Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, a member of the Little Sisters of the Catholic Motherhood, had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and believes she was cured in 2005 through the intercession of the late pope.
The morning after the beatification, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, will celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving in St. Peter's Square. That liturgy, too, is expected to attract tens of thousands of people.
While the size of the crowds remained a mystery, Vatican officials said their online initiatives had already taken the beatification to groups and individuals around the world. For example, the Vatican's special beatification Facebook page at www.facebook.com/vatican.johnpaul2
has had more than 6 million visits and has gained nearly 50,000 followers.
Similar pages have been opened at the www.pope2you.net
site aimed at younger audiences and on the Vatican's YouTube channel. They offer photos, tributes, key quotes and video highlights of Pope John Paul's pontificate. The beatification events will be live-streamed at many of the sites, ensuring worldwide participation.
"Six years have passed since John Paul's funeral, and the world of communications has changed greatly, with many more online opportunities available to the church," said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, who was coordinating several of the Internet efforts.
"Moreover, John Paul II was much loved by the younger generations who use the new media. He is a figure who adapts well to the Web, because he left us with a wealth of images and spoken words that one is happy to see and listen to again in their original context," he said.
The Diocese of Rome has also launched a multilingual beatification website that offers the diocesan-approved prayer asking for graces of Pope John Paul in 31 languages, including Chinese, Arabic, Russian and Swahili.
The beatification date was chosen carefully. May 1 is Divine Mercy Sunday, a day with special significance for Pope John Paul, who made it a church-wide feast day to be celebrated a week after Easter. The pope died April 2, 2005, the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday.
May 1 is also Europe's "labor day" holiday, which meant the beatification events would not disrupt the normal business of Rome. Many Romans were planning to leave the city for the weekend, although church leaders said Italians would still be the biggest national group attending the beatification. Poles were expected to be the second-largest group, followed by pilgrims from Spain and the United States.
The Vatican has used the run-up to the beatification as a teaching moment about the sainthood process, emphasizing that Pope John Paul will be declared "blessed" not for his achievements as pope but for the way he lived the Christian virtues of faith, hope and love.
Church officials have announced that in the Diocese of Rome, where Pope John Paul served as bishop, and in all the dioceses of his native Poland, his feast day is to be inserted automatically into the annual calendar. Oct. 22 was chosen as the day to remember him because it is the anniversary of the liturgical inauguration of his papacy in 1978.
Other places can petition the Vatican to insert the Oct. 22 feast day into their liturgical calendar. Likewise, parishes and churches can be named after "Blessed Pope John Paul" in Rome and Poland, with other requests considered on a case-by-case basis.
Throughout the universal church, Catholics will have a year to celebrate a Mass in thanksgiving for the pope's beatification.
The Vatican has published the text of the opening prayer -- formally the "collect" -- for his feast day Mass. The English text reads: "O God, who are rich in mercy and who willed that the Blessed John Paul II should preside as pope over your universal church, grant, we pray, that, instructed by his teaching, we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ, the sole redeemer of mankind. Who lives and reigns."
Following the beatification ceremonies, Pope John Paul's casket will be relocated to the Chapel of St. Sebastian in the upper level of St. Peter's Basilica. He had been buried in the grotto beneath St. Peter's, but the new resting place is more easily accessible to the steady stream of pilgrims who come to see the pope's tomb.
Not long after Pope John Paul's death, Pope Benedict set him on the fast track to beatification by waiving the normal five-year waiting period for the introduction of his sainthood cause. Even so, church experts needed years to review the massive amount of evidence regarding the late pope, including thousands of pages of writings and speeches.
More than 120 witnesses were interviewed, and studies were conducted on Pope John Paul's ministry, the way he handled suffering and how he faced his death. The Vatican took special care evaluating the reported miracle in France, and Vatican officials emphasized that no procedural shortcuts were taken. The process was completed relatively quickly: six years and one month from death to beatification is a modern record in the church.