Pope Benedict set to beatify John Paul II

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Former Pope John Paul II will move a step closer to sainthood this week when his successor Pope Benedict approves the case for his beatification, Vatican sources said Wednesday.

Pope John Paul II observes a white dove released by children from the window of his private apartment at the end of the Sunday Angelus prayer at the Vatican in this January 30, 2005 file photo. REUTERS/Max Rossi/Files

In “a few days” the Vatican’s Prefect for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, is expected present Benedict with the evidence that John Paul performed a miracle and should be beatified, one source said.

At that point Benedict is expected to approve the recommendation and set a date for the ceremony less than six years after the death of the Polish pontiff.

One miracle is needed for beatification, while two are required for sainthood.

Tuesday a Vatican commission of cardinals and bishops, members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, approved medical and theological evidence that John Paul had miraculously cured a nun with Parkinson’s disease, paving the way for the beatification request to be presented.

The initial phases of a canonization cause can usually take decades or, in some cases, hundreds of years. However in May 2005, a month after his death, Benedict put John Paul on the fast track by dispensing with Church rules that normally impose a five-year waiting period after a candidate’s death before the procedure begins.

Crowds at John Paul’s funeral on April 8, 2005 chanted “santo subito” (“make him a saint now”).

His 27-year papacy, which began in 1978, was one of the most historic and tumultuous of modern times.

During his pontificate communism collapsed across eastern Europe, including in his native Poland. John Paul, the first non-Italian pope in 450 years, was seriously wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt.

Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, a 47-year-old French nun diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, from which Pope John Paul himself suffered, said it inexplicably disappeared two months after his death after she and her fellow nuns prayed to him.