John Paul II's canonisation wasn't too fast

John Paul II

In April 8, 2005, something happened in Rome that hadn’t happened for more than 1,400 years: The congregation at a papal funeral Mass spontaneously proclaimed the deceased Pontiff a saint, writes George Weigel.

- Ethics and Public Policy Centre

The honoree was a son of Poland, Karol Wojtyla, who, at the conclusion of the official canonization process on April 27, 2014, will be known as Pope St John Paul II. The formalities notwithstanding, there was something instinctively and authentically Catholic about those cries of 'Santo subito! [A saint immediately!]' and 'Magnus' (or the Italian 'Magno') that reverberated around St Peter’s Square on April 8, 2005, at a volume that could be heard hundreds of yards away.

The people of the Catholic Church had made their judgment: John Paul II was a great man, a Christian who had displayed heroic virtue. And while some are wondering if eight years is too short a time for canonisation, the speed shouldn’t be cause for either alarm or surprise.

The only concession made to the popular demand for an accelerated process for Pope John Paul II was Pope Benedict XVI’s agreement that the five-year waiting period for the introduction of a 'cause' would be waived. More than 120 witnesses gave formal testimony (full disclosure: I was one of them); an entire volume of the documentary record was given over to answering challenges to John Paul’s reputation for heroic virtue that arose after the cause was introduced.

There were no shortcuts taken, and the medical cures that satisfied the requirement of one miracle for beatification (the cure of a French nun from Parkinson’s disease) and another for canonisation (the cure of a Costa Rican woman from a cerebral aneurism) were certified as medically 'inexplicable' by a panel of scientists.

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