John Paul II on the Road to Sainthood
Catholics around the world celebrated on May 1, 2011 as Pope Benedict XVI beatified the late pope, John Paul II at the Vatican. About one million people, including thousands from John Paul II’s home country Poland gathered around St. Peter’s Square. 16 heads of state also came to the ceremony.
The beatification came six years after John Paul II had died in 2005. Declaring a person blessed is the first step in the process of making him a saint. Normally popes do not get beatified that quickly, but Benedict XVI made it clear that John Paul II was someone special.
In order for a person to be beatified or declared blessed, the Roman Catholic Church must acknowledge a miracle they have performed. In the case of John Paul II, the church examined hundreds of possible cases and found out that the late Pope had indeed performed an act of which there was no explanation. A French nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease and could not walk or talk properly. Two months after John Paul II died she woke up one day and found out that she could walk, move her hands without shaking and do normal things again. Doctors were not able to explain the sudden cure.
In order to be declared a saint, the Church must prove another miracle. Vatican experts say that this could happen within the next five years.
John Paul II was the first non-Italian to become Pope for over 400 years. His pontificate lasted for almost 27 years, the second longest in history. John Paul II is known as one of the greatest leaders of the 20 the century. He played an important part in bringing down Communism in his native country Poland and improved relations between the Roman Catholic Church and other religions.
John Paul II was immensely popular among ordinary Catholics. He inspired young people and travelled more than any other pope had before him. He visited 129 countries and spoke almost a dozen languages. In 1981 the Pope was almost killed when a Turkish extremist shot at him.
On the other hand, critics of the late pope argue that he has not done enough to ban sexual abuse by priests and other Catholic officials.
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- acknowledge = to admit or say that something is true
- act = action
- argue = say
- ban = forbid
- beatify, beatification = when a Pope officially declares someone holy or special
- blessed = holy, sacred
- celebrate = have a good time and be happy
- century = a hundred years
- ceremony = an important and special event
- cure = to make someone healthy again
- declare = to say officially
- dozen = twelve
- examine = look into; observe very closely
- explanation = reason
- extremist = someone who has extreme opinions and is willing to do everything for them
- gather = come together
- head of state = prime minister or president; the leader of a country
- immensely = very
- improve = to make better
- including = as well as
- indeed = in fact
- miracle = an impossible event that is caused by God; there is no explanation for it
- native = home
- nun = someone who is in a religious group of women who live together
- official = person in a high position in an organization
- Parkinson’s disease = serious illness in which your muscles become very weak and your arms and legs are shaky
- perform = do, carry out
- pontificate = the time period of being a pope
- popular = liked by many people
- process = act
- properly = in the right way
- prove = show, confirm
- saint = a title that is given to a person by the Catholic church because they were very good or holy
- sexual abuse = to touch or have sex with someone who doesn’t want it
- shake = to move suddenly from side to side or up and down
- sudden = fast, not expected
- suffer = to feel pain