Friday, July 05, 2013

Santi Subito – John XXIII and JPII Cleared for Canonization

It might be a slow Friday elsewhere... at the Vatican, however, the fireworks are on. 

Alongside today's release of the first encyclical he called a "work of four hands," Pope Francis has added a second major tribute to his predecessors, bringing both Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II across the final hurdle to sainthood.

Ratifying the actions decided on Tuesday by the cardinal-members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in an audience this morning with the dicastery's head, Cardinal Angelo Amato SDB, Francis approved a second miracle attributed to the intercession of the Polish Pope – the cure of a Costa Rican woman, whose recovery from a near-fatal brain aneurysm has been described as extraordinary even for the realm of supernatural healings. The cure reportedly took place on 1 May 2011, the day of John Paul's beatification.

For Papa Roncalli, meanwhile, the current pontiff green-lighted the congregation's unusual move to recommend the canonization of the "Good Pope" without a second miracle, ostensibly owing to John's already universal cult, as well as the 50th anniversary of Vatican II, the 11 October opening-date of which is now marked as his feast. (Recently added to the US calendar, John Paul's memorial is 22 October, the anniversary of his 1978 inauguration as the 264th bishop of Rome.)

While the Vatican announcement said that Francis "has decided to convoke a consistory" to determine a date for what's looking to be a joint canonization, the prevailing thought is that the unprecedented elevation of two Popes at once will take place before year's end. In its early piece on the move, the Associated Press notably floated the possible timing of 8 December, the Immaculate Conception, which falls on a Sunday in 2013, thus matching up with the standard practice of holding canonizations on the Lord's Day. Another potential date-choice could be 24 November, the feast of Christ the King, which is already slated to see a major Vatican celebration this year to mark the close of the Year of Faith commemorating the Council's half-century.

Coming just over eight years after his death, John Paul's ascent to sainthood is the quickest in modern times, trumping the prior record of the 27 year spans from the respective deaths to canonizations of Saints Therese of Lisieux and Jose Maria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei.

The cause of Escriva's immediate successor as head of the Work, Bishop Alvaro del Portillo (1914-1994), was likewise advanced in this morning's decrees, as a miracle for his beatification was approved.

On one last note, meanwhile, though the practice of canonization by acclamation was frequent in centuries past, since the clinical determination of miraculous healings has become a required element in the process – except for the beatification of martyrs – until today's decision on John XXIII, no figure can be recalled who was elevated to sainthood without effecting a cure.